How To Ensure You Can Find A Painting Contractor That You Can Trust


Where do you start when you are wanting to look for a painting contractor? Is it yellow pages? (does anyone still even look in there anymore?!) Is it your local Facebook community page? Is it recommendations from neighbours? Or friends and family?

The whole process is quite stressful!!

I joined Paint it Perfect a few years ago from a totally different industry so came into this business with what I call “fresh eyes” and have come from the angle of what a potential customer, with little or no expertise in the painting world might experience as part of the quoting journey.

I am by no means an expert now, but I am so much more aware and appreciate the process that is involved in painting and can 100% say not all painting contractors are created equal !! but how can you protect yourself and make sure you are choosing one of the good ones?

I created a few tips that can guide you through this process so that you are educated in your decision because the old saying is totally true….” you don’t know, what you don’t know!” so I hope this info really helps you!!

How to choose the right contractor BEFORE they come to the site and you get a quote

Do they have a website?

This sounds like an obvious one but it is actually a really good start. By checking their website you can get a feel for who they are as a business and view previous projects. Is the website updated? Are the projects recent? Let’s be honest, it actually doesn’t cost that much to pay for a professional to do a basic website to put your business out there. It shows that you are wanting to be taken seriously and aren’t potentially a fly by night person who can just disappear into oblivion should a job not go right.

Are they affiliated with reputable agencies?

When I talk about reputable agencies I am meaning associations that are connected with painting or trades. For example, Resene has a programme called Resene Eco decorators – it’s what you would call an elite group of painters that Resene invite because they have business practises to a higher standard than the average painter – they do yearly audits from the process of quotes, invoices to customer resolutions so they really want to make sure they have the best of the best to represent them. Masterpainters is another good organisation as it is the national representative body for the painting industry. What does that mean? Well in a nutshell, painters pay an annual subscription and they too have to abide by a painting ethos.

  • Master Painters provide quality workmanship and professional service
  • Master Painter members use qualified trade painters with proven track records
  • Master Painters provide professional advice and support if you need it
  • Your chosen painter will carry out the work in a professional manner
  • Your chosen painter will, to the best of their ability, adhere to current environmental requirements
  • Your chosen contractor will abide by the Association’s code of conduct
  • Master Painters are people who really care about customer satisfaction and the end result

To be honest, painters can fall into the following scenario, they are affiliated with a brand – like Resene eco decorator, or they are a master painter or they are both – any of these are a good thing. To be none of these? Well…… don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict would go wrong without having another agency you can at least go to if you are unhappy with the service you were provided.

Do they have public liability insurance?

Ok, so a big assumption out there in the non tradie world is that everyone is insured. Ummmmmmmm big assumption and its not always the case!! – I even have a friend who went and got a “cashie” done with a house painter because “they were the cheapest” and they cracked a heap of her villa windows. And guess what? No insurance so she had to do it on her home and contents. When I asked her why she didn’t ask, she said “I thought he would be insured” she then also said she wished she had paid more for our quote. This is a huge red flag if someone is not insured. And don’t be afraid to ask! You have every right to know! Your home is your castle and you need to know that it will be looked after in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong – which it can. It’s a true professional that has the ability to manage the problem and fix it and for that, a painting contractor needs to be insured.

Do they have references?

References are important – there are a few ways you can get them these days – google reviews (but not everyone has a google account so may prefer to give feedback in other ways), or personal reviews on their websites. One of the better ones for tradespeople is No Cowboys ( , which is like a trip advisor for tradies. You have to pay to subscribe to No Cowboys so I always think that’s a good sign too – if an owner is willing to invest in their company’s reputation then that is a good sign they are a professional tradesperson. Make sure you read them and make your own call on how they are as a company. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a verbal reference if you want as well. Some customers are happier to give a verbal than a written and that’s all good too.

How long have they been in business? What’s their experience in your project?

This can be a borderline question because everybody has to start somewhere but if someone has 20 years of experience over 2 years’ experience – it would be good to take things like that into consideration when making your decision. I wouldn’t call it a deal-breaker? But there a lot of people that put a brush in their hand and call themselves a house painter. It’s a craft that takes years of experience. Its also good to find out if they have experience in what you are wanting to get done. Websites can show this from previous projects or you can just do it the good old-fashioned way and ask before they come to quote you.

