As a painting company that occasionally deals with other contractors and trades, we are familiar with how disruptive renovations and construction projects can be while they are going on. This can be compounded by disreputable contractors, who may not be entirely up front with their policies, billing, or quality of work. In the interest of transparency and fostering a better relationship with our clients and our work environments, here are ten simple questions to ask a potential before hiring a contractor (including us!) that will save you a lot of headaches later on.
1. How long have you been in business?
A contractor that has no history or prior references immediately raises some red flags. Being new is one thing – and any worthy contractor will have proof of apprenticeship, contacts, and completed training projects – but trying to dodge past issues is different. For example, The Urban Painter has been in operation since 2008, and we have plenty of online reviews of our work. Research the contractor’s name and company, and look for reviews of their practices and quality of work. If you’re getting resistance on the topic, beware!
2. Is there a written warranty for service or materials?
When hiring a contractor, you should know that any good one should offer a written warranty or guarantee on their work, and it’s recommended that you know ahead of time what it covers and how long it lasts. Many materials they use may also have a manufacturer’s warranty included. The Urban Painter, for instance, has a two-year warranty on all labour and materials. It’s a good idea to get all of this, in writing, prior to the start date.
3. What is the timeline for this job?
While unforeseen issues can sometimes delay projects, a professional contractor should be able to estimate a start and completion date for your work without too much trouble. You can also ask about concurrent and upcoming jobs they have, and how they will affect the timeline. Also be sure that you’re both on the same page about how to address changes to the schedule that may arise. When we do the estimate for you, we will give you an anticipated start date, with follow-up calls to confirm accuracy or changes; we also make sure our crew leads know a rough timeline to work with when they arrive on site and make a job plan.
4. What is the payment schedule?
Some solid advice is to never pay the full price of a contracted project up-front – and a decent contractor shouldn’t ask you to do that. With that in mind, it is important to discuss payments before the work begins, and be aware of how much is due and when. We have everything in our contracts and are licensed in Alberta as a prepaid contractor.
5. Will the same team be here through the whole project, and do you work with subcontractors?
Since contractors like ourselves often work on multiple projects at a time, it’s not unheard of for different workers to come onto and off of job sites. While other companies’ policies may differ, we try our best to maintain a consistent team for each site, so that there are not a lot of new faces always around your site. Furthermore, all of our painters are full-time, trusted employees – we do not subcontract!
6. What is a typical working day like?
When hiring a contractor, ask about start and end times, typical noise levels, and what tools will be used on-site. Be sure to show the contractor which outlets, bathrooms, and parking spots can be used, if applicable, and to inform them about who will be home, pets that may be present, etc. We have dedicated start and finish times – though, of course, we’re always willing to work with your schedule – and take great care to be as unintrusive as possible while we’re working in your home.
7. How will you clean up at the end of the day and the job?
Cleanliness is what separates a great contractor from the rest. From the appearance and clothes of the workers, to the care taken while cleaning up the site, a professional company will take the time to present themselves as such. At The Urban Painter, we take our reputation for cleanliness seriously – our uniforms and tools are clean, our work areas are constantly tidied up, and we are always aware of places that are prone to becoming messy. We do a dedicated end-of-day clean-up, every day, as well as a more thorough cleaning upon the completion of the project.
8. Where are you storing tools and materials?
Rather than leaving items all over the place, a good contractor should have a specific area to keep all tools and materials when not in use. Furthermore, this area should be chosen while consulting with you, in order to minimize its impact on your environment. We can’t speak for other companies, but for us, during the first walk-through when our painters arrive to begin work, the crew lead will ask where you would like us to store our supplies – you can count on us never leaving them somewhere inconvenient.
9. How will you protect my property?
When hiring a contractor, you should know that a reputable one will take some simple yet effective steps to keep your home in good condition, even if they are rebuilding parts of it. We follow the same line of thinking: we use plastic, paper, and drop sheets to cover unpainted areas; we remove our shoes when working indoors; we won’t move any large furniture without your express written consent; and we are always sure to lock up at the end of the day if you are not around. These are just a few of the details that a good contractor should do as part of the project.
10. How do we deal with additional charges?
Inevitably, there will be jobs where unforeseen circumstances arise, and additional charges may be necessary – for example, if there is more prep work than initially thought, or if there is a colour change partway through the project. Reputable contractors will discuss all additional expenses with you beforehand, and give you a breakdown of what is being paid for – all in writing, of course – and won’t do any of the work without express approval from you. We do the same thing. We have specific paperwork for just this situation, and are completely transparent with all costs through the process.
The thought of hiring a contractor might fill you with dread, but with a bit of research and preparation, your home renovation project can go a lot easier than you think. Why not get started with The Urban Painter? We have the expertise, the equipment, and the energy to get your home painting projects done in a timely and quality manner, and we’d love to show you our work! With our free estimates and colour consultations, it’s now easier than ever to plan a refreshing change to your home’s character. Call us at 403-774-1424, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more today!