Many estimates "bottom line" the price, but lack specific details that assure you of a quality job and a fair price. Ravenswood Restoration believes that a proper estimate should always contain the following six things:


What kind of paint or other products will be used?

The brand, grade, and sheen should be specified. Paint comes in many types, from cheap and unreliable to very expensive and making all kinds of claims about performance. A professional painter will be familiar with many brands and grades of paint. Over time the products that work best stand out. Make sure the painter tells you about the product(s) that will be used and how they have performed in the past. If you can't get a clear answer or explanation, there is reason the painter does not want you to know. The painter either does not know enough about the profession; or, quite commonly, intends to charge you for premium paint and use the cheap stuff to beef up their bottom line. If special products are necessary, they should be discussed and understood up front.


How many coats will be applied?

Ravenswood Restoration had a customer last year who received an estimate from a competitor. When asked if the other contractor had specified the number of coats, the customer said the contractor's reply was, "Enough to to the job." If that sounds like a bad answer, it is. Two coats is standard. Reds, yellows, oranges and some greens can mean three coats, because these colors tend to be more transparent, most notoriously red.

A professional painter knows that it takes two coats to do the job right, and if a special color requires a third top coat or special extra primer coat, that should be clear from the outset.


How many square feet does the painter expect to cover?

Not every painter provides this information, but it is helpful when looking at your budget for the job. If one painter is bidding on 800 square feet for your job, and another says 1000, someone is not measuring right, and is likely not charging the proper price for the job. Knowing he number of square feet makes it clear what the costs are associated with the job, both in materials and labor. And, of course, you can always measure yourself to verify that the painter is correct.

The amount of coverage per gallon of paint varies, and the amount of labor time per square foot is related to the type of paint being used as well as the amount of detailed trim work, color changes, and prep work such as moving and protecting furniture. But, the square footage gives the customer more information rather than less, and is helpful in understanding what you are paying for.


Is trim included?

You may be getting an attractively low estimate, but find out later that trim work was not discussed and therefore not included. Fresh, clean walls and grubby looking doorjambs and baseboards is not a good result of investing in a paint job. There are also times where the trim is in excellent shape and does not need to be worked on, or just needs a one coat "refresher." This is one of the rare occasions when one coat will do the job and save money. Make sure you discuss all trim work with any painter and that what is and isn't included is absolutely clear.

Many painters bid low, then make up for it with "extras" as the job goes on.


How long will the job take?

This is self explanatory. It is good to know. Once a start date is agreed upon, how long will your life potentially be disrupted? As far as disruption, Ravenswood Restorations strives to keep it to a minimum. But, furniture moved and covered and the smell of paint is something you don't want to live with for very long. Make sure the time frame is reasonable.


Is the price fair?

Carefully consider all the information that is being provided in the estimate. Does it cover everything you want to accomplish? Are you comfortable with the level of detail? Will the service provider answer any questions you have? The lowest price can usually be eliminated, and you may be apprehensive about higher priced estimates. But, the service provider knows what his or her work is worth.

Fairness means good value for money spent, not just getting a "bargain" price. Quality often means "you get what you pay for."

After receiving your Ravenswood Restoration estimate, ALWAYS feel free to ask for clarification of any of the above items, or any other aspect of the estimate that sparks a question.