Spring is just around the corner, and that might mean you start planning some home improvement projects, including updating your home’s interior or exterior paint.

Hiring a professional painter for your home project could save you time and money in the long run. Professional painters have the necessary tools, skills and safety equipment to give you a beautiful result in a safe way.

Despite the benefits of hiring a professional, quality work and good customer service are not a guarantee. Consider the following before hiring a painting company:

Have clear expectations. Before you call a painter for an estimate, think about your schedule and your end goal. When quoting, painters want to know what colors you have in mind, what finishes you prefer, and if you want a specific brand of paint. If you are unsure, painters can make recommendations.

Plus, make appointment coordination easier by knowing when you’re available to let painters into your home and when they need to finish work each day. If you’re getting the entire interior of the house painted, it might make sense to move out for a few days as it can be done more quickly.

Narrow your search. Search BBB.org for companies accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Also, consider asking friends and neighbors for recommendations, and identify at least three reputable contractors who can bid on the job. Check these out at BBB too.

Get a comprehensive estimate. Professional painters provide clients with detailed estimates, including a full breakdown of their costs and schedule. The estimate should include the specific cost of labour, materials, paint, travel time (if charged) and the time frame in which the painter will complete the project.

If you have any questions or something is missing from the estimate, discuss this with the painter before the project begins. It’s much easier to correct an estimate than to change your agreement mid-project.

Ask the right questions. Asking the right questions will help you understand the painter’s experience and what is included in the cost. It also helps you ensure you are comparing similar offers.

Some of the following questions might be helpful when speaking to a painting company:

— How long have you been painting houses and how experienced is your painting team?

– How long will it take to complete the project?

— What kind of prep work is included in your service?

— What kind of prep work, if any, do I need to do?

— Does your estimate include exterior wall pressure washing and crack caulking and filling?

— What kind of paint and strain would you use and how many coats do you recommend?

— Who will clean up after the project is complete?

— What happens if paint gets on my carpet, roof tiles or concrete?

Confirm your painter’s credentials. Before hiring, make sure the painter has all necessary and current permits and licenses required by your state. There are nine counties in Tennessee that require painters to have a home improvement license for jobs between $3,000 and $24,999, including Hamilton, Bradley, and Marion counties. Jobs in any location costing $25,000 or more would require the company to hold a general contractor license. Businesses that purchase these licenses are insured and bound.

If your project is in another county of Tennessee or in Georgia, find out what insurance the painter has to make sure workers are covered for injury on the job or damage to your personal property.

Prepare yourself. Understand that there are certain things a painter might ask you to do to prepare you for the project. For example, you may need to move furniture to the center of the room or remove it entirely from the area. You’ll also need to remove paintings and other wall decorations, as well as switch panels and outlet covers. Painters may ask you to clean the walls before painting with a damp sponge. Also, get pets out of the way when painting day comes. Talk to your contractor about how much of this type of prep work is expected of you compared to what is included in their quote.

Watch out for lead. Homes built before 1978 may still contain lead paint. If this is the case, painters may need to take extra precautions that can affect pricing and the duration of the project. It is important for your family’s health and safety that this is done properly. So don’t hire anyone who suggests they can take a shortcut for the necessary lead paint removal procedures.

Confirm the cleanup details. Most professional painters maintain a clean work environment and take care of cleaning at the end of each day and at the end of the project. However, it’s always a good idea to discuss this part of the project with the painter before beginning work. Make sure you clearly understand who is responsible for cleanup at each stage of the project.

Create a payment plan. Never pay in full before the project begins. You may be asked to pay part of the fee to enable the paint to be purchased, along with installment payments at certain project milestones. Always withhold final payment until you are completely satisfied with the end result of your painting project and have received written confirmation that all subcontractors have been paid (subcontractors can mortgage your house if the main contractor does not pay them).

For more information on hiring a contractor, see BBB Tip: Hiring a Contractor. BBB also offers tips in the article BBB Tip: Home Improvement Scams. You can reach your BBB at 423-266-6144 or email [email protected].

Michele Mason is President of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.


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