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When to be Cautious!

Be cautious if the painter scribbles his estimate on the back of his business card, or gives only a verbal price. A contract cannot be properly defined on a business card. A verbal estimate is acceptable as a temporary measure, but must be detailed in writing before the contract is awarded.

Be cautious if the painter asks for a large deposit. Never pay a deposit of more than 20% of the total estimated price. Pay this only when the painter arrives to begin work, not in advance. (An exception to this rule might be if the painter supplies wallcoverings or an unusually expensive product.) Although it is reasonable to pay a painter progress payments based on the work that has been done, this should be in proportion to the work done.

Be cautious if the painter is cavalier about your concerns. If the painter sweeps aside your concerns even before commencing work, it's fair to expect the same (or worse) when the work has begun.

Be cautious if the painter seems hesitant to provide references. Painters who consistently satisfy customers will be pleased to offer the names of such customers and will encourage you to phone them.

Be cautious if the Better Business Bureau has no record of the contractor, or reports that his performance is unsatisfactory for any reason. The BBB does not charge a contractor for being listed in its files. If a contractor is not listed, it's a good time to ask, "Why does the BBB not know you are in business?"