questions and answers street signQ.  What is your pricing structure? How do you determine the price you will charge?

A. We in most cases use a “Time and Material” method. We have known many painters that have lost healthy sums of money due to rigid quotes. They do not leave room for things that crop up during the process, and in most cases there will be something that has not been accounted for. If this lost of income due to misquoting is allowed to continue, the contractors may soon find themselves out of business. This is common with large contractors that are involved with large projects. We will typically give an estimate of what we feel this price will be, but always leave room for unexpected issues that surface typically when we are into the work. The flexibility of this method is wonderful should the owner wish you to include work that has not been outlined on the original contract. The circumvents the need to have additional contracts. All that is needed is an addendum describing the work to be included. A “Change Order” as it’s called in the business. The pricing is the same as all other work. Time and material.

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If you’re the type of individual that will not consider a “Time & Material” method, then consider these possibilities.

EXAMPLE 1: Let’s say that a contractor has given you a quote to paint the exterior of your home. They look at it and don’t see anything wrong, so they give you a quote of $7,500 to – Wash, Prep, Prime, and apply 1-top coat. So part way into the process they find out that they not only underestimated the labor hours, but they underestimated the amount of paint they would need to do the job per the contract specs. What can happen is that the contractor will start to cut corners. Thinning the paint to make it stretch, rushing the workers which leads to sloppy work, not caulking areas that should be caulked, spot priming instead of full priming, spraying and not back-rolling or back-brushing, etc. This leads to inferior workmanship, which results in you having to repaint the house much earlier than necessary. We find evidence of this all the time.

SOLUTION: Using the “Time & Material” method, there is no need to cut corners. In fact, contractors are motivated to do more detailed work because they are being paid to do it. Painters are not being rushed and a good foreman will walk the site daily to ensure that quality workmanship is being met so that the price being charged is justified for the work that is being done.

EXAMPLE 2: While workers are up painting the soffits and fascia boards, (these basically are the boards that are under the gutters) they find that some soffits and fascia boards are rotted behind and need to be replaced. Most ethical contractors will bring this to your attention, and give you a quote to repair them, but they’re companies out there that do not have qualified carpenters on staff, so they will just paint over the soffits and fascia boards as to not delay the job. In addition they may not be qualified to give you a price to repair the damaged areas. This is sadly poor service to the customer.

SOLUTION: Using the “Time & Material” method, carpenters can be brought in to do the necessary work while compensation is determined for the service without loss to either the painting company or the carpenter. In fact the painting company can usually incorporate the service while still making a profit. This is the best solution for both the painting contractor, the homeowner, and promotes excellent relationships among tradesmen.

NOTE: I will say this however, “Ethics” play an important role with this payment arrangement. It is important for the homeowner, to “trust” the contractor. The foreman should review work performed daily, if possible, with the homeowner in addition to providing the homeowner with weekly reports that state the work that was done and the cost for that work. This way the homeowner can review the costs and work completed and determine if the charges are within reason.

I have based my reputation on fair and ethical practices and never allow workers to take advantage of this structure by working more slowly. The customer is not billed for breaks of any kind, and a detail of time spent on the job is given to the customer weekly and during each phase. i.e. prep phase, primer phase, topcoat phase, etc. This way the customer has something in writing which documents the charges for labor. click here  (we will be posting a sample of this document soon) to see an example of such a statement. It is for this reason I am proud to state; we have not had issues with such a payment structure.