What's A Good Painting Estimate?

We do a lot of estimates here at Great Plains.  This year, we completed over 500 estimates with homeowners.  Since we started this company, that’s been thousands of estimates completed.  We’re always refining the estimate process as there are changes in our industry or we notice homeowners are dealing with a particular concern.  So what does a good painting estimate include?  What should the estimate address so you as a homeowner know what you want is being completed?  Hopefully this will help give you an idea.

The Estimate Should Be In Person

If a homeowner has specific needs and wants about what’s being completed on their home and they’re not there, how are we as a painting company going to know what they want?  We believe that for the best painting estimate, all homeowners are present with the estimator.  This way, the estimator can ask questions, get clarification on the scope of the work, and address needs the homeowner has.  We tell all potential customers that if they aren’t there, we have to make assumptions about the painting / wood rot repair and those assumptions may not necessarily line up exactly with what they want.

Basically, if a homeowner is there in person, we can find out exactly how they want their house painted.  Also, homeowners know their homes well and can point out areas of specific concern so we can recommend solutions and agree on a course of action to address the concerns.  You as a homeowner will get a more accurate scope of work if you’re there.

The Estimate Should Be Clearly Written on a Contract

We use a 3 part carbon copy contract that we custom design ourselves.  This doesn’t haven’t to be the way it’s done, an estimate can be typed or even hand written.  But if a painter gives you a quote verbally, through a text message, or a price written on the back of a business card (seen it) that should be a red flag.  If problems arise, what does the homeowner have to fall back on to say, “this is what we agreed you are doing for this price”?

A contract should include at a minimum the following items:

  • how many colors are included
  • what sheen of paint
  • what type of paint
  • what’s being painted
  • what color is going where
  • wood rot repairs (if any)
  • base price
  • upgrade options (if any)

We designed and honed our contract sheet over thousands of estimates to include what is necessary to clearly state exactly what the scope of work is on each home.  It includes what prep we are doing, paint type and sheen, customizations area, itemized wood rot repair, upgrade options, and price.  Without a detailed, clearly written document of what you get for what you pay, how will you as a homeowner really know what you’re getting?  Make sure any estimate you get is more detailed than a price in a text message.

Itemized Wood Rot Repair

We list each wood rot repair item separately so homeowners can see exactly what’s being replaced and what the price is per item.  Again, if the wood rot is just a lump sum price on a piece of paper, how can you be sure everything is included?  Our price includes procuring the material required and performing the work.  We’ve seen some companies include labor only for wood rot, and state that they’ll turn in receipts when they’re finished to be reimbursed for the cost of materials.  This makes the wood rot price look cheaper up front, but means you’ll be hit with an unknown additional cost at the end.

If a company provides you with a lump sum price for wood rot, you are free to ask them to itemize it.  It may be a good practice to see if they even can.  If they can’t, that should be a red flag that perhaps they don’t even really know what they’re including and are shooting from the hip on pricing.

Certificate of Insurance

If you are looking to hire a professional painting company, they can and will produce a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from their insurance provider.  Our is included in our bid package for every painting estimate.  This COI will show you what type of insurance the company carries.  There are two types that are most important:

  1. General Liability - this covers against damage to your home or property
  2. Workers Compensation - this covers against someone getting injured on your property

Every contractor should have General Liability.  It’s reasonable to purchase and responsible to have.  When you check for workers compensation you’ll notice definitely not every painting contractor will have this.  Workers Comp is expensive to carry, so a lot of painters simply don’t do it.  The risk to you as a homeowner then, is if that painters employee gets hurt on your property, they could try to get coverage via your homeowners insurance for their injuries.

Bid Package

Great companies represent themselves well and want to showcase that they know their industry, are proud of their work, and have all the proper credentials to be hired by you.  Usually they’ll compile this information into what we call a bid package.  Ours is a folder that we designed and have professionally printed.  It includes all the information above, and some other things.  We put reviews, product info, pictures of our team, and before and after photos into our bid package.  It’s in a nice folder so you can keep everything all together as you’re reviewing companies and making decisions.

Professional Estimates

It boils down to what level of risk are you willing to tolerate as a homeowner.  The guy who writes a price on the back of a business card or texts you a number for the work may do a fine job.  But it’s risky and if things don’t go well, one or both of you are going to get burned.  You can still get burned by a seemingly professional contractor too, but the odds are much lower.  Especially if you make sure you’ve received everything mentioned above.

Even as professionals here at Great Plains, we still make mistakes from time to time.  Unlike the guy in the truck who will likely just take off and leave a mess, we aim to uphold our reputation and pride ourselves on fixing errors we make and so will any professional company that cares about the customer you hire.

If you’re looking for a professional painting job in Kansas City, contact Great Plains Painting today for a free estimate!