Why Hire A Professional Painting Contractor?
Before you decide to hire the economy priced painter, a friend who is handy, or “do it yourself”, here are important points to consider that suggest that price and inexperience may not provide you the best value.
Painting can be hazardous work, whether it’s working on a ladder or dealing with dust, paints and solvents. Hiring a professional contractor means you don’t have to worry about these problems.
If your home or business was built before 1978, it may have some lead-based paint in one or more of the older coats, which can cause serious health effects when it is scraped or sanded in preparation for repainting. Professional contractors will take appropriate steps to protect you. Painting contractors are required to furnish EPA-produced pamphlets to their residential customers and certain other customer types before they begin a job that involves disturbing lead-based paint in or on a surface. Professional painting contractors will understand and be willing to follow the recommendations on this pamphlet.
Preparation & Painting
Getting the surface properly prepared makes all the difference. Professional contractors know the value of preparation and will do it right.
Knowing Paints and How to Apply Them
The choices today are more complicated than just oil or latex, and professional contractors will know what works, how to use it, and will have the right tools for the job. Professional contractors utilize and partner with professional paint, coatings, and wall covering suppliers.
Cleanup and Disposal
Hiring a professional contractor means you don’t have to worry about dealing with paint residues and other leftovers. Professionals will know how to handle hazardous wastes that may be part of the job.
How to Choose the Right Contractor for Your Project
Most people do not buy a home improvement project often in life. It is easy to get confused about what is critical and what is important. The one factor that will affect the success or failure of your home improvement project is who you select as your contractor. Many people spend far more time determining the products to be used. The right contractors will listen to what your needs are and what goals you have. They will know the products that will give you years of trouble free service. The right contractor will have done all of the training of its people to know how and why products are installed correctly. They will make sure the installation follows manufacturers requirements for long term warranties. . They will have done all of the background checking of employees. They will have all of the insurance necessary to protect you and its employees. The truth of the matter is that there are hundreds of things good contractors need to do. Please look at the list below to ask a few of the right questions. This will help you make the most important decision correctly.
Always verify that the contractor is licensed and insured
Quality contracting firms will be only too happy to provide you with copies of their license or business registration and copies of their current certificates of insurance. They should provide bonding information (if the job is large enough to require such) and documentation of safety training and compliance programs. Spend a few minutes to verify that the insurance and registrations are current by contacting the insurance broker and regulatory agencies.
Written Contracts are a Must
Reputable contractors will encourage the use of a written contract. This contract should clearly explain the scope of the work to be performed. It should also cover such items as what products will be used, what is going to be done, and even what is not going to be done. Knowing the total scope of the work enables you to carefully evaluate the different bids you may receive with the proper information and keep them on a level playing field. The contract serves to protect both you and the contractor.
Invest Time in Verifying References
Obtain a list of references from the prospective contractor. This list should include the contact person, address, and telephone number of the previous client. Follow up on this list with a phone call. Remember, the contractor will not give you a bad reference. Therefore, ask references if they know of any other work this contractor has performed. Be sure to ask whether the contractor and employees treated you professionally and with respect. The references you are interested in should be projects similar in size and scope to yours. Also, some of the projects should be at least a few years old. This will help you gauge the performance of the construction and materials used. If possible, try to see the work that was done. Discuss any guarantee or warranty programs the contractor may offer. Ask about the manufacturer’s warranty on the products to be used on your project. Remember you are looking for long-term durability. The use of high quality products is as important as the selection and performance of the contractor. Verifying references will provide a return on your project investment.
Your Complete Satisfaction is Our Number One Goal.
Selecting a Contractor
The critical success factor in any construction project, is the contractor. A qualified, professional, experienced contractor knows what results are required for Owner satisfaction, as well as, what will lead to dissatisfaction down the road.
Allow yourself a minimum of 1 hour to sit down with each contractor. Both of you need to explore the problems, products, and prices. You will be surprised at how many options and questions can be discussed with a professional contractor.
Taking only 1 hour of time getting to know and qualifying the contractor prior to awarding your project can save endless hours of time dealing with dissatisfaction.
A professional contractor will take pride in his work and will have no problem discussing your options, his previous experience, and his list of satisfied customers.
Make sure that you ask the following 7 questions to make sure that you select the best contractor for your next project…
1. Does the Contractor have a permanent place of business?
All Contractor Selection Guidelines start with this question because most dissatisfaction involves low-bid undercapitalized contractors. If the contractor is not permanently established, how can you be confident he will complete the work – or will still be in business tomorrow to handle any problems?
Automatically reject any contractor without a permanent place of business.
The courts are full of dissatisfied Owners with worthless judgments against insolvent contractors.
While there is no way to guarantee any business is financially stable, there are some tell-tale signs, and steps you can take to protect yourself, and assure your satisfaction.
