The Interior Painting Estimate – What Should it Include?
In terms of painting quotes, I have seen everything from a scribbled number on the back of a napkin to a four-page detailed estimate with enough small print to make you cross-eyed.
What information do you reasonably need to see on an interior painting estimate?
I’ll start with the most obvious.
It needs to be in writing and it needs to be after the paint contractor has seen the job.
I get calls all the time from customers that want a price for the painting of their condo, over the phone. I think many people assume that all painting is the same and there is a flat square foot rate for painting. I spend a lot of time explaining to callers that while I can give them a ballpark figure, we need to actually see the job to give them an accurate estimate.
Here are some of the things a paint contractor is considering when he is preparing an interior painting estimate: the condition of the walls; any damage or repairs that need to be addressed; the square footage of the walls; the height of the ceilings; whether he will be painting over dark colours or painting with dark colours; the number of colours being used; whether trim, ceilings, closets or crown moulding will be included; the number of doors and windows in a room; the shape of the room; how much furniture and window coverings need to be moved to paint the room. Are you starting to see why this can’t be done over the phone and without seeing the space?
You’ve have had three paint contractors meet with you and take a look at your painting project. Now what?
If you have only been given a verbal price ask the contractor to follow up in writing. You need more information than just the price to make an informed decision on which painter to hire. Verbal price commitments leave you open to hidden extras and surprises.
What information should the actual estimate include? Here is my list:
The paint contractor’s contact details
Company name, address, telephone number, website, etc. If all you have is a guy’s name and his cell phone number how are you going to track him down if he doesn’t show up to do the work after taking a deposit.
The paint contractor’s business details
You should ask for a contractor’s WorkSafeBC number and GST number in particular. It is your responsibility to ensure that any contractor you hire has proper worker’s compensation and insurance coverage. We carry $5 million in liability coverage and keep a copy of our certificate of insurance with us to show a customer when we meet them.
The scope of the project
This should include the areas to be painted, details of the prep to be done before painting and the application process (how many coats to be applied?). Depending on the size of the job this could be a very detailed and large part of the estimate.
The paint specifications
What paint and products are going to be used? This is a big deal because the type of paint being used will have a direct impact on the price of the job. I wrote an entire article on this subject, which you can read here. If the estimate doesn’t include the paint specs, get another estimate.
Start dates and completion dates
If you have your daughter’s wedding this summer in your backyard, you don’t want a partially painted living room on the big day.
Total cost including taxes. Do not accept an hourly cost with an estimate of time. I guarantee it will take the entire estimated time or longer. The only parts of the estimate that should include an hourly rate are extras that might be added on during the job (which should be agreed upon before proceeding) and carpentry work such as replacing wood rot that can not be assessed until the project is underway. Again, clear terms of acceptance of extra work during the project need to be agreed on before the project starts.
Terms and conditions
Payment terms should be clear and easy to understand. Many smaller paint contractors will require a deposit before starting work. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you are not paying it in cash and that is isn’t for more than 25% of the total amount of the contract. More established businesses, such as ours require payment upon completion and inspection of the job. If it is a large job, there might be terms for draws after certain stages of completion of the project. This is perfectly acceptable, but make sure the terms are clear.
Some estimates will include legal waivers, detailed terms and conditions, warranty information and other information, or as it is commonly called – fine print. The bigger the job, the more important this information is.
For us, when we are providing a customer with an estimate for the interior painting of their home, we keep our estimates to pretty much the information I outlined above. Most of the time it can fit on one page, but it always provides our customers with enough details to fairly compare estimates and fully understand the scope of the work we will do.