• How should one choose a contractor?
The decision to hire a contractor is an important one, and it can be daunting. Taking these steps will make it less so:
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.
- Choose a contractor who is licensed, bonded, and insured (liability and workers comp).
- Get at least three, possibly four bids. More than four can get confusing.
- Bids should be detailed. A good contract is detailed and clear: what is the scope of the work, the time table, and the payment schedule; what processes are entailed; what materials are to be used? Compare apples to apples.
- Get three or four references. Ask about the prep. Ask about character.
- Go with your gut! Price is part of it, but only part. Do you trust the person you will work with? Do they listen? Seem thorough? Knowledgeable? Will they be efficient? Do you want them around your private space?
- Plan ahead. Good contractors are generally busy. Lead time is a good. Scheduling for non-peak seasons can save money.
• Are you licensed and insured?
YES! Licensed, bonded, and insured with both liability and workers comp. This is critical for the protection of all concerned parties.
• Do you give free estimates?
A thoughtful estimate takes time. We want to be fair to you, the customer, and to us as well. To do that I need to assess your expectations, diagnose problem areas, and offer a reasonable approach that suits your needs. That said, we will be happy to honor any bona fide request with a bona fide estimate.
• What's the difference between a bid and an estimate?
A bid is a firm offer, a promise to perform a certain task at a certain price. An estimate is just that, an estimate of the time and material costs (T&M) it will take to complete the job as described. The final charges may be more or less than the estimate. For some projects a bid is appropriate. Other jobs involve greater uncertainty. In these cases T&M might be more appropriate. In cases where a firm bid is desired, expect that bid price to be higher than an estimate, because the contractor is in essence assuming the risk.
• What is a change order?
A change order is any work requested or authorized that entails a color or
carpentry change, or any other change or request that may entail additional work not otherwise described in the initial proposal. A common example would be work necessitated by physical damage (for example, caused by termites) that was not detectable or estimable prior to undertaking the job.
• Do you do change orders?
Absolutely. We always do our best to accommodate you. But we must charge accordingly. Color changes are perhaps the most common. It's always best to begin your color planning well ahead of time. Believe it or not, we once painted an entire home, only to paint it again, with a completely new set of colors.
• Are you pet friendly?
• Why do I need a professional painter?
Sometimes you don't! But sometimes you do. The question is: How do you know the difference? Inexperience may lead to mistakes, large or small. Homeowners, or beginning painters, may not be aware of all they need to know. This can lead to costly mistakes. Among the most common: applying water-based paint over oil without the proper prep. Our credo is much the same as the physician's: first do no harm.
Having been in business for more than 25 years, I'm still learning nuances of the craft every day. On the job, I'm called upon to answer many questions. One of the most valuable responses I can make? Three words: "I don't know." Then I do my best to find out.
• Do you do color consulting?
We are not color consultants, though I would be happy to recommend some. Nevertheless many clients have found our comments and suggestions to be quite helpful. Color consulting can take time, however, and we must charge accordingly. Of course you, the client, will make the final choices.
• Where do you buy your paint? What brands of paint do you use?
We buy from several paint stores. Each vendor has certain products that stand out. The important thing is to match the product with the task. Experience tells us what works and what doesn't. Price does not always indicate value.
• Do you use oil- or water-based paints?
Due to environmental considerations, oil-based paints have largely been phased out in California. The good news is the technology behind water-based paints has been revolutionary, and that's what we use for most applications. But, yes, we do use some oils, principally as primers, and also varnishes, urethanes, lacquers, shellac, and epoxies. We consider ourselves green, but green can entail a sacrifice in performance. Balancing these concerns depends on the client's wishes and the task at hand.
• What about two-in-one primer/paint combos?
Home Depot and other superstores pioneered their appeal to DIY customers. These paints have improved, and for some applications they're okay. But as a general rule I don't recommend them. Why? It is an axiom of engineering that any one product designed to accomplish two goals simultaneously generally can not do either as well as, and certainly not better than, two distinct dedicated products. The truth is that most paint jobs require two anyway. So why not use a dedicated primer and dedicated finish coat? Beyond that, in most instances in which one coat is sufficient, I've found that a single finish coat will suffice.
• How long can I expect my paint job to last?
This of course can vary greatly depending, among other things, on location, color choice, and quality of the substrate. Sun, moisture, temperature, usage, and traffic all have their impact. Dark colors weather more than light; jewel tones fade more readily than earth tones. Exterior stucco stands up better than wood. With all that in mind, I give my clients a sense of what they should expect and tips for how with the proper maintenance they can prolong the life of the job. For example: periodically washing the exterior, or re-varnishing that beautiful front door before it starts to peel.
• Do you take on small painting jobs?
Of course! My very first painting job was a small one in Carpinteria. If it wasn't for that job, and the small jobs we still do, we wouldn't be doing some of the bigger jobs featured in our photo Gallery. Small jobs are important in gaining your trust, your future business, and your referrals. We always bring the same level of commitment, the same level of ethical integrity, no matter the size or the glamour of the project.
• What is your territory? What areas do you serve?
Most of our painting projects are in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Hope Ranch and Montecito. But we have also on occasion ventured into Summerland, Carpinteria, The Valley, and even Ventura, depending on the nature of the job.