What points should be in an agreement with a painting contractor or company?

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Having your house painted and don’t know if the contract your painter handed you has you covered? Don’t worry! Below is a list of key points that should be included in the agreement you'll both sign. It should cover every facet of the job, from the exact work to be performed to the payment terms to the warranty on the work.

Painting Contract Points

  •  Information on both parties:

Included should be your full name and address and the name, address and principal of the painting company, including their license and/or registration, depending on what your county and/or state mandates.

  • A detailed description of the work to be performed:

This is a very specific summary of the services you're contracting for, from scope of the job to a description of the paint being used, right down to the brand, color, and finish—and any special notes such as a preference for VOC paint, for instance.

  • The scheduled dates for the painting:

This includes both the start and completion dates of the project. Add contingencies in case those dates aren't met. For example, if the job is not completed on the contracted end-date, both parties might agree that the painter will credit money until the job is done; if the painter fails to complete the job by a second completion date, you might have a clause saying you'll cancel the agreement and hire another painting company to finish the job.

  • Responsibilities:

This spells out each party's responsibilities. For example, the painter may be responsible for all rental equipment, waste disposal, storage, material and tools used to complete the job as well as any permits needed. You might be responsible for clearing all items from rooms to be painted.

  • Payment and terms:

This should include both the painter's complete fee, with expenses, for doing the job and a schedule for payment. This might include a set amount upfront for buying paint. Depending on the scope of the job, you might pay in installments. All line items, from discounts to fixed costs, must be stated. You should reserve a final payment that's due only upon completion—when the job is fully done and the work area is cleaned up.

  • Insurance coverage and warranty:
Insurance from the painter is essential in case of an accident or construction damages during the project so that your homeowner's policy won't have to cover any injury the painter might sustain or repairs needed to your home. Your painter must carry comprehensive worker's compensation, general liability insurance ($1,000,000,000 per occurrence is excellent coverage--state mandated minimums may not be enough coverage) and commercial vehicle insurance. Ask to see a copy of insurance certificates before work starts.

A painter should be willing to warrant that their labor and the materials (specifically the paint they use) will last for a certain amount of years; this can vary widely, from 1 to 10 years. While the paint itself might come with a warranty that's 20 or more years long, dealing with the manufacturer can be difficult for a homeowner. You want a painter who will come out and fix any problems with the paint at no additional cost. 

  • Confidentiality:

Your contract should state that any information in the contract will not be disclosed and will remain protected. Make and keep a copy of the contract and all paperwork related to the job in your permanent house folder just in case problems occur during—or after—the project.

Having this contract is important so that all aspects of the job are covered. Once these points have been clearly communicated, you’re all set to do business with your painter and feel confident that you'll have a successful working relationship.

The dining room, above, illustrates the exquisite drama of a perfect paint job. Featured are the BEHR colors: Daah-ling (T13-1) on the upper walls, Empire Porcelain (T13-2) on the wainscotting, Black Lacquer (T13-3) on the trim and accents of Golden Age (T13-4) and Belladonna (T13-5). To see how your rooms will look with a fresh color and coat of paint, check out the "Paint Your Place" visualization tool at www.behr.com.