I disagree with your criteria to hire a painter. A prompt returned call is nice but does not indicate the quality or fairness of the painter. As far as a written estimate, that should be more of a qualifier for the bid versus an evaluation criterion. I'm not sure one would have favorable results by hiring a painter on this basis. As far as the bidding process, change orders should ONLY be used if the customer requests additional scope (PMP 101). Angie's list should consider asking reviewers if/how much they were told to pay compared with the estimate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of contractors that are unethical and need to be accountable.
Home Works Painting is licensed (Virginia Class A #2705-153298) and insured (Workman’s Comp and General Liability), and has been servicing Northern Virginia since 2005. We pride ourselves on delivering a first class job with exceptional service. Home Works Painting has been selected as Northern Virginia’s Best Pick for painters for the past seven years, and is a member of Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA).
Paint gets more expensive as you go from flat to gloss. The difference is usually around $1 per gallon per sheen upgrade. Flat is the cheapest, then matte flat or eggshell, satin, semigloss then gloss. Paint also gets much more expensive the darker it gets. A white or neutral paint color can be as much as $20 less expensive than a deep base red or blue.
I had originally budgeted a lower amount for this project....painting had always been a DIY project in this home, so I didn't have a clue.    Now that I'm older and less nimble, I decided to hire it out.    Waldner's Handyman Services was very professional and worked with me to understand how costs were factored into my painting project.  I am very satisfied with the finished result and will use them again for future jobs. 

Painters with bad reputations can avoid the problem of reference checks by giving their customers lists of relatives and friends.  The people will say great things, and the customer won’t be the wiser.  The best way to avoid this smoke and mirror trick is to ask specific questions about the project. If the reference seems hesitant, doesn’t know the details, or gives sketchy responses, be skeptical. 

We got 4 quotes from various businesses.  Excel Home Painting came in middle of the road and we picked them because of their professional approach - and we are now very happy with the outcome!  Great job from start to finish  - on time; friendly staff and offered suggestions.   We had the exterior of our house painted and just got in before the weather turned nasty!
Enforcement of this Act by the Painter-Stainers Company was sought up until the early 19th century, with master painters gathering irregularly to decide the fees that a journeyman could charge, and also instigating an early version of a job centre in 1769, advertising in the London newspapers a "house of call" system to advertise for journeymen and also for journeymen to advertise for work. The guild's power in setting the fee a journeyman could charge was eventually overturned by law in 1827, and the period after this saw the guild's power diminish, along with that of the other guilds; the guilds were superseded by trade unions, with the Operative United Painters' Union forming sometime around 1831.[2]

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