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hiring help

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

I was at a garden center the other day (where else would I be this time of year?). There was a crew of men painting a barn. I told them when they were done they could paint my house. I need my house painted but at the time I was only kidding. The foreman jumped off the ladder and gave me his business card. It seemed official enough.....

Dh is concerned because many of the painters didn't appear to speak english. What kind of documentation should I require before I allow someone to work on my house? Business licence and proof of workman comp come to mind but is there anything else I should be concerned with?

I have a two story stucco and siding much do you think it would cost ?- I am concerned that in my lack of experience in these matters that I will pay too much........

Also how do I estimate how much paint a painting contractor might need?

Any help would be appreciated - thanks

Gazelle, CA

Hi, Roxroe,

A business card means nothing. Anybody can have one printed up. Besides the documentation you already mentioned, make sure to ask to see the business's liability insurance certificate. If they are not insured and an accident happens, you will be liable. Whether or not the workers have proper documentation is the responsibility of the business owner. If the foreman speaks English and can communicate with his crew in their language, you should be able to work around the language barrier.

To estimate how much paint is needed, take measurements of the house, and make notes of how many windows and doors there are, as well as how much other trim. You can then go to a paint store and ask them to estimate the amount of paint needed. This will be influenced by factors including: what condition is the existing paint job? Are there bare spots that will need to be primed? How many coats do you want? (One is the bare minimum, if you are just freshening up a paint job that is basically okay. Two or more are required if the existing paint is not in the greatest shape -- and while the second coat may take slightly less paint, it takes the same amount of labor.) Are you making a big change in the color? (If so, it will take more coats to cover.) What brand of paint will be used? They're not all equal! But remember, the cost of the paint is a small part of the total cost of the job. The biggest part of any paint job is the labor, and the biggest part of any good paint job is the prep work -- perhaps power washing, scraping, caulking, sanding, protecting your shrubs, spackling, repairing, etc. Another factor that will really affect the cost is how the paint is going to be applied. If they're planning to brush the paint on, it will cost more than having it sprayed on. (More labor.) Get several estimates -- but don't necessarily go with the low estimate. Some painters just spray on one coat of cheap paint without doing any prep work -- but that's a false economy, because in a year or so your house will need to be painted again. Get references, and then actually check them.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

Thanks Hannelore1 for your help......still getting quotes.......Wish I didn't work full time - I would paint it myself.

Oak Lawn, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi Roxroe,

I wouldn't hire anybody without checking references. Angie's List might be available in your area. It is a consumer "grapevine" where people submit reviews of contractors that they have used. Go to and see if they are available in your area. If so, it would be worth at least a 1 or 2-month membership just to find the right outfit! I have found a great roofer, window installer and tree removal company through Angie's List. In my area they have an extensive list of painters.

When you do find some viable leads, I'd recommend getting estimates from at least 2 or 3 painters. Pricing can really vary -- and the most expensive isn't always the best. The process may seem like an ordeal, but it's best not to rush into anything.

Good Luck!

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

alas no and we don't have a craigslist either.......

it is a great idea but no sense in reading reviews of contractors 4 hours away

wish we did

Ronkonkoma, NY(Zone 6b)

A lot of good advice in the above responses. I agree, at least 3-5 quotes, ask the painters in their quotes to tell you their methods and what brand paint they will use. A lot of people hit it on the head, painting prep makes all the diff in how quality of a job it is. Also, ask them for references and talk to someone who hired them if you can.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6a)

roxroe - in Winchester, call American Paint Company. FABULOUS work and reasonable price. Truly.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)


Winchester, VA(Zone 6a)

UR Welcome. They painted our house, 3 stories, last spring. loved it, still do.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

how much did it cost? If you don't mind my asking?

Winchester, VA(Zone 6a)

$6K or something like that. my husban helped them paint when he could. And scrape a bit. That kept the cost down.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

Just because the owner speaks English that doesn't mean the employees do. After the major hurricane we had on 04 everybody here was desperate for a new roof. This roofing company from Texas came over to "help out". The guy seemed like a good business man so I hired him to put on my roof. When the day came, I had about 8 people on my roof and none of them could speak English. The original man was nowhere to be seen. I won't get into where they were from, but I have the feeling my roof was put on by illegals. And the bad thing is that one man probably got 99% of my money.

Aurora, CO(Zone 5a)

I initially posted recommending Angie's List, but now I'm not so sure. I just checked their website. I had a good experience with my home inspector, and said so in a report, and they posted it. I had a horrific experience with my movers, said so, and submitted the report. Angie's List refused to post it. No reason given.

So other people will continue to use this horrible moving company, and get screwed over, like I did, and no one has any way of knowing that they shouldn't use those movers. So plenty more people will get screwed over.

If Angie's List only posts nicey-nice reports, then they're not that valuable.

This message was edited Sep 24, 2006 7:42 PM

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I would call or email Angie's list and ask them what happened--I've seen negative reports on there, so I think there are a couple other possibilities besides them not allowing bad reports--one could be that there were server problems the day you tried to submit it, or maybe you accidentally slipped in a word they don't like (easy to do when you're really upset over terrible service!), or maybe something else entirely. But I would try to find out, like I said I know I've seen negative reports on it in this area and I can't think that they'd allow them here but not in Colorado.

Lakeland, FL

I uses to paint houses while going to college. I simply charged 10.00 per hour and the home owner paid for the paint. Stucco soaks up a lot of paint. I did a big single story house. I painted a pool deck and his living room and all of the outside of the house. I charged 920.00 .They were very happy. I painted about 10 homes.
A freind of mine who owned a painting company trained me.
First you pressure wash. Then , you cut in/ trim from the top of the house to the bottom. A good painter leaves no drips or runs. I never had insurance and let the owner know that in advance. I played music to keep the brush moving. Today , I would charge 20.00 per hour .

This message was edited Jan 23, 2007 2:27 PM

Tuckerton, NJ

This message was edited Mar 18, 2007 5:49 PM

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Chuck sounds like you were really good. I'd worry about someone working off ladders though who had no insurance. So I guess those who have it would have to charge significantly more than $20/hr?

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