Visit the contractor’s place of business. Does it look like it has been established there for a long time? Does it appear that the equipment, manpower, and wherewithal are available to complete your project in a professional and timely manner.
Automatically reject any bid from a contractor without substance.
Do not be swayed by a personable contractor or his attractive low price. It is not worth the risk. Select only a contractor that is financially committed to the business. Select someone you can call if a problem arises in the future.
A professional contractor will have no problem giving you a tour of the facilities and provide whatever financial proof is required for your peace of mind. Don’t be timid about asking. The professional respects these questions and knows that time is being well spent with an intelligent buyer.
2. Does the company carry insurance and is the coverage adequate?
When deciding on a contractor be sure that the company can provide specific, detailed information of their insurance coverage. They should be able to provide the name and phone number of their insurance agent so you can verify everything.
This is the second most important question. Owners have been financially harmed by uninsured or inadequately insured contractors.
Automatically reject any contractor without proper and adequate insurance.
A contractor should provide you with a Certificate of Insurance for Comprehensive Liability, Worker’s Compensation, and Completed Operations Insurance that protects you in the event of an accident or provides financial coverage for a failed project. The insurance should be adequate to cover the property.
Contractors may also carry other forms of insurance, such as health insurance and vehicle insurance. Do not be confused by these policies. Do not allow the contractor to pass them off as his proof of “contractors” insurance.
Call the insurance company and verify coverage.
Contractor insurance policies are for one year; and unscrupulous contractors have been known to modify the dates. Check carefully the dates on the Certificate of Insurance. Is it current?
Worker Accidents: Be aware that Owners are sued for injuries on their property. Most Owner Insurance Policies exclude outside contractors. It is critical to make sure there is proper and adequate coverage for the workers while they are on your property. Don’t be fooled by the contractor who says he doesn’t need insurance because he is self-employed. Every contractor in the state of Washington is required to carry Labor and Industry insurance for every employee. A contractor telling you he has sub-contractors doing the work and doesn’t need L&I is only telling you half the truth. The sub-contractor must carry the insurance.
A tell-tale pattern of an uninsured or underinsured contractor is the low-bid. Be very wary of the low-bid. Also be wary of multiple low bids. You may have several uninsured contractors bidding the project.
Today, insurance to protect the workers and your property is a significant cost of a construction project. For example, Worker’s compensation premiums are typically no less than 20% on top of the worker’s wage, and can go as high as 100%, depending upon the type of work. The contractor, working without insurance, saves between 20% and 100% of his labor cost by operating without insurance, but he puts you at great risk. The contractor working without insurance generally has no assets and nothing to lose, so you as the Owner are totally exposed to any losses.
A professional contractor will readily provide you with a Certificate of Insurance and phone numbers you can call for verification.
Job Site Safety: Safety violations are now causing projects to be shut down and penalties are levied against involved parties. Some Owners have been stuck with incomplete projects due to violations and the contractor’s unwillingness to pay fines or return to the site. In some cases, the Owner can be classified as the employer and they can or have been found responsible for the fines.
Ask contractors about their Safety Plan, which is required by OSHA.
Professional contractors will readily provide you with a Safety Plan so you are protected. The Safety Plan is another tell-tale sign of professionalism or the lack of same.
3. Is the company a licensed, registered contractor, and a member in good standing of a trade association?
Automatically reject any contractor who is not licensed.
However, do not be fooled by a contractor with a license. Generally, the license requirements are minimal and the law is generally poorly enforced. A better test is to question the contractor’s commitment to his trade. Is he a member of the trade association?
Call the trade association and verify the answer. Ask if the contractor is taking Continuing Education Training, similar to other up-to-date professionals. Ask to see certificates. A professional contractor will be happy to respond to these questions.
Reject the contractor who blows off your questions as not being important. There are probably a lot of other issues he deems unimportant and will blow off, maybe one being your satisfaction.
Note: Coddington Construction Inc. is a member of CCN, Certified Contractors Network. CCN is an elite group of highly qualified Contractors dedicated to providing only the very best contracting experience for its clients. It has training events to help contactors improve.
4. How long has the company been in business?
Needless to say, the more experienced the better. Less than five years is often a tell-tale sign of a potentially unstable business. Most contracting businesses (90%) fail within the first five years. Examine new business with extra care before awarding the project.
Check references carefully. Current references are only valuable to see if the Owner is happy with the contractor’s work, but only long term references are the proof of actual performance of the contractor’s work.
Most failed construction projects do not happen quickly, but deteriorate over a period of years. New project references should carry minimal weight in the decision making process vs. long term projects.
A professional contractor will gladly provide references and will want you to speak with his past customers. Some of these people may be your neighbors.
Automatically reject any contractors who cannot provide a reference list of customers.