Site Visits

Once you have found some contractors that tick all the boxes and meet the above criteria, I would recommend 2-3 contractors to come to the site to quote. Too many more and it’s just a pain and gets confusing. 2-3 is enough to make an informed decision.  It’s always best to meet them if you can on-site so you get a better feel for them and you can ensure that you have communicated everything you need re your job.

If you would like to discuss your upcoming painting project, call our expert painting team on 0800 28 82 28 to schedule a free consultation today.

How to choose the right contractor once you’ve RECEIVED a quote

Compare the quality of communication and response times

This is a wee sneak view into a business’s professionalism and how they engage with you. How were they when booking the site visit? Did they turn up on time? Did they get the quote back to you in a timely manner or did you have to keep chasing them? These things are a window into how they may on your project if they were a successful contractor.


Again, this kind of goes hand in hand with the communication and response times. How are they dressed? How are their communication skills, Are they listening to your needs and your scope of work. Do they have a high level of knowledge of what you want them to do? If they can communicate well there is a better chance, they are understanding what you want them to do.


Ensure the quote states the brand of the paint the contractor will use ie Resene or Dulux etc. Also, ensure the quote states the make as well i.e. wet area paints are different to lounge and bedrooms ie Resene Spacecoat vs Resene Zylone Low sheen. Make sure you know what you are paying for! If it is some obscure brand, you’ve never heard of – do some research or if it is a well known low-quality brand…. Well then run for the hills! If it doesn’t state on quote then ask! This protects you at time of job so you know and can see that they are using the paint they say they are too.

Scope of work

The most important thing you can do to ensure all quotes are “apples for apples” is to have a clear idea or list of what you want done so you can communicate to the contractor who is quoting. This means all contractors are quoting for the exact same scope of work.

Make sure each quote states the scope of work to represent what you are requesting including inclusions and exclusions.  If it is not stated? Ensure it is added and you get it in writing. You don’t want to accept a quote and then find out after the fact that you thought one thing and it is now deemed an extra and you have to pay additional to get it done. Remember a quote is your acceptance of the price and the work started so you HAVE to make sure you are protected in this area.


Pricing is definitely a consideration but it’s not everything. I’ve always said, to a non-painter or customer, the only thing semi recognisable on a quote is the price or value so it’s up to us as contractors to educate and let you know exactly what you are paying for and what processes and procedures are going to be completed. If you are getting a price – don’t automatically go for the cheapest one – ask the question. Why are they cheap? Does the scope of work match what I told them? (have they missed something off?). If they are extremely lower in price than the other 2 quotes, that is a red flag – ask questions. Protect yourself now vs later when it’s too late. The same goes for if there is a price that is way more expensive. Maybe they misunderstood the brief?

Variation rate

A variation or extra is usually something that may occur that is different and additional to the original quote. This may happen for many reasons. It could be because a customer has decided they want to extend the job or there is an issue as rotten wood has been found and so additional work will need to be done to rectify the issue (ie Repaircare). Usually, this is done on an hourly rate so make sure you get that in advance as to what their hourly rate could be if a variation should come up. Again, better to know in advance than be surprised after the fact.

Timings and expectations

It’s good to find out before you make your decision as to when someone can be available. It may not be a make-or-break decision but sometimes it’s good to know for your own peace of mind and organising. If you have deadlines – make that super clear when you are doing the site visit so there is no misunderstanding on the contractor’s part.

If you would like to discuss your upcoming painting project, call our expert painting team on 0800 28 82 28 to schedule a free consultation today.


Maryann is BDM and Project Manager for Paint it Perfect and has worked there for 3 years. Her background has been in Customer Services and Sales, working for Sony NZ for 20 years followed by 3 years as Sales Manager for Electrolux Home Products. She brings to Paint it Perfect her passion for providing a professional customer experience and as she says – customer service is in her DNA.

She is also currently a Director Consultant for BNI NZ, an international networking organisation, as she has a passion for small businesses and using her leadership skills to guide other like minded businesses to succeed.