Thorough preparation is essential to ensure a good finish. Contractors might have to fill cracks or holes and remove old paint if it is badly worn, peeling or flaking. They remove all paint and apply a suitable primer to the bare surface. If the existing paint is in reasonable condition, they clean it and rub it with abrasive material to provide a key for the new paint. On new surfaces, such as bare wood or fresh plaster, they apply a suitable seal, followed by a primer coat.
The BBB isn't a painter-specific group but rather an organization that is dedicated to ensuring that consumers can access information about anyone they do business with. The BBB also rates companies based on a Standards of Trust scale, which goes from A+ to F. A company doesn't have to be a member to get a grade, and it's a good idea to check to see how your contractor is scored as well as its membership status.
If you have ornamental or colorful trees, shrubbery or floral selections around your home you should figure their colors into the color scheme selection that is made.  These landscaping attributes will have an effect on how appealing the property is as a whole throughout the year.  Homes that have a great deal of trees can make the property darker and cast shadows onto the home.  Individuals will want to avoid darker colors for these situations.
Contracting is not conducted very often. Or, is it? What about your internet or television provider? How about a restaurant? Are we not contracting a service? Other than hunger, the attraction of the food or the ambiance – ask yourself, what inspired enough interest for you to check that particular restaurant out? Maybe it was word of mouth, good reviews, a good sanitation score, a clean atmosphere, the professional service, the quality of the food, maybe being close by or locally sourced food also helped? While you were considering all these factors – little did you know – you were qualifying and researching before you chose to give that particular restaurant your business. Most dinners cost under $50 per person. Why wouldn’t we take the additional steps needed to qualify our potential contractors for projects that typically cost much more??
Payment. Every client is different. Every job has it's own unique set of circumstances. I always start off the discussion with my clients saying that I'm flexible on how they would like to proceed with payments but that I prefer half down. I refuse to change order. Change orders are my last resort. Instead I ask questions at our initial meeting and try to be sure to cover all bases before I submit my estimate.

Dave, you said it best! Every pro painting contractor truly worth their salt would and should cut and paste exactly what you say here about where customary and legitimate practices and expectations should be in regards to what customers should expect from contractors and how contractors should professionally deal with their customers. By the way, Dave, if you work in the Atlanta area, I would like to hire you! Thank you for your valuable advice!
I did go with the highest bidder and it did not matter. They did a shoddy job and threatened to take me to court when I pointed out mistakes that they made based on their work standards stated on the quote. I have not paid them yet, just filed a complaint with the BBB. No money down asked, no contract signed. The boss stated I have to high of expectations just because I live in a 121 year old house!

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