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The Million Dollar House and The Ten Dollar Paint Job

Posted by: Heidi Nyline

One of the things that drives me the most crazy in the painting industry is seeing subpar work. I especially hate it in new home construction. I would love to be able to call out all the companies that I come across that are so willing to set the bar so low in our industry.

Since I obviously can't do that, my next best solution is to educate homeowners and homebuyers so they can demand these builders and contractors pick up their socks and produce a decent quality product for the money they are charging.

Case in point is a house I saw yesterday in the new community of Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, about a half hour drive from downtown Vancouver. This brand new house is on the market for $928,000 plus tax, which by the time you get the keys is going to put you very close to this being a million dollar house.

Here is what caught my eye.

A big roller mark on support wall. How did the painter miss cleaning that up?

I had to take a closer look. Here are some photos I took of a just a few of the paint deficiencies I immediately noticed.

You know how I feel about paint where there shouldn't be paint. Paint on the concrete is not okay. This is bad.

Really? This is brutal.

Paint drips from the trim all over the siding. I mean all over.

It's bad enough that this trim has been faced off. It's worse that it has been done this badly.

Think I am being too picky? Check this out...

Paint on the shingles, overspray from a lousy masking job on the soffits.

Or this...

Starting to think the same thing I am?

Not a very nice cut line and there was paint all over the flashing.

I could go on. There are at least 20 more things I noticed right away. I never even walked around the back or side of the house.

All I could think of when I saw this paint job was "can you imagine what it looks like inside?"


If a builder is going to care so little about the exterior painting of a house he is building (something that everyone can see), how much does he care about the stuff that no one can see? I mean the stuff behind the walls. The stuff that a homebuyer has to trust has been done by a contractor that isn't sloppy, doesn't cut corners or do subpar work.

I mentioned above that I thought it was bad that the trim on this house was faced off instead of wrapped around. As far as I am concerned on a $928,000 home, the trim should be wrapped around. This was just another way that the painter cut corners.

You tell me, which one looks better?

Wrapped around painting on trim.

Trim that has been faced off - badly.

Painting is one of the visual finishing features of your home. It usually covers the most square footage of a house. Yet often it is a area where corners are cut and quality workmanship is lacking.

Here is some advice for homebuyers. Before you get all excited about the fancy chandelier, the media room, the gas range and the other finishings meant to capture your attention, take the time to walk around a house and inspect the paint job. It can tell you a lot about the quality of the home you are considering buying. If you don't like what you see, start asking questions or looking at other houses.

Posted by: Mike Hannigan
If that was the job done by the electrician.....your house would burn down! Lets make painting a TRADE again!


That is a great line Mike. Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by: Luis@Aztec
It's very unfortunate the lack of real skill painters that take pride in their work, sadly the busiest painters on new construction are of course the ones that don't care enough. I miss new construction a lot but since I've seen the standard most builders have set in this indutry I honestly had no other choice than to runaway as far as I could and find customers that do care. Everything is about taking pride in what you do, none of the guys doing this type of job take pride in themselves (the


Hi Luis, I appreciate your frustration and absolutely agree that part of the problem is the low standards that many builders will settle with in order to get it done at a low price. It is such a downward spriral when you have builders and contractors seeing how low the bottom can be. Hold to your guns Luis. Keeping your standards high is a slow but direct road to success.

Posted by: Ellen@Color Calling
Heidi, I always learn from your posts. I like to know the technical painterly terms like Cutting In, Level 5 Finish, and now you have just taught me, Faced Off, and Wrapped Around. That was certain poor-quality workmanship, but it is very instructive to have you show exactly what is wrong and how it should have been done correctly. Best, Ellen@Color Calling


Thanks so much Ellen.

Posted by: George Z
Go get them Heidi! It makes no sense that this will likely pass inspection. Basic PDCA standards would not allow it.


Hi George. Don't I wish that painting was part of the inspection process to get a final completed on a house. No such luck out here in the Wild West.

Posted by: Maria
Great post Heidi, sometimes there is no other way than to show ''what not to do'' to teach how it should be! Maria


Thanks Maria. It definitely provided me with lots of what not to do material.

Posted by: Kristie@thedecorologist
You call them out, Heidi! There is no excuse for poor quality work on a home with that asking price. Wish there were more painters like YOU.


Thanks Kristie. You are the best.

Posted by: nick dunse
Excellent article Heidi its so great to see a professional such as yourself who cares about our lively-hood. Sadly its all about the money and uninformed homeowners but I will link this article to my future sales calls... Two thumbs up! PS: I have always hated faced off trim!


Thanks Nick. I figure this is the only way to raise the bar in our industry. Educate the homeowner and homebuyer. So glad you agree with me on faced off trim. I hate it too, especially on expensive homes.

Posted by: Ryan Winchester
I'm sure that paint job is only the icing on the cake. That's about par for the course in most new construction in the Lower Mainland. Most of the new homes around where I live are $700-900k and if you go in one of the Open Houses you can be blown away by the nice materials that are installed terribly. Crappy trim work, out of level cabinets. wavy laminate. etc, etc.


I know Ryan. It is awful. There are very few single family home builders that I would feel comfortable working with, nevermind buying a home from.

Posted by: Lynne Whiteside
I've seen many crappy jobs in SF. Some clients don't even know that the job is bad! No matter how good a job the consultant does with the color you can spot a didn't give a shit paint job. It's pretty sad too, the painters have JOBS, they should be thankful. Painters are always available, just look whose standing outside the paint stores.


Hi Lynne, Unfortunately it happens everywhere. Part of it is driven by too low of pricing that results in low quality labour. The other part of the problem is the low barrier to entry in our industry. I am on the slow road to raising the bar in our industry where one day this will not be commonplace.

Posted by: Coby
O-M-G that is scary and horrendous. Also why I have no interest in ever doing new construction, unless someone is willing to pay for it to be done properly with the right materials.

Coby, it was awful. I would hate to be the real estate agent for that house.

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