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Scott Shaw Painting, Paradise, Chico, Butte County, CA
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Scott Shaw Painting, Paradise, Chico, Butte County, CA

Questions About Pricing Answered Honestly

Why does painting cost so much?
Recently, a number of factors have led to spiraling costs in the home-improvement / construction industry. Chief among them is insurance costs, both for contractor’s liability and for workman’s compensation. Gone are the days when a contractor could hire casual labor and not worry about lawsuits from injured workers or dissatisfied homeowners. These kinds of lawsuits (and in my opinion, rampant greed by insurance companies) have escalated the cost of these now required insurances to record levels.

In the residential painting industry, the going rate for workman’s comp is 40 to 45% of gross wages. For an employee earning $10.00 per hour, that’s an additional $4.50 per hour the employer must pay out of his pocket to the insurance company. And that’s only workers comp. In addition he must pay general liability and payroll taxes, making the true cost of that $10.00 per hour employee something like $20.00 to $25.00 per hour. And that’s before figuring in any other overhead, not to mention any profit.

There is supposed to be an insurance reform movement underway here in California, but so far all we've been paid is lip service and promises; no real reform (i.e. rate reductions). In the meantime, the scrupulous contractor who abides by the rules and protects himself and his customers with required insurance has no choice but to raise his rates and pass costs along to his clients.

I understand, but it still seems high. Anyone can paint, right?
Yes and no. While it is true that many of the tasks involved in residential repainting can be performed by unskilled labor, the second that labor is performed under the auspices of a legitimate licensed contractor, all the conditions discussed above apply. Also, a professional contractor seeks to hire stable, long-term employees who will be as conscientious in sanding wood trim as in spraying fine finishes. These employees deserve a decent wage. Isn’t quality workmanship performed by knowledgeable, conscientious craftsmen under the protection of an insured contractor the reason you called a licensed contractor in the first place?

Ok, but why is your bid higher (or lower) than the others I received?
A number of factors conspire to determine a contractor's bid, and these vary from contractor to contractor. Differing labor and overhead costs play a part in it, but for me the biggest difference is the amount of time (labor) I feel it takes to do quality work on any given job. Every contractor has his own idea about this, and it’s reflected in his bid price. Contractors who cut out prep steps or number of coats can charge a cheaper price. Contractors who hire minimally skilled labor can charge a cheaper price. All else being equal, it really just comes down to how each contractor figures his costs and what constitutes a reasonable profit. Many of my customers realize that they could have gone with a cheaper bid, but end up choosing my price because they know I will give them their money's worth and treat them and their property with the respect they deserve. That's my pledge.

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Scott Shaw Painting, Painting Contractors, Paradise, CA

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