Tips For Comparing Paint Bids
There are 4 important things to remember when getting prices from different painters:
1) Ask for recent references
Each painter bidding your job should be able to provide you with the names and numbers of jobs they have recently completed. You should be able to contact these people directly.
2) Ask to see proof of Insurance and Contractors License
Each painter bidding your job should be able to provide you with a valid Contractors License number, proof of Liability Insurance, and proof of Workmen’s Compensation Insurance if they have employees. This is very important! To check the status of a contractors license, click here (This is a link to the State Contractors Board "License Check" web page. Enter the License # of the contractor you wish to check. Scott Shaw's License is: 546255. If you check my workers compensation history, it may indicate that I am exempt, and have no employees at this time. This is because I run my payroll through BBSI, an employment service in Chico. My painters are technically employed by them, and they provide the workmans comp policy.)
3) Compare Apples To Apples
First of all, each painter should be on equal footing as far as license and insurance go. It is absolutely unfair to expect a painter who is playing by all the tax and insurance rules to compete with a contractor who does not pay his share of these legally required expenses. Not to mention the risk you as a homeowner put yourself at when you hire an unlicensed painter.
4) Make sure each painter is clear about the scope and specifications of the job
The bids will be skewed if one painter included the garage and the other two didn't. Also, take into account each painters assessment of the amount of prep needed and number of coats needed to do the job right. These factors will cause variations in prices. To make it easier for you to directly compare prices, don't hesitate to ask the contractor to "itemize" or give a separate price for things like extra coats or that shed out back.
What about Guarantees?
Finally, a word about guarantees/warrantees. I have seen different painters offer 6 year, 8 year, 12 year, and even "lifetime" guarantees on their work. In my opinion, these "guarantees" are nothing more than selling tools for their bids and don't really guarantee much of anything. Here's why: The State Contractors Board says all licensed painters must guarantee their work for 1 year. Any decent painter will come back to fix problems within that time period. What most painters won't tell you is that their extended 6, 8, or 12 year guarantee is really only based on the manufacturer's warrantee of the paint they used! And if you read the fine print on the paint can you will find that these guarantees cover only a very limited set of circumstances, and only cover the cost of new paint (their paint) and not the labor to apply it! Other painters will guarantee their labor as well as material, but with so many exceptions as to make the guarantee worthless (ex: "guarantee does not include or cover any siding on West or South sides of house, no decks or porches, no doors"). My strategy for staying out of the "extended guarantee war" is not to offer one based on "years." I believe the quality of our prep work and the materials we use is such that all our jobs will live up to or
surpass the "average" life of a paint job, which is 6 to 8 years. I can also say that in 20 years of doing this, I have always returned at a customers request to correct any problem, and I have never been called back to fix any "catastrophic paint failure" 8 or 10 years later. Our motto is: "Do it right the first time."