How Do I Evaluate Multiple Interior House Painting Quotes?

How do I evaluate multiple interior house painting quotes for my house in Kirkland?

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This is a question that comes up a lot. A home owner puts out the word for estimates to paint his or her house, and they get back wildly different quotes. One quote is $18,000, another is $11,000. How can there be such a difference!

Is each painting contractor fully licensed, bonded and insured?

Interior PaintingThe first way a painting contractor can cut the cost out of the job is to skip that pesky insurance and bond. Fingers crossed, of course, that one of his workers doesn’t fall off a ladder and split his skull when that two gallon can of paint hits him on the head. If anyone, even a burglar, hurts himself on your property, you can be liable. That’s why it’s always a good thing to have liability insurance for your house regardless of whether you are painting your house or not, but hiring contractors requires you to work with reputable providers, because several factors come into play.

  • A contractor can have an accident, and being insured with the state means you’re not on the hook for the cost of their injuries.
  • Painting contractors who do not have insurance are likely to be taking other shortcuts as well. Most buyers don’t check this simple thing, but if for no other reason, it’s a good indicator that the painting contractor has good attention to detail.
  • Providers without insurance may be saving money before an exit from the market. Later, when you go looking to benefit from that ‘guarantee’, they may be out of business and long gone. Working with fully bonded, licensed and insured providers gives you some recourse should bad things happen with their work.

When there is a wide disparity in cost estimates, workers may not be fully documented

It’s probably beyond the scope of any one homeowner to try to work out who is a documented work and who is not, but by going with the lowest bid – one you know is so low to be almost unbelievable – you may be supporting the grossly underpaying of individual workers on the project. They owner of the company may be licensed, bonded and insured, but what about the workers who are getting paid six dollars per hour for their hard work? You probably want to do the right thing for anyone working on your precious home, regardless of document status, but remember that whoever you hire, you don’t want them to be so hungry they are a risk to themselves or the security of your household. Washington State law – perhaps the bane of all contractors in one sense – are there to protect consumers, and all law-abiding contractors as well. The idea is, when everyone sticks to the law, the industry itself – in this case, the home painting industry – gains a reputation of dependability and predictability that benefits everyone alike.

Does the contractor include color selection in the work?

One of the most difficult parts of painting is to choose the right color or colors. Some contractors avoid the subject entirely, perhaps in fear that a wrong color selection will make for one very unhappy customer, but mostly I think it’s because very few people are good at it. Sometimes one of the family members is very particular about what colors to choose, while the other is completely indifferent. Sometimes, very little care in color selection is taken, and the job finish is mediocre simply because no one paid attention to color selection.

It’s worth it to either choose a good color yourself, hire a painting contractor who is good at it to help you, or hire an interior designer to come to your home and help you make some good decisions.

Choosing great colors is the single easiest way to improve chances the painting job will be spectacular. Take the time – and a little money if necessary – to get the color question answered.

How did they come up with the numbers?

If the cost estimate is suspiciously low, ask them how they did the calculation. Most contractors work from a formula that involves the size of rooms, estimated hours to do them, multiplied by a dollar figure. It’s not hard to go from there to know how much workers are likely to be paid. If it’s billed out at $10 per hour, someone is not getting paid to do good work, or the number of hours is perhaps overestimated. If the hourly rate is many multiples of that, perhaps the job is overestimated to begin with.

Look at the formula to see how it’s calculated, but in some respects, the math doesn’t matter. Is the work worth it, and can you be sure they are going to do a good job.

What exactly is included in the painting project cost estimate?

A house painting contractor, if he has been in the business for some time, will have all of the tools necessary to complete the job. Aside from the owner having to get the house ready for the work, it’s the painting contractor who must provide the brushes, drop clothes, masking tape, and everything from ladders to trucks. One way a contractor could, in theory, save a little money, is to ask the home owner to lay out the protective cloths, masking tape, and so on. It would be a little unusual, but might be something a novice contractor might try to really low-ball the offer in order to get the deal.

Make sure all cost estimates cover the same items.

Expect to pay a little more if the contractor is a referral

Let’s face it, a referral is perhaps the very best kind of contractor you can find. That’s because you have heard first hand that such-and-such a contractor is the best available. Your friend sends you the recommendation because they experienced the work first hand. Providers know that too, and it means they can be expected to ask for a little more. They know that, because they do good work for a customer with the specific purpose of generating a quality referral down the road. Many such contractors live by referral alone, without spending much on advertising or any other form of direct marketing.

Paying a little more to a hotly referred contractor can be well worth it. You can proceed with high expectation that they will do every bit a good job as they did for your friend. That extra level of confidence can be worth it, because there’s nothing worse than a botched painting job.

More next week!

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