Seeking a Good Painter?
Ask friends or relatives for the name of a painter with whom they have been satisfied. This is by far your best lead.
Ask a paint store manager if there is a painter he can personally recommend. This is a bit tricky because stores rarely stand behind such a recommendation. Ask the store manager questions about the painter; you'll soon discover if the recommendation is well-founded.
If the painter has not been recommended
If the painter has not been recommended to you, be sure to ask for references… and call the references! You would be surprised how few people actually call the references provided.
Questions to ask references:
If in doubt, contact the Better Business Bureau (780-482-2341) and request a report. Reports are available 24 hours a day, are completely free and take only a minute. If the BBB says "no reports," this is good. It means they have a file on the contractor, but there have been no complaints. If the BBB says the contractor is unknown, this is not so good. It means the contractor may be a "fly-by-night."
When you get the estimate
When the painter gives you an estimate, ask that a full description of the work and the exact price be detailed in writing. If you have stipulations about the exact materials to be used, ask that they be written into the estimate. (Many painters might assure you that they use Benjamin Moore paint, but will then buy the cheapest line of Benjamin Moore paint.) Ask that such items as closets and the number of coats of paint be stipulated.
Who does the work.
There are a number of companies that act as "agents," charging a finder's fee to other people who come in to do the work. Often the person you see for an estimate is not the person who will do the work. Why does this matter? It puts and extra layer of difficulty between you and the company if there should be any problems.
If you have doubts, have the painter guarantee in writing that he will be the one performing the work.