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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Advice from the Pros:

Finding the Best Pro for the Job, Part One

paint contractor at work 

Hiring a painter is a big commitment. You're inviting a crew into your home and entrusting it to their care, so it’s crucial they are trustworthy, considerate, reliable, and professional. We asked Chicago-based contractor Jeff Hester to give us his advice on finding the best pro for the job. Here's his six top things to watch for as you research candidates. In a follow up post he gives us his key questions to ask before signing on the dotted line.

1. They don't return your initial call within 24 hours. 

During this "first-date phase" prospective contractors should be trying to impress you. If they’re not prompt now, they won’t be responsive later.

2. It takes more than a few days to get an estimate.

This could be a clue that they’re not well-organized and professional.

3. Their address is a P.O. Box.

If they don't have a brick-and-mortar business address (at the very least, a home office) you won’t know where to find them if there’s a problem.

4. They want 50% down before the work begins.

It's reasonable for the contractor to ask for a 25% deposit so he can buy materials, etc. But don't pay half of the total job estimate until half of the work is completed. NEVER pay in full until you’re fully satisfied. Once you've paid, you'll have no leverage.

5. The job description is vague and verbal.

Do not accept general offers. Terms such as "I'll prep, prime and paint the exterior" are not clear. Get a written proposal covering details of the work to be done and an itemized list of the cost for each aspect of the job: prep, priming, painting (including number of coats), and clean-up.

6. They’re not particular about the paint they apply.

Check out what products they use, from paint to brushes. Of course, we're partial to Benjamin Moore, but the non-commercial message here is, expect the top-of-the-line product from within a brand--regardless of the manufacturer. You're paying a lot for the labor, so you should have confidence that the finish looks great and will last for years to come.

Now that you know some of the red flags, read the next blog to see what Jeff says you should expect from any good-quality contractor.


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I would definitely recommend this to my close friends, Nice to see such beautiful information.

WOW. You are absolutely right! The photo chosen for this post doesn't accurately represent a true pro's work. Thanks for catching that. :)
We'd also like to point out that the photo is not of Jeff Hester. Jeff has more that 32 years of experience as a painting professional. If you want to see more about Jeff, check him out here: http://apps.facebook.com/bmexperts/experts/39

Anyone who uses tape...is not a pro in my opinion.

haha, so what is up with the extra wide tape on the baseboard, the small/tiny cut-in brush plus the 4 inches of brushed in cut-line? You do not really qualify as a paint guru and should not be commenting on the industry. I suggest you voluntarily step down from your pedestal and write a letter of apology for falsely impersonating a master painter. I am outraged!

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