So if you’ll notice, I didn’t title this blog “How to Hire a Good Painter”. It’s easy to hire a painter, it takes a bit more diligence to find a solid one. It will be this attention to detail and questioning, though, that will land you with an excellent tradesman, or a hobbyist hack. This post is going to teach you how to hire a painter – a great one.
If you’re wholesaling, you’re typically spared the agony of vetting contractors, supervising work, and dealing with performance. If you’re rehabbing, renting, or selling properties, though, painting it typically always included on the list of “must do’s” to prime your investment.
So why is it difficult to acquire a honest, skilled and fairly-priced painter? The answer is, it shouldn’t be, but I’m sure we all have nightmare stories of When Painting Goes Wrong.
1) Where to Find Leads for Good Painters
The mirror should not be your top answer. Listen, these bony arms have seen their fair share of frog tape, cutting in, and rolling until I feel like I can roll no more. Who am I to not dig into some labor work from time to time to save money, after all? I’m a business owner, that’s who. And as adequate as I feel my painting might be, I can bet you my work is elementary compared to a proficient veteran. Let alone the hours, frustration, and disdain I feel after having to re-paint a room because the previous owners decided that 3 different shades of the same color that look the same in different lighting was a good idea (WHO does that?!)
A good source is your local supply stores. As in, the actual paint supply stores, ie, Sherwin Williams, Dunn Edwards, etc. Ask the friendly sales staff if they have a couple people they recommend in that area. And, ask them why. Why do you recommend ABC painting and have you had other customers come back later and speak of their good work?
You can also reach out through your local REIA to see if there are go-to painters that other investors in your area like to use. It’s also a good way to ask for references, as they should be willing and able to provide you with names and numbers of current or past clients, whom are also investors.
If all else fails, check Craigslist and AngiesList. Professionals still use these sites to advertise and I often find solid companies that are simply using a high-traffic but less expensive way to get and keep their name out there. You may have to research their company a bit more, look up licensing details, and ask for references, but there are plenty of good contractors out there that are looking for work via the web.
2) How to Hire a Good Painter
With my experience working in property management under the principals, I got a lot of exposure to working with general contractors and subs. One of the rules I was taught consistently was to always get 3-4 bids, no matter what. (Eventually you will find a few go-to people, but even their pricing/materials/quality of work may change, so it’s always good to continue to get other bids).
It allows you to get an idea of who sounds professional, who returns your calls in a timely manner, how they bid the job, when they can start, if they are licensed, among other things. Always give yourself options. On the licensing note, I typically do not care if they are licensed or not. I’ve found numerous tradesmen that work under someone elses license, or work as a painter/electrician/etc for a company during the day, and side line the same work at half price in their own hours. Just get the true story and go with what works best for you. But if you do hire someone that is un-licensed/bonded/insured, just know you may have less recourse if the deal goes sideways and/or more exposure if someone gets hurt.
Once they visit you at the property, you can also see how they behave, how they will approach the job in terms of organization, prep, and delivery. If in doubt, ask. Get a bid in writing with specifics, and determine whether their pricing includes paint, or if you’re supplying it.
At this point you should have enough information and feel for the prospects to choose someone who you feel is proficient, fair, and drug and drama free!
3) The Details
Never pay someone for the full job upfront. If they need a small stipend if you have a larger job to buy materials, so be it. But visit them on the job once they start to check their prep work, lines, and quality of work. You should have a clean job site that shows they have taken the time to prep the house, fixtures, trim, etc and shows clean lines and even paint. Any drinking/smoking/family members hanging around should not be tolerated. This is your business, so make sure it’s treated like one. If things aren’t being done correctly, make sure you have communicated exactly what needs to be done and get it in writing so there are no assumptions or memorization. If the job is done shoddily or there is monkey business going on, it’s time to move on to painter #2.
Painting a house is one of the most dramatic and cost effective ways to improve the look and resale value of a home. Skip the DIY mentality and learn to hire and work with an experienced painter. The process of finding a good one, utilizing them, and seeing their handywork is that much more rewarding.
What about your experience readers? What questions or system do you use to help you find a good painter? Have a painting horror story, please share!
Photo Credit: erix!