References, references, references
When evaluating painting contractors, there is no substitute for references, says Harold Jagoda, owner of J&D Painting. Ideally, learn about finished jobs in your area that you can personally visit and inspect. If the contractor provides a phone number, call ahead and ask to meet the customer in person. And don’t just survey the work. Find out whether the job was started and finished on time, whether the company was comfortable to do business with and whether workers left the site clean and free of paint drippings.
Equally important, ask whether problems arose and how the company responded to them. Was it courteously and without complaints, or begrudgingly and only after an argument?
If you know builders or building contractors, ask them to suggest a painter. Since they’re likely to have worked with many painters in the course of business—and because their own credibility is at stake—their recommendations carry a lot of weight.
Jagoda advises wariness of any paint contractors who “guarantee” their work for years. Many larger companies merely end up offering dissatisfied customers a few replacement gallons of paint. As often as not, warns Jagoda, getting a company to honor a so-called “warranty” becomes a matter of negotiation.
“If there’s a problem in the first year, they take care of it, since they have to under California law anyway. In the second year, there’s a discussion. After that, it gets harder and harder. Even under the ‘warranty,’” says Jagoda, “many customers end up paying as much to have their house repainted” as they would have otherwise.
He suggests using operators who are licensed and insured. Another valuable credential: membership in PDCA, the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.
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