If you're going to do any part of the painting or prep work on your own, you must know that the first step in preparing a surface is washing it. Since dirt can affect the smoothness of a surface area -- and therefore paint's adhesion to it -- use soap to remove any dirt or stains. Make sure there's no soap left on the walls when you're finished; also make sure to remove any gloss with sandpaper and vacuum up the leftover dust.
With that said, here's the reality of that particular scenario. Painters do put water in the paint, but not for reasons you would think. Some materials need to have their viscosity manipulated in order to slow drying time, allowing gravity to 'smooth' out the product for a better finish. It also prevents 'drags' and 'sausages'. I personally try not to do it too often, but from time to time I have to. I want my client to have a proper finish.
There are cases where apartment complexes allow you to choose from a color wheel of neutral hues before you move in. Some charge a fee for calling in a painter to do the walls, while others offer new paint as a benefit of moving in. If you're not a fan of neutral colors, consider looking for an apartment that allows you to paint the walls a more expressive tone. Otherwise you can invest in boldly colored furniture and posters.
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.
Unless you like textured walls, don't paint over dust. Wash the walls with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a mild cleaner, like Jasco's TSP No-Rinse Substitute. For smoke-stained walls, Toto uses a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. To clean a wall, use two buckets. Load up your rag or sponge from your cleaning-solution bucket, and scrub. Before redipping, rinse the sponge in a second bucket filled with clean water. 

Homeowners with wood siding have the option of staining or painting siding that has been worn down by the elements -- especially if they need to increase its defenses against the sun or extreme humidity. Holes, missing pieces or other problems will increase the overall cost of the painting project. You can expect to pay between $700 (~250 sq. ft.) and $2,000 (~1,000 sq. ft.) to paint wood siding, but this project will also help to protect the home's exterior from more extensive repairs down the road.
So sad that Angie's List requires the contractor be notified!! They have lost me as a client. If I'm dissatisfied and want to give an "F" rating (question/workers...I SHOULD NOT be intimidated into passing up an opportunity to explain my experience! There is NO WAY my contractor got an Aplus rating from over five hundred people....so someone was lying....yet I can't report that without the contractor knowing it? REALLY?
Prep. For new work the painter accepts the finish done by the drywall or plaster and once he accepts the work and starts painting he owns any wall repairs. Existing work is a different thing. I take a high intensity light and circle the kinds of defects with chalk so we are all in agreement before they start. Sometimes this results in a higher price and we have to compromise on how much to do...
Your home is your most important asset and maintaining it is vital in upholding and increasing its value. As a full-service painting company, Home Works Painting will provide you with a superior professional painting experience. Our services include interior/exterior painting, drywall repair/installation, wood replacement, pressure washing, and color consulting. We stand behind our work by offering a six year warranty.
If a company has a formal training program, it’s a safe bet that they have their act together. They can do training in-house through regular meetings of their employees.  They can have field training systems in place, usually coordinated with classroom training sessions.  They can also use trade associations, such as PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America) or paint manufacturer’s representatives to stay up to date with the latest materials and techniques. 
I agree with Jeff below, these prices are far below what I see on the market in the Portland Or. area. When one uses the term "paint the house" what exactly does one mean? Any fool can buy an airless paint sprayer and put paint on a house. New homes built with fiber cement siding paint clean and easily but older homes built with wood require much prep work.
A number of factors help determine when you should paint your home’s exterior. These include your local climate and weather conditions, the age of your home, and the type of siding used. A high-quality finish in ideal conditions could last 10 years. But if your home takes a beating from the elements, you may need to repaint as often as every three years. Most homes can be on a 5-8 year interval. If you’re not sure if your house is due for a refresher, watch out for signs of deteriorating paint, such as fading and chipping.
You can count on Tru Colors Contracting to be a commercial paint contractor that gets the job done. We can paint the exterior of any building, including your hotel, shopping center, hospital, high-rise, mid-rise, and industrial building. You can trust that the paint job we provide for you will be of the highest quality you can find. Whether we're painting the outside or inside of your commercial building, we will use quality paint that looks beautiful and lasts a long time in any condition. We will be sure to come up with a detailed plan from start to finish to ensure the job is completed on time and within your budget.
The article and comments were great information to have before deciding how to go about getting a painting job done. I think the important point is that there are several key choices (who to do the work; color, sheen, quality, of paint; how many coats; amount of prep/repairs to be done and by whom, how long the job will take, provisions for changes, how detailed the contract needs to be; advanced deposit/progress payments/final payment; final inspection, etc.) that need to be made and it requires advanced research and planning in order to become well enough informed to make the right choices. Then it requires spending sufficient time to check materials and inspect the quality of the work while it is on-going, raher than waiting to do it all at the end. President Reagan's philosophy of "Trust, but verify." applies.
I am in northern Nevada and you have not yet gotten sufficient responses to provide a painting cost chart showing the averages.  I do have a quote from an outside (Not Homeadvisor referral) painter who is local for $2,750 for soffits, patio cover and posts, Garage facia (redwood clapboard above (~300 ? Sq. Ft.) on a 2046 Sq. Ft. home where the walls are 9 ft tall and it is fully stuccoed with plastic stucco surfaces, so not being painted.  

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