The painting contracting industry is an important part of the construction and real estate industry that facility managers and property owners can’t do without. Because of this, many unscrupulous entities masquerade as legitimate painting contractors to rip off unsuspecting building owners. How can facility managers protect themselves from these rip-off artists? Often it is as easy as just asking the right questions and getting the right answers.

The right questions can be asked during interview, or as part of written requirements that need to be submitted, or casually posed to the painting contractor during meetings.

1. “WHERE are your legal business documents?”

Business papers and other pertinent legal documents such as contractor’s and business licenses, W-9, and insurance certificates are just some of the documents that a legitimate painting contractor can easily provide the facility manager with. It is part of the contractor’s portfolio. Facility managers can use these documents to verify the authenticity of the contractor’s business operations.

2. “WHO can you cite as references of your past works?”

A legitimate painting contractor should have no problem providing a list of references of previous work completed. Many professional contractors will normally include referrals from previous clients, particularly of past projects that were successfully done. Painting companies are proud of client referrals and testimonies. They know that the bigger the client or the project that they have worked with in the past, the better chances of impressing prospective ones and getting the next jobs.

When the facility manager has obtained a reference from the prospective painting contractor, the next step is to contact these clients and acquire information about their experience in working with the said contractor. 

3. “HOW do you plan to do the job?”

The painting contractor should be able to provide job details as part of the hiring process. Their plan should be clear on activities, tasks and time lines. Their proposals will tell facility managers whether or not they are capable of doing the job or just simply promising the moon to get hired. 

4. “WHY is your price this much or this little?”

An experienced painting contractor will not quote a project price that is either too high or too low, only a fair and actual estimate of project costs. A contractor that quotes too high is potentially out to rip-off the project, or is simple an amateur with no knowledge of correct pricing.

How to tell if the project estimates being put forward are too high or too low? By comparing it with the pricing estimates from other contractors. If the pricing is off, ask the questionable contractor for the reason behind the pricing. 

5. “CAN you provide a work warranty?”

A written warranty of the work should be provided by the painting contractor. This is to assure the facility manager that the contractor can remedy or replace any fault or problem that occurs after project completion. The warranty period and scope of post-project work should be specified clearly in the warranty. 

Getting as much information out of bidding contractors gives the facility manager a basis in decision-making. The legitimate painting contractor will not shy away from transparency in their answers.

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