First off, the picture on the top THAT IS A HOME OWNERS PAINT JOB. If you here a school kid or your neighbor, this is what you get. I was a painting contractor for the better part of 40 years and never saw a PAINTER (even the worst painter) leave a mess like that. Maybe the electrician or the carpenter but, that is not something a painter could even do if they tried.
What is the definition of a painter? Is it someone that can simply pick up a brush? Perhaps a painter is someone that climbs ladders while applying paint for a living? An experienced painter may have a few larger tools and own what appears to be a paint van/truck. In many cases, a painter maybe a college student or older person doing a few projects during the summer, on the side, weekend work or attempting to paint a few local homes for extra cash? Maybe this describes exactly what you are looking for? Or, does it sound like something you want no part of? Chances are, if you seek quality, you would likely not hire this person – right? You may ask – what’s the difference? A painter is a painter! Right?
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.
The size of the room to be painted is the most important factor in determining the cost of professional painting. It will take a painter longer to cover a large room than a small room, and this means higher labor costs in addition to supplies and time. When estimating the paint for such a job, keep in mind that a gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet (though the label claims it will cover 450 square feet). You will be charged for the number of paint cans needed, among other factors.

Can't speak highly enough of the service we received from James and his team. I did my due diligence and met with 3 painters. If I'd have met with James first, I might have skipped the other meetings. He talked me out of some extra work that wouldn't have come out the way i'd envisioned and showed me a packet full of successful projects, happy clients that dated back to the 1970s.
Not only do I agree with what you are saying; but, I will not use Angie's List for referrals again. Their "A" rated painter did some of the exact things they are now warning against; however, they are still rated "A". I sent in a review and it took eight weeks to post it. They allowed the contractor to lie about what happened as a response. I had proof and photos. Angie's List is a scam; instead ask neighbors and friends for referrals!
His team is very meticulous, very careful, very clean, and very courteous! They're also very accommodating. For instance, I mentioned a couple spots under some angled siding where I thought a little extra filling was needed, and they obliged without question. Same thing with a request for a stain-proof primer under a balcony. Doing these kinds of little things without question or extra charges is really nice!

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