Ask companies to include all details in writing. Although that sounds simple enough, too many contractors submit offers such as "paint house for $5,000." A friendly contractor may offer a reassuring handshake and promise that the crew will take care of all the details — starting on time, working every day, cleaning up, etc. That's great, but why not include each point in the proposal? If it's a challenge to get a written description of labor, materials and other details, things will probably get worse when the work starts.

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If a company has a formal training program, it’s a safe bet that they have their act together. They can do training in-house through regular meetings of their employees.  They can have field training systems in place, usually coordinated with classroom training sessions.  They can also use trade associations, such as PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America) or paint manufacturer’s representatives to stay up to date with the latest materials and techniques. 

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Prep. For new work the painter accepts the finish done by the drywall or plaster and once he accepts the work and starts painting he owns any wall repairs. Existing work is a different thing. I take a high intensity light and circle the kinds of defects with chalk so we are all in agreement before they start. Sometimes this results in a higher price and we have to compromise on how much to do...

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 45 percent of all painters are self-employed, though that number may be slightly higher if companies hire freelancers or self-employed painters as part of their team. The price that painters charge for their services is largely dependent on their association and whether the job is completed in the warmer or colder months (painters often charge more in the summer and less in the winter, given demand and other factors). More information regarding painter rates and associated factors is included below.

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To win work, contractors generally have to bid against other suppliers. To make an accurate bid, they estimate the time and materials required to complete the job. They measure the area to be painted and discuss the type of finish the customer requires. They assess the quality of the surfaces to work out how much remedial work they must carry out before painting. They might have to remove old paint or wall coverings, or repair cracks and other damage. They also calculate the cost of any essential equipment, such as scaffolding for exterior walls.

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Some contractors work on time and material others on a firm contract. I would never hire the former and am leary of the latter. A contractor may low-ball a bid to get the job planning to make a killing on change orders. If you say good morning to them, they charge you extra for that. If the contract is not very, very specific and extensively fleshed out or if they display their change order schedule prominently on top, show them the door.

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