The Painter’s Estimate: Hire A Painter Tips Series – Red Flag No 1
The Painter’s Estimate may look good, sound good and have an attractive price. But do the details clearly define what you, the painting customer, want from the paint job for the money you’re willing to spend? If it’s a “Painter’s Estimate”, the details will always weigh in favor of the painter’s profit and not always what you thought you were paying for.
There are, of course, many levels and standards of workmanship available in painting; each representing different levels of cost. So it’s very important to discuss the care and attention to detail you’re expecting while your painter is doing the initial assessment as this needs to be spelled out on the written estimate and represent the price level quoted. If you don’t go over this critical aspect of what to expect during the painting process and final results, you’re asking for a “Painter’s Estimate” where the painter decides what you will and won’t get.
The most common display of the painter’s estimate disconnection between painter and client, is when the job has started and you find corners are being cut by the paint crew. They may be plastering straight over cracks that should have been taped. Or they’re not sanding at the very least to promote the adhesion of the new finish coats. Then if you stop your painter to ask why these basics are being skipped, you may be referred to your quote to discover that there was no mention of providing any of these services in the first place. To add insult to injury, you may also be told that any service not detailed on the written estimate is now extra and will cost you more just to get the most fundamental preparation done on your paint job.
To avoid this sticky situation, you should watch for the signs on the estimate before even considering hiring such a painter. One painting estimate does not fit all. Look for written evidence of specifics you discussed with your painter during the estimation process. If the estimator said they will prime everything before painting, read to make sure full priming is listed on your quote and not just spot-priming. Or if you were told they’ll use top-line paint from a particular paint manufacturer, make sure your estimate has the paint spelled out for you so you can look it up online specifically to verify it’s everything claimed to be by the painter. Otherwise, you may find that the only similarity to what was promised was the brand of paint. The painter can easily substitute a low-line paint from the same manufacturer if it wasn’t detailed on your quote for you to know the difference.
The point is, if it isn’t written don’t expect it. The “Painter’s Estimate” only benefits the painter. What you’re looking for is a “Customer’s Estimate”; one which clearly spells out all the details you can expect for what you’re paying. And if there are any grey areas, be sure to ask that they be spelled out for you in writing before you sign and the work begins. But if nothing else, know this: if the estimate dictates too many aspects of the job which were never discussed with you directly, or worse, leave you with too many questions, you’ve got a Painter’s Estimate and the wrong sort of painting contractor to be dealing with.
Obviously you’re not expected to know everything about the painting trade to hire a painter. But you should hire a painter you can trust to do what’s best for you, your property and your budget. So if you’re looking at a “Painter’s Estimate” void of the personal details of your discussions or dictating too many details which were not reviewed with you and leaving you with more questions than answers, you should only proceed with caution if at all. It’s easier to spend a little more time finding another upfront and honest painting contractor who will be transparent in their operations and methods and advising you on best practices for a professional paint job. Not the other way around.