When you agree to provide painting services to a customer it is advisable to enter into a proper written agreement with them. If you have some kind of contract in place then both parties will know where they stand and understand their obligations.
So how can you put a contract together for your painting business? Well, a good first step is to have a look at the contracts that other painters or general contractors are using. You can find some good templates and examples online. These will give you some ideas on the type of clauses that you want to include. Remember though that every business is different so you will also have to consider adding clauses that are relevant to your unique situation. Lastly, you should have a lawyer look over any contract or agreement to make sure that it is set out properly and that you haven’t left anything out.
A good contract should look out for the interests of both parties. You should make sure that you include clauses that reassure prospective clients. A contract that is stacked too much in your favor could scare clients away.
Below are some suggestions for agreement terms that contractors may consider incorporating into the painting contracts for their companies.
Basic Contract Details
The basic requirement of a contract is a clause that sets out the parties that are entering into the agreement. Names and the date should be specified and there should be lines drawn up ready for both parties to sign their names.
Company Standards and Details
Outline some basic details about your painting company to reassure clients that they are dealing with professionals. Let them know that you are licensed, if that is a requirement of your state. Assure them that all work will be carried out in a manner that is in compliance with building codes and regulations for painters in your area.
Include details on the liability insurance cover that you carry in case they suffer damages as a result of your work on their property.
Set out a timeline of dates and times relating to the painting job. Let them know when you will be starting, what days and times you will be at the house and the date that you will be finished by.
Painting Job Description
Define which property you will working on by setting out its address and other details if necessary. Using as much detail as you can, describe the painting work that you will be carrying out and the quality standards to which you will be working. Include details on all surfaces that are to be painted, the type of paint that will be used and the number of coats that will be applied. It is common for painters to do a full clean up after a job and dispose of any toxic substances in the correct way.
Being as precise as possible, set out details as to how the customer will be inconvenienced due to the painting work going on at their property. Let them know when their access to certain areas of their home will be restricted.
Equipment and Supplies
Painting contractors usually provide all of their own equipment and materials for a job. State that your company will provide all of the equipment and supplies, if this is indeed the case, and list the items that you will be using. This can be a reminder to the customer about the value of the service that you are providing.
The other approach is for you to purchase paint and other supplies and then seek reimbursement from the customer. Under this approach you would provide an invoice that set out material costs and labor costs separately.
If you are signing a contract for outdoor painting work then you may need to include one clause relating to weather. Your ability to paint the exterior of a building may be limited by rain or other severe weather conditions and this could delay a job.
A good agreement should set out the payment terms and the obligations that the customer has in this respect. Set out the amount that must be paid, the dates that payment becomes due and the methods of payment that are acceptable.
Painters usually charge a flat fee for a job no matter how long it takes. Others have a price structure that includes hourly rates so the total cost of the painting job may not be clear until it is complete.
Always insist on getting a partial payment before you start work. This should be an amount that is enough to cover the basic costs that you will incur if the customer refuses to pay the final invoice for some reason. On larger jobs it is also common to have a payment schedule so that you can receive additional payments as the project progresses.
Some painting contracts include an indemnity clause. This usually states that the painting contractor has no right to sue the client in the event that they suffer a loss or damages as a result of their work for the client.
These days it is common for painting contractors to include a clause in their contracts stating that homeowners allow them to place advertising signage in their front yard. This can be a great advertising opportunity while you are working on a painting job. Some areas have ordinances that forbid this kind of advertising though so local regulations may deem such a clause irrelevant.
Changes, Delays and Other Problems
While this can get complicated, it does pay to remember that things can often change and you may need to have some kind of contingency plan. You may provide for some level of delay in completing the paint job and you may need to clarify what right the customer has to make changes to the job requirements along the way. Some contracts will also set out exit options or provide for a method of dispute resolution if such a situation arises.
Painting contracts should not only be a means of providing legal protection for business owners. When set out right with terms that are fair, they can also be a crucial part of the marketing process. It would be sad to lose a job due to the fact that a client didn’t feel comfortable with the written agreement. So make sure that your painting contract is worded in a way that is reassuring to the client while looking after your own interests at the same time.