You might think it’s obvious how to hire the best Adirondack house painter, after all Tom Sawyer had no problem getting others to white wash that fence, so what’s to know? But to avoid any frustrations — or worse still — money lost — especially if your building is in the Adirondacks where winters are severe and painters come and go — review these basic suggestions before you embark.
1) Make sure the painter is insured and has a legitimate business.
If this is a project bigger than your closet, and you want to use a pro, you will want to make sure your painter is insured in case there is an accident, an injury, or damage to the property. You will also want the painter to be a legitimate contractor so s/he can purchase paint at a wholesale price and get the best price for you — as a result.
As part of standard interview questions (while you are seeking an estimate of the job) ask the painter about insurance and consider seriously the risks you may be taking if there is no insurance involved. Can you really afford to be sued if something goes wrong on your personal or professional property?
2) Get a free on-location or in-home estimate and make sure the painter has experience with the work required for your project.
It’s fine to hear a ballpark figure over the telephone, but if you are serious, you will want a site-specific estimate.
If the painter is experienced, when s/he views the project site, s/he will point out possible challenges to the job, what might be done in advance to prepare or repair the site for painting, and help you manage what will and will not be done as part of the painting work. A good painter will also ask you questions regarding access to the site, where they should park, what the rules are regarding workers and work hours.
Do you have the time to waste or resources to burn by not hiring a seasoned professional? Can you really afford to use a painter who has no experience in staining cedar-shingled boathouses? Or using an electric lift to paint the fourth floor of your commercial building?
3) Ask for references. And pictures.
Don’t stop at the estimate. Ask the painter for at least three past clients who would be willing to talk to you. Three should be enough to assess the quality of the painter’s work — if the work was done within a reasonable time period (was it? Or was the job accepted and then tabled for later because the painter got a bigger job?) and if the client was ultimately happy with the job completed. Ask the client, would s/he hire the painter again?
Ask the painter for examples of his/her work. Does s/he have a website with images you might consider?
4) Communicate clearly your needs and expectations and ask those of the painter.
When you are ready to hire ask for proof to see the painter is insured. And then, before you seal the deal, it’s really important that you communicate your expectations; because once the job begins, adding things on will likely cost more. So try to review as much up front as possible. For example, when you say you want the exterior of your house painted, what parts of it do you not want painted? Are you expecting it to be one uniform color or are there decorative parts you want painted different colors? How about the foundation? The chimney, the cable or electrical boxes?
Additionally, ask the painter about their expectations, like needing staging areas for supplies, access to the driveway, or having access to running water.
Also important, ask the painter about clean up and disposal issues. Do they need access to your garbage receptacles or do they take trash with them (everyday?) and will they leave you or your staff with any extra paint they do not use?
5) Understand what is and is NOT included in your estimate
The cheapest estimate may not include everything you end up being billed for. So understand most painters usually bid their projects based on an hourly rate, their prep time, supplies, type / quality of paint, ceiling/roof heights, equipment needed, difficult access points, and number of people working. Ask your painter to talk through with you various additional or potential costs. And again, know, it’s always better to clarify all projects costs in the beginning before the work begins.
Specializing in painting and insulation, Christopher M. Caldwell LLC has been dedicated to the detailed care and preservation of historic houses, boathouses, Great Camps, and commercial buildings in the Adirondacks since 1978.
For your free painting, staining, or insulation estimate, contact us or call Christopher Caldwell at (518) 891-7354.