Here is a list of 10 questions that you should ask any contractor while receiving your quote.
1. Do you have a business card?
As soon as I walk in to an estimate and exchange greetings, I always hand out one of my business cards. You will now have the contractor's information and it shows professionalism on the contractors part.
2. Do you have any before and after photos of your work?
I keep a photo album in my van with before and after photos of previous work. I also have a bunch of photos on my phone from more recent jobs. I believe this also shows professionalism. If the contractor doesn't have pictures of previous work, than it would lead me to believe he doesn't take alot of pride in what he does. You also have to beware that he doesn't email you pictures(with the estimate) that are stock photos taken off the internet. If you would like to see before and after photos of my work, you can visit Scott's Painting Plus facebook page, or look up my business on Yelp, or visit my website.
3. Do you have a website?
This question can usually be answered by looking at the business card. If there isn't a website address on the card, I would still ask this question. You never know, the new cards could be in the mail. If he does have a website than you can check it out before hiring the contractor. If you would like to check out my website you can go to www.scottspaintingplus.com.
4. Do you have insurance?
This is a very important question. Most fly by night contractors won't be insured. If something were to happen to them while working in your home, they could sue you.
After hiring a contractor, always ask for a copy of their insurance. Scott's Painting Plus is insured by Erie Insurance.
5. Are you registered with the state as a Home Improvement Contractor?
It is illegal to perform work in someone's home, as a contractor in the state of PA, without being registered. The contractors that are registered are most likely legit businesses and are paying taxes. On the other hand, the fly by night contractors most likely aren't insured, registered, or paying taxes. When you receive a bid that is considerably low, it would throw up a red flag in my eyes that maybe the contractor isn't legit. Scott's Painting Plus HIC #PA097277.
6. Do you have references?
This is another important question to ask. Make sure you ask for their first and last name and their phone number. I recommend asking for three references and calling all of them. When you are speaking with the references, you should ask alot of questions. Were they on time? Did they leave the work area clean at the end of each day? Were they friendly, honest, and reliable?
7. How long have you been in your line of business?
This question will let you know their experience. You can ask some follow up questions like, "Who did you work for before starting your business?" This will also give you another reference that you can call. I established Scott's Painting Plus in the beginning of 2010 but my experience exceeds 15 years. I am a 2nd generation painter and apprenticed for my father's company since the mid 1990's.
8. Do you offer any discounts?
This question could be answered many different ways but it can't hurt trying to get a deal. I offer a Winter Discount that will end on March 15th. The work has to be booked by that date to receive the discount. For any work over $1500, there is a 10% discount on labor. For any work under $1500, there is a 5% discount on labor. I also offer discounts on entire exterior painting jobs. Call Scott today at (610)931-6707 and ask about the "Exterior Painting" deal.
9. What products do you use?
This question is mainly for painting and staining. I like to use Benjamin Moore products and Sherwin Williams products. If a contractor tells you that they like to use America's Finest, politely ask them to leave...lol.(it cost about $8/gallon)
10. How do you handle payment arrangements(do you take credit cards)?
Unfortunately, at this time, I do not take credit cards. I will ask for a deposit(usually 20% to cover the materials) so your project can be scheduled. I schedule jobs by first come first served. After the deposit, depending on the size of the job, it is either remaining balance paid upon completion of job or 2 payments(1 half way through the job and the other upon completion).
Usually you will be able to tell from the first impression if the contractor is the right one for your job. If you get the answers you are looking for to the questions above, you will be proud of the end result.