As a coatings contractor for over fifteen years now, it is easy for me to spot someone experienced working with contractors and someone who is green. An experienced customer asks for lots of criteria that a green customer doesn’t know he should ask for. If your experience with contractors is limited, let me give you some good advice that will help you with your next project and make your experience much more enjoyable.
First is "the scope of the work". Do you have a detailed description of the work you want performed? Everyone likes to take us on walks and think on the fly, i.e. do this and do that but don’t worry about that. This allows for me to have an approximate idea of what you want done and is part of the process, but I still need a detailed written description of what you want done. If you don’t write it down for me, I have to write it down and I know you really haven’t thought through what you want done. What we will perform is a scope of work, but that may not make it an "apples to apples" comparison.
Second is the time it will take to complete. Do you have an idea of how long the job will take or do you want me to give you an anticipated number of days or hours to complete the project? Obviously, if you need a job done quickly, I can throw more men on it but it usually costs more in the long run than just letting me put a smaller group on it because smaller groups work more efficiently. The shorter the time, the greater the inefficiency. I can still get it done, but it costs me more and I am going to pass that on. Remember that when you schedule.
Third, is valid experience. Do you know if the company you are hiring has the experience to handle your job? Any painting contractor who has been in the coatings business should have a list of completed projects to show you if you ask. Don’t feel like it is an imposition to ask a contractor for references and a copy of his business license. The painting industry is rife with individuals who have done a lot of house painting without a valid license and are not qualified to do specialty coatings. These individuals cannot stand on their work and so they just keep moving to new customers who don’t ask any questions. A qualified contractor is happy to show you his license, his liability insurance and a list of satisfied customers that will vouch for his work. If someone promises you this but doesn’t deliver, don’t hire them.
Lastly, tell your contractor how and when he is going to be paid. A typical arrangement will entail some upfront money, etc,