Price is obviously a major player in the decision making process. You could have a rental property, strapped for cash, or getting ready to sell, and just want the absolute cheapest price period, no sales pitch, no upgrades in paint, just the absolute least expensive bid, that’s that. But for the sake of reason, let’s assume for this post, that you are staying in your home, have set a reasonable budget for the project, and want quality craftsmanship, with a warranty, from a contractor.
If you’ve followed my advice, starting at step one, you have gotten your contractor leads through the local paint store, or, from a friend. Since that is the case, the price range for the job shouldn’t be too far off between the contractors.
This is the part where you might think that I’m going to advise you to take the high, middle, or low bid, but it’s not, and here is why: at this point, even with the numbers that you have in front of you, you possibly don’t have an accurate price from your contractors. There is a little trick that contractors use to get work, it’s called “extra work not specified in initial bid”. Many contractors will throw a lower bid to get the contract, and then pile on the extras at the end to make up for the front end money lost. Extras do happen, quite regularly actually. When painting an exterior, inevitably, there is wood rot way up high that you didn’t see and this needs to be taken care of. Make sure you have in writing how extra work is to be performed. No one likes a surprise when they receive their bill, so make sure that you have an understanding with the contractor that extra work will only be paid if you are notified what it is, and how much cost will be added before the extra work is done. They might have a cost per sheet, or an hourly rate plus materials, whatever the case, don’t let this bite you in the end.
Down Payment and Payment Schedule
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, if you are planning on having work done on your home, ranging in the thousands of dollars, expect to pay some sort of deposit. I personally, always have requested it, and have only been questioned a handful of times. Yes, there are horror stories of contractors taking the money and running, but this really is a small percentage of the marketplace. When a contractor requests, as regular business practice, to receive a deposit, the reasoning is; significant material cost, and labor for the crew for a certain amount of time. A small crew of three to six painters can rack up some costs in one weeks time. The good news is, you don’t have to look at this deposit as possibly never seeing it again, the contractor has been referred by a reputable source, you’ve met with them, you know their location, you have their insurance, their web address, Face Book page, the truth is, you could put some hurt on them quickly if anything fishy goes on. But, I have heard of some doozies, nonetheless.
Some examples of standard payment schedules can go as follows, for a ten thousand dollar job, for easy numbers:
- $500.00 holding deposit. If an exterior is scheduled in the winter for a spring time frame, the contractor will probably ask for some type of holding payment. This allows for accurate scheduling, which is a very hard task as a contractor, and it also assures them that you have skin in the game, and are serious. Before I started this system of requiring a holding deposit, customers would have a tendency to cancel the work all together, or postpone the project until later dates.
- Half of project balance prior to start date. This will allow materials to be purchased, and help with payroll for the upcoming project. Use your own judgement on how much time in advance you would pay this draw, one week before start date is about as far out as I like to go.
- Half of remaining balance-plus any extras since start of project. Generally, there will be an agreement that when, “this amount of work gets done”, or, “at the end of week one”, this will be paid.
There is room for variance, every contractor has their own practice, and there should be little or no reason to worry if you make sure that every part of the payment schedule is in writing. I would warn you though, never pay in full, up front, for any work done at your home, too many things can turn south by doing this.