Obtaining formal bids begins with specifications for the work to be done. As we all know, the bids received are not always apples-to-apples because there are various ways of approaching a scope of work. For instance, painting with one coat or two. A bid for one coat of paint naturally will cost less than the bid for two coats. However, the discrepancy with competing bids becomes increasingly more problematic when they appear to have the same approach for doing the work, i.e., they both specify two coats of paint.
If two competing bids appear equal in terms of approach yet one bid is significantly lower than the other, this is a red flag. When you notice red flags, ask questions. The ultimate goal when soliciting bids should be to receive apples-to-apples bids. This is the only way to obtain usable bids.
To keep with the two coats of paint versus one coat example, here’s what you should know:
There is a difference between a real two-coat application and cross-hatching. While cross-hatching is a perfectly acceptable practice, it is not a true two-coat process.
What is cross-hatching?
- Painting (or spraying) in one direction (up and down) and again in another direction (left and right)
- It takes about 30% less time and 30% less paint than a true two-coat process
- The time and materials difference results in a lower price than a bid for a true two-coats
- The workmanship and quality are not comparable to a true two-coats
What constitutes a true two-coat application?
- The first coat of paint must be allowed to dry for one to four hours before the second coat is applied
- The first coat of paint is approximately 80% lighter than the final coat (this will allow you to visibly inspect the work and accurately determine if two coats were applied)
- Each coat should be relatively thin for maximum durability and longevity, as opposed to one thick coat applied using the cross-hatching technique.
If two bids appear comparable in scope of work to be performed yet differ drastically in price, ask the contractors to define two-coats for you. This will allow you to determine if the bid is for a true two-coats or if the bid is priced for cross-hatching. This applies for other repair work as well, be it wood replacement or fence repairs. If two bids differ significantly in price yet appear equal in scope, ask the contractor to explain their approach. Yes, this seems like more work for you but it’s worth it in the long run.
· For the first coat, use a primer for the greatest durability.
· To prevent a contractor from coming back a few minutes later to apply a thin second coat, require a dry time between coats of one to four hours depending on humidity and temperature. For example, Phoenix requires less in-between dry time than Seattle.
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