The article and comments were great information to have before deciding how to go about getting a painting job done. I think the important point is that there are several key choices (who to do the work; color, sheen, quality, of paint; how many coats; amount of prep/repairs to be done and by whom, how long the job will take, provisions for changes, how detailed the contract needs to be; advanced deposit/progress payments/final payment; final inspection, etc.) that need to be made and it requires advanced research and planning in order to become well enough informed to make the right choices. Then it requires spending sufficient time to check materials and inspect the quality of the work while it is on-going, raher than waiting to do it all at the end. President Reagan's philosophy of "Trust, but verify." applies.
Estimate: Short and sweet, but HIGHLY accurate. We wanted to use our own paint as there was a particular no VOC kind I wanted to use, and this was never an issue for them. They knew exactly how much we needed for the job based on the specs from the website of the company we were ordering it from, so we could order it without issue. The estimate was right inline with two other companies we received quotes from.
Home Works Painting is licensed (Virginia Class A #2705-153298) and insured (Workman’s Comp and General Liability), and has been servicing Northern Virginia since 2005. We pride ourselves on delivering a first class job with exceptional service. Home Works Painting has been selected as Northern Virginia’s Best Pick for painters for the past seven years, and is a member of Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA).
I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
Picking exterior house paint colors is a lot different than picking a color for a shirt or a car. It may help to drive around to observe colors that other homeowners have combined on homes that are of similar size and design as yours. There are also online resources that provide homeowners with the ability to create virtual makeovers of their home by combining colors together through their software programs as well.
I do not mean to come off with an edge, however, this is an article for people hiring low bid, uninsured, one man band painters out to "hustle" a buck. Hire reputable, established companies or hire someone you know or have a strong referral from. If you are arguing over watered down paint, ticky, tacky deposits, buying your own supplies, you have hired the wrong guy.
My wife and I just painted the interior of our house with about 6-8 gallons, of $30+ per gallon (meaning the good stuff, non-diluted) with absolutely fantastic results. However we just paid an average of $5 per gallon. Reason...all big box stores have paint, set aside, that has been mixed but not picked up by the customer. They need to sell it quick and if you're not in a hurry (you know well in advance that a room or two need painting and it's not like the roof leaking and needs an immediate fix) you can go to each store when you need other supplies or food, like Walmart (when convenient, driving 20 miles to each is not worth it) and over the course of a month or two, pick out some very nice colors of quality paint. We found perfect colors...not saying they were our first choice but when we opened the can, very nice and some even better than our original picks. Cost to paint the entire house was about $100, with all materials included, period. We had it on the market for a few months to sell, didn't sell, painted the rooms, got 2 offers the day after we finished, took the best one and never looked back.