Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable. — Jane Austen
Maybe I’m a little bias, but I find myself thinking that Jane Austen was in the middle of having some work done around her house when she said this.
I can’t imagine that someone had just brought her a delicious cupcake from her favorite bakery.
Perhaps she was more of a cookie person…
For most of us, surprises are usually good things. But during painting projects, sometimes, the surprises make us feel like Ms. Austen did.
So when it comes to painting, What kind of surprises should be expected?
I’m glad you asked.
One of the principles I run my company with is that- We Don’t Give Estimates, We Make Promises.
The only exclusion to that is a term called “Unknowable Conditions”. Which means if it was something we couldn’t reasonably know (like wood rot in the siding) at the time of the proposal, then we will show those things to you and determine the best course of action, and cost, as we find them.
If it is something that we didn’t notice, or overlooked, then that is on us.
I’ll give you an example:
Recently, me and my team were painting the exterior of a house. When I initially met with the homeowners, I noticed a fair amount of rotted wood on the siding and trim.
My company does handle small amounts of wood repair as a convenience to our clients, but this was a lot of work so I suggested they hire a carpenter to get everything taken care of before we started.
They hired someone that they thought would do good work, and for the most part this company did.
However, we expected to find a few surprises because of how long the owners had deferred the maintenance, and we were right.
This area was one of those surprises. This type of damage is a reasonable Unknowable Condition. It would be too time consuming to poke every inch, of every house, in order to check for damage prior to providing a price. We found 3 more areas similar to this, and 1 that the carpenter completely disregarded (but that’s another matter) that needed to be repaired prior to painting.
Now that you have a good idea of what an unknowable condition might look like, here’s a few more examples-
- De-laminating siding (where a factory finish or the top layers of wood separate for unexplained reasons)
- Silicone caulking
- Rust pitted gutters
- Weak/failed mortar joints in brick/block buildings
And a few examples of knowable conditions-
- The amount of paint needed for the project
- How long it will take to complete
- The areas, and types, of preparation that need done
- How many windows, doors, etc. are on the home
If you are talking with someone about painting your home, and they aren’t sure how these basic elements will affect the cost, I would recommend thanking them for their time and giving us a call– We think promises are better than surprises.