Whenever my kids do something that inevitably leaves them in tears or me with a mess to clean up, I ask them a simple question, “Was that a good idea or a bad idea?”. The answer is generally “bad idea” and that little message hopefully gets stored in their memory bank for the next time. If you have ever gone through the process of getting estimates from contractors but shown the contractor the other prices you have received, you probably have experienced the same moment of clarity. In the end, you might have found yourself looking at a sequence of estimates that all seem to look pretty much the same.
Most of the advice out there is that it is a bad idea to let a contractor see other estimates and if the contractor himself asks to see them, consider it a red flag.
I disagree. I think it is absolutely okay to show a paint contractor the other estimates you got – with one big condition. He has already presented his estimate for painting. A good paint contractor can put together an estimate for painting without the benefit of seeing another contractor’s price. If he can’t, he shouldn’t be in business.
But once you have gotten your painting estimates and you are following up with the contractor you are considering hiring, sitting down with him to compare the estimates you have received can be a very good idea. Here’s why. You are not a painter. Isn’t that after all, why you are hiring a painter? And taking advantage of his expertise and understanding of the painting process can help you determine whether the estimates you have means you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges or apples to a bag of apple peels.
The different parts of a painting estimate including the prep work being done, the products being used, the number of coats being applied, the application process and the warranty can all make a big difference in the cost of painting your house or building and while all your estimates might be similar in price, they could vary wildly on the work being proposed. In the end, the same price might not equal the same amount of work or the same quality of products.