When hiring a paint company, make sure you ask the right questions to clarity what is or isn’t being done. An estimate is the time when you need to lock down the specifics, and that means asking questions. Don’t let a painting contractor make you feel bad about asking questions – a good contractor will be willing and able to answer any questions you might have. So what are some of the best questions you should ask during a painting estimate?
What does the estimate include?
Don’t accept “ballpark estimates” or a number written on the back of a business card. You should get a line-item estimate that details where every cent is going, a break down by room or aspect of the exterior is a good place to start. Not only does this provide well-defined expectations for the painter, it provides reasoning for every dollar being used for the customer.
As an estimate is just that, a line-by-line estimate can help you and the painter figure out what the costs of changes to the job may be. You’ll have to remember that an estimate is unlikely to be the hard bottom line for a job, as supplies could change in price or more supplies and labour could be necessary to complete the task. It does provide a good-faith target, and most painters will try their hardest to not incur more expenses than those set up on the estimate. Some may even guarantee the estimate won’t change which can give you even more peace of mind.
At Rochele Painting, we will always supply a comprehensive quote. Our interior painting customer Rebecca can attest to that – “It was good, they quoted on everything, they itemised and we got to decide what we actually wanted painted and what we didn’t… sometimes I felt I should have reiterated what I wanted but it wasn’t a problem and then the next morning I had the email of the quote and itemised, it was amazing.”
How is the estimate calculated?
Not all painters will calculate their estimate using the same methods, and some may not have standard pricing estimates at all. At Rochele Painting, we carefully measure the painting areas, so we can calculate proper paint amount to order. This allows us to be economical while also ensuring that there is enough paint to complete the project. We also have plenty of projects that we can consult in the past, which allow us to make decisions precisely. You can see rough estimates for painting from us on our pricing page.
What brand and grade of paint is going to be used?
All too often, folks worry solely about the colours of paint being used in a project. Colours are essential, and we have a Free Colour Consulting services that is part of our painting process. However, the quality of the paint is often overlooked. A low-cost estimate will likely result in the use of low-grade paint. Low-grade paint will not hold as long, will be more susceptible to changing conditions, and will damaged more easily.
There are numerous reasons for a painters selection of paint brand. Sometimes, it’s a matter of quality and price. Other times, it is the desire to work with knowledgeable store employees and an organized support system. The price of paint should never dictate what paints are used, colour options and quality should come first. Talk to your painter about what kind of paint they will use. If you feel that a different brand will be best for the job, see if the painter is comfortable using the type you prefer. Most will accommodate you.
In our case, we use some of Australia’s top paint brands in our work, so you can be sure that you are receiving quality goods. This includes a wide range of low VOC paints from brands like Taubmans and Solver – perfect for use in houses where the smells and chemicals are a concern. We also offer the choice of acrylic or enamel paint, according to the customer’s needs.
How will you deal with special circumstances?
Every project is different, and every project will have circumstances that will set it apart from other projects. They may be physical, like the terrain and proximity to other houses that Rochele has experience dealing with, like at our Highgate Hill Cottage painting project. There are a range of factors the contribute to special circumstances– just ask Fiona, where we did water damage paint repairs, about how we worked around her rescued chickens! Make sure your painting contractor has the right plans in place to work around your individual needs.
How long have you and your painters been licensed?
A painter who has not been licensed for long may not have the proper experience to tackle certain projects, or they may not be trustworthy. A painter who is recently licensed may be a fly-by-night crew who can’t or won’t back up their work. They may leave you with a partially-finished or a poorly finished project. It’s not to say that new painters aren’t worth a shot, as all of them have to get their start, but a painter with a short history behind them warrants a little more research. Ask for references, talk with past clients, or request a portfolio of work.
When you’re a veteran painting company like Rochele, this is a question that rarely comes up. With licensing from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and membership in Master Painters Australia, we have a solid background and portfolio.
How many painters will be working on the project, and who are they?
This kind of question can help you get an idea of who will be in and out of your house during the project. Equally important, it will let you if you are getting a quality group of painters. Knowing who they are and their levels of experience will let you know what you are paying for. We know your house is a personal space, and you need to trust those who come inside.
At Rochele, we take that into consideration in our hiring process, and it has paid off. Many of our painters have been with us for 15, even 20 years and are constantly getting compliments from customers like Geoff and Rosemary. We make sure our workers are prompt, professional, and reliable.
How much prep work is covered in the estimate?
This can work a few different ways. First, you may be able to find painters who are willing to lower their estimate if you do some prep work. That being said, you may also find some painters who are completely unwilling to work in an area that they have not prepared. Prep work can also be an extensive task, including everything from moving furniture, to patching walls, to covering the floor or taping off windows. Being clear as to what is expected out of both yourself and the painter can help keep costs (and tempers) from rising.
In particular, you’ll want to ask about the amount of wall prep they have included in the estimate. It doesn’t matter how good the paint itself is; poor surface preparation is guaranteed to lead to paint failure. Make sure they are sanding, cleaning, and filling as needed to make for a smooth, even finish. There is plenty of prep work that needs to be done – take a look at how Rochele Painting prepares for a paint job.
Do you have painters insurance, and what does it cover?
Most of the time, this insurance will cover accidents on the job site, and will help to protect the painter and the property owner in the case of an incident. It could be a painter or helper hurting themselves on the site, or scaffolding collapsing and damaging property. Having limited or no insurance could be a costly mistake for all parties involved. You don’t have to ask our estimating team about insurance – we display our insurance coverage with Work Cover Queensland, WFI, and Austbrokers, and all the certifications necessary on our website.
How prompt and flexible are you?
This might sound like opposites, but it isn’t actually. As a homeowner, you are busy, and you don’t have time to wait around for tradies to show up. However, you also have emergencies that can crop up. As Louise says, “If you waste a homeowner’s time it often means they are missing out on valuable downtime and family time. All those things that understanding that time is money for busy people and that where they can help us with time is valuable.”
Our painters will be prompt, with firm appointment times and accurate scheduling. They will also be flexible to work with your life. If you have a day where you have to cancel due to an emergency, we will certainly be able to work with you to reschedule and keep the project moving.
What kind of cleanup and disposal is included?
Even after the paint has dried, there is plenty of work left to do. Empty or partially full paint buckets, drop cloths, old trim, and more may be left behind at the end of the process. The tape may need to be pulled down, faceplates and lights may need to be re-hung, and trim may need to be reattached. When getting a paint estimate, check to see what is going to be taken care of by your painter, and what you will be expected handle. Our practice of cleaning up after a project covers everything. To learn about exactly what we will take care of, you can read our article on cleaning up after painting.
Asking the right questions during the process of getting an estimate can be the difference between getting a great value or having multiple headaches during and after the job. It’s alright to be specific and expect your questions to be answered in-depth. After all, it’s your money that will hire them. Ask the right questions to make sure you have a reliable and quality painter for a easy start and an exquisite finish.