Paint Project Advice for Homeowners

Written by on January 28, 2017 in Industry News with 0 Comments

Before you meet your painter, you may wander a path of research seeking paint project advice.

The journey starts with Googling around for a project you had in mind, or one you’ve started, stopped or fired someone from. Maybe something you saw on Pinterest. Whatever your topic, looking for paint project advice is a long and windy road that leads to a fork emotionally.

paint project adviceWe all Google just about everyday. Fast knowledge is at our fingertips. Internet search serves up enough appetizers that you must quickly choose if you are “do it yourselfers” or whether you are seeking to hire your project out. 

This all happens in seconds that are measured in clicks, you see just enough of that dreamy side to know what it looks like. And you run straight in or click away.

Split second decisions, and important ones.

DIY: Inspirational, Not Necessarily Educational

What is not to love about DIY shows? They are exciting, empowering. Don’t fall too hard for that.

You can be seduced by networks both online and on tv with really cool episodes about fun projects for people just like you (only prettier). Everyone is super psyched with a project done on a Saturday afternoon that apparently costs like a couple hundred bucks and is LIFE changing!

paint project adviceFrom there, you hit Youtube and maybe a Facebook Live video to fill in what you think are the specific “blanks” of final paint project advice. Off to the store you go. Armed with a variety of incomplete knowledge and hoping that safety, cleanliness and skills merge upon your project. Sometimes, they do. Often they don’t, but at least you are doing something and it is cheap. 

You end up frustrated that most of your research entertained you, but set you up to attempt something that is kind of not real. It motivated you to action, and just took some time and money.

For most people, as long as they are not embarrassed by their results, its ok. The tv or online show made you feel like you’d fall back in love with your space and be happier than “ok”.

Key Takeaway: painting and decorating look really easy on a screen.

The Other Fork

We’ll cut to the chase here…your internet research will land you results like this:

How to Hire a Paint Contractor

  • get 3 written free estimates
  • get phone numbers of 3 recent customers
  • require proof of insurance

The “3 Things” are usually well-intended, but not enough. At the same time, its overthought.

New Rule: ONLY Hire a Good Paint Contractor and they Cost a bit More

Can’t you pretty much tell by first impression whether you will be comfortable hiring someone or not?

The low price is often the desperate one. We coined the term Despermator years ago and have preached it to the paint contractor choir for years.

[Have We Really Been Talking about Despermating Since 2009?]

You, the consumer, are responsible for the outcome of your project, and it starts with who you choose to do it. Painting is pretty up close and personal business because it is in or on your house, where you live.  And, whether you hire the cheapest or the priciest painter, neither wants to pay to do your work. One is just a little more willing to take the chance of that happening.

Cheap painters are cheap for a reason. 

Do not overlook any uncomfortable feelings or questions about trust or business competence when meeting a painter or contractor to discuss your project.

Its really important to pause the pursuit of the deal (a “good price”), and take a look at WHO you might be dealing with. Despite all the glorious DIY shows, paint projects are rarely a few hours or even a one day thing. It is often a multiple day process, sometimes even weeks or months.

Key Takeaway: Its not about getting the best “deal”.

Insist on the best fit for you and your family, your lifestyle. Our devices have us all conditioned these days to use Google and find out what we need to know about…everything. Whether your lawnmower or clothes dryer broke down, the roof needs to be patched, or you think your child has a concussion, you are clicking around for the answer you want to hear. Then you are armed with knowledge and power.

When you get your 3 estimates for your paint project, you may have 3 different people stand before you with a value proposition and a price. They all say they would put 2 coats on and do a nice job, and they all give you a price.

  • Does the person seem like a representative of a good company?
  • Or maybe a skilled self employed, honest hardworking person?
  • Or just a creep in need of cash?

Every industry has all of these characters. Ask lots of questions. Hire a good listener. 

Your Gut Feeling May be more RIGHT Than the Article You Read Online

  • Did any of them look like they were telling you $300 because they looked like they just really needed $300?
  • Which one listened to your ideas with your vision and interests in mind?
  • Which one seemed rehearsed and fake?

Many articles that offer paint project advice will tell you to discard the highest price, I would caution you from doing so. You may not be getting taken advantage of by what seems to be a high price. You may be looking at 2 other guys with lower prices who need work bad enough to do themselves or you a disservice to make it happen.

The Last Bit of Paint Project Advice

The best way to look at your project is in terms of what your budget is. That is the most important question to ask yourself. If you have $2000 to spend, let that be your barometer. Find the person you trust to hire and let them help you decide how to get the most bang for your buck. That is what real professionals do.

It only makes sense, if what you want is beyond your budget (often, it is), then you either need more budget or you need to do some value engineering. Looking for a lower price can work against you if the high price was honest and accurate. 

Don’t reveal your budget right up front, ever. But do communicate to the person estimating your project what you would like for results, and let them price your wish list. If their numbers line up with yours, and they seem like a good fit for your home life, then they probably are. Continue the dialogue. It can be that simple. Most professionals are not high pressure or in a hurry to get you to commit. If they are, slow it down or remove them from your consideration. 

Buying services from craftspeople is not like buying commodities on Amazon. So, use your human factor and interpersonal skills to choose the best people to work with.

Until there are robots we can rent for paint projects, we all must use good and reasonable judgment when deciding who to partner with on home projects.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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