Painting Contractors: Problem-Solving Strategies
If only bringing a painting contractor into a facility were as easy as accepting a bid and turning over the project. In most cases, it's not. So before the bid goes out or the first discussion takes place, contractors recommend that managers make some important decisions and gather essential information.
First, they must determine exactly what the project will entail.
"One big challenges is appropriate scope," Moore says. "If the job isn't well-defined, it's difficult to get it completed because you have different people in the facility with different visions of what's being done."
Next, managers need to help contractors understand the way the project will unfold.
"They also should ask about the level of management they're going to get," Scaturro says. "Are they going to have a dedicated project manager or site supervisor ensuring the quality of the project? What level of communication is going to be expected?
"The other big thing is the schedule. What can (managers) expect as far as when (the contractors) are going to show up and leave every day, how many men are going to be on site, when is this project going to be completed?" Then there is the issue of cost.
"If you see variance in price, you've got to dig a little bit," Moore says. "You can't just accept that the guy who bid $100,000 is going to do that job for $100,000 because you're opening yourself up to a lot of change orders. I would do more research and figure out what makes that the low bid. Is there a specification in the contract that allows them to be the low bid?"
Moore's warnings about cost considerations spill over into the all-important issue of paints and coatings specification. A department will have to live with the contractor's work long after a job is complete, so managers should be especially attentive to the issue of paint selection in the contract.
"Are (contractors) specifying the cheapest paint that is filled with extenders (and) that are really cheap to produce but compromise quality once on the surface?," Moore asks. "Are they specifying that they're only going to do one coat instead of two coats, or are they saying 'Paint to cover'? Guys that say, 'Paint to cover' in the contract usually will charge you more, but you know that's the limit of your exposure. They're going to make it cover, no matter what."
Contractors involved in paint selection also have to take into consideration the viewpoints of a number of different parties.
"Sometimes, (managers) have a preconceived notion of what coatings and what manufacturers are better," Scaturro says. "And on some occasions, especially on larger projects, maybe where there are multiple trades involved or we're working under a general contractor, there is an architect or engineer that has put together a detailed spec ahead of time that I am to follow."
Moore suggests managers come to discussions of paint specification with clear thoughts on products and processes.
"In terms of quality, managers should know what they're looking for," he says. "We have industry standards, so there are levels of standard preparation. That's stuff that should be brought up by the contractor at the time of the estimate." Such conversations with painting contractors can go a long way in helping managers assess the experience and professionalism a contractor might bring to the project.
"Contractors are not all the same," Moore says. "Just because I can put together a bid doesn't mean I can do the job. The misconception is that it will get done on time and on budget. That stuff needs to be written into the contracts that you sign. Otherwise, what can happen is, these jobs run out of sequence and all of a sudden it's this mad rush at the end, and the pressure gets put on the painter. "