A fellow (actually lives in the same neighborhood) by the name of Wayne Hickey (843-655-0366) painted the ceilings and most of the walls of our house in February 2017. He got paint all over my light fixtures, all over my trim around the doors, and had visible lap marks everywhere on the walls. He came back and rectified some of the problems, but not all, as I have noticed as I have had time to look more carefully at the work he and his assistant did. His assistant had no idea (not a clue) how to roll paint on a wall or ceiling. Some places were not covered. He said he would pull nails for pictures and then re-insert the nails exactly where they were. This he did not do as he promised. He painted over the nails. His assistant had no idea how to use a paint roller. I have painted all my life, and would have done this work myself, but I just had a full knee replacement and the other knee is in bad shape. I just could not do the work. Wayne is a pleasant and congenial individual, but he can not cut in a ceiling or wall to my satisfaction - not even close. He should have a putty knife and wet cloth with him all the time to correct any paint that might get applied where it shouldn't. That is something I always did as a painter. I would not recommend Wayne to paint anybody's home.
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Some proposals simply say to paint the walls and ceiling and never specify the number of coats to be applied. If the colors are similar enough, it's possible to get away with one coat of paint and not discount your pricing. No matter how hard you try, tiny, pin-sized air holes will pop exposing the original walls. This may not bother you if you can't notice it, but principally speaking you should have paid your painter less for the work.
This painter Scot never came and finished the job. Texted me at 6:30 in the morning saying that he isn't able to do the job I gave him. I would not recommend this painter to anyone. I will make sure everyone I know won't use this guy. He is the worse business owner I have ever met. I don't know how he is in business. Be very careful of this guy Scot. Don't trust him and don't pay him for anything for any work.
I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
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Buying a can of premium paint, then bait and switch over to low-line products? Again, complete nonsense. Think about it for a moment; the Painter needs 5 gallons of wall finish. So, he buys one can of premium and the rest 'cheap'? How is he going to hide the 4 other gallons? What's he going to hide it in??? He only has ONE gallon of premium. It's not as though he's going to keep older can labels, they would be covered in paint of a different colour.