A few weeks ago after quoting for a interior re-paint, I was asked if could provide a list of references and some photos of our painting work prior to this potential client making her decision on which company she was going to choose to proceed with having her home painted. I was happy to provide a list of some of our past customers, and photos of our work. I always smile to myself when customers ask for a list of references because believe it or not, this only happens maybe once or twice a year. So this time when asked, it got me thinking… Why don’t I get asked for this more often? After all, it’s in a consumers best interest to do their due diligence and make sure they’re hiring reputable companies and trades people.
So today I want to talk about some things to ask before hiring a painter/painting company to paint your home. Don’t be afraid to ask your painter things like:
Do you have any references I can contact?
Simple and easy. This is a great way to get to talk to real life people who have used these particular painters before.
Do you have photos of work you’ve completed?
Look for variety of work, and detail/close up photos. For larger projects some painters even have a list of homes they’ve completed that you can walk through up close to view their work.
Will you be doing the work yourself or with your crew?
Some companies operate by ‘piecing’ out their work. This means that a manager or owner will meet with you go over the details of the contract and take your deposit funds, but that’s one of the few times you’ll see that person again until it comes time to get the funds remaining. This can become an issue for a few reasons. Homeowner is under the impression they are hiring the painter they’ve just met with, but when the job starts totally unfamiliar and unknown painters appear on site to little or no background to the homeowner. This can be a very uncomfortable and awkward surprise. Not to mention all of the previous time spent asking for references etc. was all for not. This is where some homeowners get into a precarious situation with possible defects in quality and workmanship.
Are you covered by WCB (WorkSafe BC)
Very important! The last thing anyone wants is an injury on site. Unfortunately sometimes accidents do happen, and as a home owner one needs to ensure that the company/painter being hired is covered by WCB. Otherwise if not, as the homeowner you could be held liable for those injuries!
Do you carry liability insurance?
Another small detail that carries big potential problems. Liability insurance is designed for unforeseeables and possible accidentals. Heaven forbid your painter’s are painting along and break a expensive chandelier, or forget to re-connect your washer and flood your home, or a chemical fire starts near their supplies?! Carrying this insurance is definitely a sigh of relief for both parties.
Some questions to ask of your painter’s references:
Were you happy with the work?
It’s fact of life that everyone at some point or another makes the odd mistake or in some cases for whatever reason people try to cut corners. I can remember over 15 years ago, my parents had a painting crew in to paint some very high walls and windows inside their home. It wasn’t until a couple years later when they decided to re-paint the home themselves, that they realized what poor quality that paint job had been. Those painters had tried to save time and didn’t bother about sanding the walls, large sections of drips, and spots missing paint etc.
Did the project drag on, or was it completed on time?
We see this quite regularly in the Okanagan, because we only have a few months of ideal weather for exterior painting and something about the sun shining inspires people to have the inside of their home painted – so the summer months become extremely busy months for most painters. Some have difficultly scheduling, or often times something comes up that pushes back the schedule. Either way, during these months it’s easy to take on too many jobs which can backlog the completion time. Make sure you ask your painter about timeline and come to an agreement before hand (pending variables such as weather) to avoid having your project run too far over time.
Were you charged extra for anything not agreed upon in the quote?
This one is very important. Before any job starts, there should always be a written quote outlining the terms and scope of any project. Both you and your painter should go over all the details in the quote before commencing the project. If there is need for something to be added on outside of the original quote those additions should also be mutually agreed upon and initialed by both homeowner and painter prior to proceeding with any extra charges.
Would you use these painters again?
Seems like a fairly obvious question but surprisingly not so. Sometimes it’s the simple questions that bring out an interesting detail or crucial deciding factor.
These initial questions can save a home owner a lot of potential issues down the road.
When my customer asked for a reference list she did so almost in a timid way as though she were asking me something forbidden or embarrassing. I think she thought that I would get the impression that she didn’t trust my company. On the contrary was impressed with the level of detail and the time she invested in researching exactly who she was hiring.
And in the end? I got a phone call back one day later asking – “When can you start?” 🙂