5. What is the contractor’s record for complaint resolution?
Automatically reject any contractor who says they never had a complaint. The best of contractors find themselves in disputes for one reason or another.
Ask the contractor for the name of a problem account and explanation as to how they rectified the complaint.
Be forewarned that many quality contractors, in business for a long period of time, and with thousands of completed projects, are exposed to disputes. The question is, not if they have had disputes, but what was done about the dispute after it occurred.
Tip: One easy way to find out how a contractor handles customer complaints is by calling the Better Business Bureau.
6. What is the company’s workmanship warranty?
Typically, contractor workmanship warranties are for one year or more. Longer warranties are not more valuable than shorter warranties. The length of the warranty is less important than the intent and ability of the contractor to stand behind his warranty. The professional contractor often performs well beyond the written warranty period because he knows that this is what builds customer loyalty and referrals.
Automatically reject any contractor with an unbelievable warranty. The warranty is just a sales tool to that contractor and you don’t know what other “bill of goods” you have been sold.
The long-term warranty is provided by the manufacturer. It is critical to be assured that the product will be installed according to the manufacturer specifications, or there will be no warranty regardless of the document you were provided. With many materials, the warranty is often only valid if the contractor is “Certified” to install the product.
Ask to see the contractor’s training and certification certificate from the manufacturer. Call the manufacturer to determine if it is valid and the contractor is still in good standing.
Professional contractors will have no problem providing this proof. In fact, they will usually present their credentials before being asked.
7. Does the company provide sufficient details for the project being performed?
The contractor should be able to clearly explain how they plan to perform the work and what materials will be used.
Compliance with local ordinances – Question the contractor about what is required. Contact the local building department for verification. Question if the permit is included in the cost and who is responsible for obtaining the permit.
Product Selection – Make sure the proposal includes a specific reference to the product and color you have chosen. Your proposal will be your proof of purchase in later years.
Manufacturer Warranty Specifications – If the project is to be warrantied by a manufacturer, confirm that the agreement states that the work will conform to the manufacturer specifications.
Clean-Up – Call for daily clean-up to help minimize safety issues or exposure.
Payment Terms – Schedule, terms and method of payment should be clearly detailed in the agreement. Establish an agreement regarding retainage if a certain portion of work is left incomplete or if there is a “punch list”.
Preliminary Inspection – Plan to meet with the Job Foreman who will be responsible for your satisfaction. Make sure he fully understands the specifications and promises made by his company. Establish the condition of the property before the work starts in the event there is property damage during construction.
*Coddington Construction is proud to be a member of the Certified Contractors NetWork, and would like to thank them for providing these “7 Questions”.
Tips on Maintaining Cedar House Siding
Proper maintenance includes power washing, staining and sealing whenever the heat of the sun fades the finish or moisture starts to turn to mold or mildew. Always allow wood to dry well before applying a new stain or finish.
Moisture is the biggest and most common problem to homes with cedar siding. Moisture penetrates the siding through the smallest cracks and crevices, but keeping your siding dry takes just a few simple steps.
• Check the flashing and caulking around your home
• Try to maintain the interior humidity of around 40%
• Install heating wires at the eaves to melt any ice before water backs up under the roof shingles
• Be sure your attic is properly insulated and air is well-circulated
• Hire a contractor to take these measures if you cannot do it yourself
Cleaning Cedar Siding
Many people choose cedar siding for their homes because of how it looks. When it is properly maintained, cedar siding can be beautiful because of its color, but it can be susceptible to mildew, mold spores, bugs and dirt.
To clean, use a pressure washer. One can be rented from your local tool rental store. Use a somewhat low pressure to wash the siding or you will damage your wood. Wash the area with water first, then mix together a solution of water, dish or laundry soap and a little bleach for a cleaner that can transform your siding from grimy to gorgeous.
Cedar shakes and shingles are no different. They, too, can be damaged by moisture or severe weather, such as hail. But they are not maintenance-free and do not last a lifetime. They will need replacement if damaged and while they are highly efficient and are biodegradable, maintenance is required.
• Make sure downspouts run all the way to the ground to keep moisture away from your shakes
• Keep downspouts free of debris
• Trim overhanging branches to avoid debris from falling on the shakes or in the downspouts
• Treat your shakes to an anti fungal treatment at least once
• Cedar needs to be stained or painted every few years to maintain its natural beauty.
• Woodpeckers and Cedar
• Many homeowners have complained that their cedar siding had been damaged by woodpeckers. These birds peck loudly to define their territory or to find
insects as their next meal. Whatever the reason, you can discourage them from pecking on your siding by scaring them away with wind chimes, a windsock,
or aluminum pie tins hung from fishing line. Woodpeckers also love suet. Hang some inside a wire basket and they will stop pecking your siding and go
for the suet instead.