In the old days, asking a neighbor or friend for a referral to a craftsmen or woman was usually the only resource we needed. That, or wait for Dad to visit – he seemed to be able to do everything around the house … These days we tend to turn to the internet for almost all our resources and the almost daily arrival of a new referral site makes the options overwhelming. Can you trust a referral from Angie’s List, Yelp, Porch, or any of the multitude of other sites? Yes and no, of course; these companies will typically boost the profile of contractors who use the site’s advertising to increase their profile on the site, and so attract more of the site visitor’s attention. But this feels disingenuous; how do you then double-check or qualify the merits and background of a contractor who manages to catch your browsing eye?
1. Look past the online pabulum and generic testimonials and read instead for the details that belie a sincere and thoughtful assessment of a painting contractor’s service and skill. Does the testimonial feel personal and specific, or general? Does it include the name of the contractor or one of the craftsmen who worked on the project?
2. Google past the first page of results and look for the more critical reviews that can show up on the less travelled sites that show up on page 2 and beyond; this includes the civil or criminal cases local municipalities will post.
3. Ask and look for proof of experience; visit state websites to verify years in business; ask the painting contractor’s insurance provider how long their worker’s compensation and liability policies have been in effect; a good contractor builds relationships with vendors that should last years. If a contractor won’t provide you with a COI or certificate of insurance which lists the provider’s name, this contractor is operating off the books and does not deserve your business.
4. Ask to speak with customers from last year, two and even three years ago. What remains in the customer’s mind is the experience – this is the flavor or taste, if you will, the contractor leaves behind, long after the paint is dry. This also allows the customer to comment on the contractor follow up attending to small touch up items, or worst case scenario, if the paint is still sticking one year later…
5. Verify all licensing is in order; ask your state for help to determine what licenses are necessary; these can include licenses to work around lead-based paint, a significant concern for families with small children living in buildings that pre-date 1978.
6. Beware the broker/contractor – an emerging business model is the company that purports to send its employees to your home but actually outsources, or subcontracts, the work to another company. The risk? The value of your project to the subcontracting company is usually worth 50% of the price you are paying to the primary contractor, so you get 50% less service, experience and skill. The real downside is the risk and exposure to a completely different company than the one you have diligently researched and qualified. We include photographs of our employees on our website with a brief bio, so you can see who is showing up at your door.
7. Association membership matters – the contractor who cares to join a professional trade association like the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, shows professional sincerity and investment in their continuing education. In a crowded marketplace where every company trumpets its excellence this qualifier will immediately eliminate 75% of the players!
By following these tips, you should be able to find a trustworthy, qualified, painting contractor for your home or business.
Catchlight Painting is a professional residential painting company specializing in interior and exterior painting projects of all sizes including historic home restoration. Catchlight foremen and crew are experienced, skilled, courteous, tidy, and detail oriented. We are licensed, insured and lead safe certified.
From time to time we publish original guest articles. The above article was written and pictures provided by Nigel Costolloe.
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