Painters with bad reputations can avoid the problem of reference checks by giving their customers lists of relatives and friends. The people will say great things, and the customer won’t be the wiser. The best way to avoid this smoke and mirror trick is to ask specific questions about the project. If the reference seems hesitant, doesn’t know the details, or gives sketchy responses, be skeptical.
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First off all clients want a "deal" As a painting contractor for 38 years I can tell you that residential-commercial-industrial clients (and their needs are all diffrent. It seems this discussion mostly concerns residential repaints,so here goes--first off ALWAYS get a personal referance from a friend or co-worker. Always get an itemized contract that specifies the prep,color, number of coats, and specifics on payment. Remember you want to set up a relationship with the painting contractor of your choice. Bond, license and insurance are required to get a contractors license and are readily available online at your state Labor and Industries website. Second-- find someone you trust. He or his crew will probably be left alone in your home for most of the time. I always tell my clients that I wont bring someone to their home I wouldnt have in mine. Third--$$ Dont ever pay up front always insist on progress draws if the project is 2 or 3 phases remember If a contractor wants $3000 to do the job and you give him half up front he will be working for $1500. It WILL affect the quality of the product. In 38 years of business I have never taken a deposit and have never not been paid in full remember do what you said you would do for exactly what you said it would cost and there will be no problems with getting paid. one last reminder to clients you are also being evaluated when you interview a contractor. He is sizing you up as well. If he thinks you are a bit sketchy the the price will go up or he wont take the job at all. I have turned down some jobs that looked very profitable on the surface that turned out not to be so.(word gets around fast in the small painting community) Good Luck to clients and contractors