I used to work at Sherwin Williams. The best thing to do is specify that you will purchase your own paint. If the painter objects strenuously, he was plaanning on making money in the ways this article outlines. You might pay a few dollars more for paint, but you will have control of the quality of what goes on your walls. Never skimp on paint quality.
This is an area that interior painters can easily cut short to save time. Most contracts don't state the extent of the wall repairs included, so it's up to the painter's discretion how much they will do. If it seems like too much work, they'll usually point out the repairs but don't include it in the bid. They'll then ask you if you'd like it fixed after they start your project and let you know how much more it will cost.
If you decide to paint multiple rooms in your home, choose colors that relate to one another without being completely the same -- unless uniformity is your goal, of course. Costs may vary based on differences in color, gloss and room size. However, each room will flow depending on the trim's color -- which should all be white or neutral -- so they look connected. A whole-house color scheme presents the same cost factors as painting multiple rooms individually: colors you choose, the gloss, the size of the rooms and time/labor. You can choose to use the same color throughout your entire home to save on money, or you can use a color scheme with the same gloss throughout, though this isn't recommended for selling purposes.
Painting is a skilled job with plenty of room for error, from knowing how to prepare the appropriate surface to understanding the best interior paint for the situation. When you book through Handy, we match your job’s requirements with experienced house painters who will leave you completely satisfied. They'll arrive with the right equipment in hand, ready to roll.

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.
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IF the average cost is $1700 to paint an interior, then that means the cost of paint is approx. $200 (12% of the job).  Or better said 5 gallons of paint (if the average cost is $40 retail).  The average room takes 1.5 gallons which will cover 3 average rooms.  Doesn't sound to average to anyone with knowledge of this industry or a average house.  You are misleading consumers and should do a better job in your research.  No wonder so pay people think prices to get work done by professionals is high.  Its not high, its actually average which is more like $3700.

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