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The Perils of House Painting: What do we tell Frank’s wife? Is he getting a fair deal? Or is he getting ripped off?

PaintcanFrank is in a pickle. He’s having his house painted and his wife thinks he’s getting fleeced. What do you think? Here’s Frank’s story:

"I’m having my house painted. It is a one-story stucco with 2,000 square feet of floor space with lots of fascia trim and tall, floor-to-ceiling windows with mullions and headers (about 13 feet high) with lots of overhangs and carport soffit (about 800 square feet). The fascia boards needed quite a bit of prep because of minor wood rot in one spot, termite damage in another and general peeling and some separation at chamfered corners. I had three estimates: One came in at $8,500, another at $9,000 and the third at $11,000. I went with the middle guy because he had just painted the house next door where he did a pretty good job. Also, the neighbor has used him in the past and has been happy with his service. He is using ICI Dulux elastomeric paint on the stucco and ICI Dulux Fortis Premium on the trim/highlights. He’s doing one coat of primer and two coats of finish paint. He is also stripping, staining and varnishing two exterior doors and doing a utility room interior that has extensive water damage to the ceiling. What happened is that a co-worker of my wife said she had had her house painted (allegedly larger that ours) for $5,000 and my wife thinks I’m giving our money away. I’m telling her I believe we’re getting good value for our money, but she’s not convinced. I don’t know how many coats of what kind of paint her friend got, but I think we’re paying a fair price for our project."

My opinion:

I think you’re doing the right thing, Frank. You’re hiring a company you can trust, whose work you can see right next door. That’s worth a lot! Every time you do anything, someone will rise up with a story about how they or their second cousin’s wife’s neighbor did it cheaper and faster. It’s an American pastime to outdo the next guy on getting a "deal." I don’t think that’s wise. Remember Earl Scheib who would paint cars for $29.95? What quality do you get? Why do we gauge houses at the price per square foot? Why not buy a car based on price per pound? That’s because we want quality.

A contractor’s opinion:

Based on your description of the work it does not seem that what you are charged is excessive. — Alon Toker

What’s your opinion? Is Frank getting ripped off? Or should his wife stand down?

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