On many home improvement projects that last more than a few days—painting often qualifies—there are things you can do to help the job run smoothly, finish on time, and produce the best results.

  • Prep work—You’re paying for painting, not for workers to move furniture or clear kitchen cabinets. It’s one thing to ask for help moving a large bookcase, but first pack up all the books on it—and all your knick-knacks in the room.
  • Save space—Move your car out of the driveway so the painter can park a van full of supplies near the house. Allot them an area on-site for stowing tools and materials.
  • Daily schedules—Ask when the crew will start and finish work each day.
  • Bathroom breaks—Either make a bathroom available or rent a portable toilet.
  • Communication—Brief meetings to discuss the job—preferably every day—help quash misunderstandings.
  • Deal promptly with surprises and changes—No contract can anticipate every possibility. Materials may be unavailable. Large chunks of rotten siding may crumble along with the old paint. Exterior jobs may be stopped cold by a week of steady rain.
  • Extras—Changing your mind about a color after the trim is already painted is an extra. The procedure then is to work out a mini-contract with the painter, called a “change order,” that briefly describes what was and what will be, and establishes a price for the extra work. Be mindful that no painter can foresee that a small hole by the gutter is the entry for a horde of squirrels that chewed up your ceilings. When a questionable extra pops up, look for a middle ground.
  • Don’t call after work hours—Once the job starts, limit discussions about the job to work hours. Describing paint problems is a lot easier when you’re both on-site looking at them.
  • Put up with noise—Listening to music or podcasts makes the day shorter. Avoid intruding on workers’ routines, even if they’re (shudder) playing smooth jazz.