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Should you go with the cheapest bidder?

For some folks price isn't everything, it's the only thing. And realistically if all things are equal why not go for the best price. The problem is, while you can easily compare apples to apples prices on merchandise like cars, tv's, coffee makers, furniture

and even apples, it's not so easy to compare when it comes to service related businesses such as a reputable painting contractor.

There are plenty of factors to consider when hiring any contractor for a service you need. It goes without saying that everyone wants to get the best quality service at the best price, which is not the same as the cheapest price. Generally speaking the cheapest price will buy you a whole lotta aggravation and disappointment--but at least you don't pay a lot for it. There is a balance between getting the best price while still getting a quality finished product. So what relative factors should be considered when comparing the price quotes from different painting contractors? Here are a three basic guides to follow:

Insurance. Do not allow any contractor to work on or in your home unless they have BOTH general liability and workman's comp insurance. General liability covers your personal property or anyone's property in the neighborhood that may somehow be damaged by the contractor you hired. Workman's comp prevents YOU from be liable if either the contractor or a member of his crew gets hurt while working for you. Remember, if the contractor does not have insurance, he is no longer a private contractor--he and his crew are your employees making you liable for both personal property and personal injury claims.

Experience. How many years does the contractor have at his trade and in his business. Being good at your trade doesn't automatically make you good in business or visa versa. Why is that important? When you speak one on one with prospective contractors, what confidence level do you get when he describes his company or his crew? How about when he discusses the scope of work you want done, does he convey confidence that he has the experience to accomplish quality results? A well established contractor in your local area is more likely to be around for any warranty issues (discussed next) that may come up as well as for developing future working relationships. It's very important that you as the client have a good feeling from the start.

Commitment. Any contractor wanting your work and more importantly your money, will say whatever he thinks you want to hear in order to get it. The problem is, that kind of empty talk doesn't necessarily translate to your satisfaction. So how do you ensure quality from your contractor? Simple really. First, as the customer you dictate what you want to have done but you expect the contractor to know the best way and best materials for the job you want. Make certain he provides a detailed scope of work on his quote. A well written scope will include specifics about what prep is to be done prior to painting, how many coats are included, what brand and quality level of paint will be used, as well as projected start and completion times and of course payment information.

Plus a scope of work is a great tool for comparing quotes. Secondly, he should automatically include at least a one-year warranty against faulty workmanship or materials. A warranty from the contractor says he's committed to your satisfaction.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a quality interior or exterior painting job, the cheapest price almost assuredly isn't going to give you that. However, with a little homework on your part you'll find a contractor that'll give a quality job at his best price. After all both parties have to feel good about the deal.

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