Painter Or Friend For Hire?

Cheap vs. Frugal

Serena and Matt needed to repair and paint all of the rooms on the second floor of their new house.  Matt called in a couple of contractors to give quotes, but Serena really wanted to use her friend Patty’s husband Joe.  She knew he did good work, and she knew they could really use the money.  However, Matt was leery.  He had hired friends to do work before, and it ultimately ruined the friendship.  Serena assured him that that everything would be fine, and that she’d deal with Joe directly so Matt wouldn’t need to get involved at all.

So, Serena called Joe and told him the prices for the other quotes, and if he could match the best one, the job was his.  Joe agreed to the price and the time frame, and immediately he and his assistant got to work.  Everything was looking fabulous and going smoothly until Joe underestimated his time, and the job went over by three days…

Serena really didn’t mind the extra time, that is until she received Joe’s final invoice – with 3 days of labor overages for both he and his assistant!  Under normal circumstances, Serena wouldn’t put up with any games like this from a contractor of any sort.  She would simply remind Joe that he gave a quote and not an estimate.  If he took longer, that was his problem.

But now Serena is in the awkward position to confront her friend’s husband, and she’s overwhelmed with the potential harm the confrontation could do to the friendship.  Worst of all, she can just hear Matt saying, “I told you so.”

Should Serena treat Joe like anyone else who she made a deal with?  Or should she pay a little more and compromise what she feels is right  out fear of losing a friend?  What would you do?  Tell us what you think!

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16 Responses to “Painter Or Friend For Hire?”

  1. louie says:

    She should listen to her husband from now on. Of course she’s in a pickle now, and will jeopardize her friendship for sure. On the other hand, her friend the painter is also in the same situation and it would be interesting to see if he is willing also to jeopardize their friendship over his mistaken time/labor quote. Not to question this would be nothing more than stupid.

  2. Betty says:

    What friend????? Stick to the quote and stop trying to impress your so called friend with your money.

  3. Simone says:

    My initial thoughts are to tell Joe that he quoted you a price that matched another professional contractors, so she needs to stick to his original quote.
    His miscalculation of time isn’t your problem….unless there was some problem he had to fix that couldn’t be seen until he started working.

    I had my apt painted a couple of years ago and told the painter to put new molding in the living room, but not the bedroom. He accidently put new molding in the bedroom instead of the living room and when I noticed it and pointed it out, he said, “well I guess you’re getting new molding in the bedroom for no extra charge”. It was his mistake and he owned up to it. I felt bad as he’s a terrific guy and made an honest mistake that cost him. So I offered to pay for the molding he bought and then a little extra for the time. He was happy. Had he demanded that I pay more because of his mistake, I wouldn’t have offered.

  4. Christine says:

    If you knew he would be going over the estimated job completion time, you should have anticipated a potential discrepancy in the bid vs. actual time/labor costs. Since she didn’t do that, I would meet in person to review the project together (quality of work, on-going maintenance, etc) and point out the fact you had agreed on a budget both in time/costs of materials. Since he underestimated, I’d tell him that while you value his work and friendship, he should not be billing you for extra time/labor. Depending on his attitude and the reason for the underestimation (as Simone was saying if it was some unforseeable repair that came to light upon digging into the project) I would offer to cover the required materials and maybe half of his added labor expense. I certainly wouldn’t pay for his helper’s labor, since he could have finished the job solo even if it took 6 days! Just my opinion. Good luck!

  5. Linda says:

    I don’t think you should pay anything extra because you asked could he do the job at the price of your best quote and he agreed. When a contractor gives you an estimate that’s what you stick with. If he goes over more days that is not your fault.

  6. Will says:

    Normally when a contractor gives you an estimate… it is an ESTIMATE. No contractor can predict the exact cost of doing a job, maybe there’s unseen circumstances that result in the contractor doing more labor or being required to purchase more materials. If its the contractors fault due to negligence then he should be held accountable but don’t expect for the cost to be exactly what is quoted unless you sign a contract for that amount. Even then there are many reason for the job to be more than what was stated.

    The problem here is Joe agreed to a price and a time frame set by another contractor and could not honor the agreement. Serena should confront Joe and say hey, we agreed for this price but I’m billed a different price. What caused the discrepancy and can we meet in the middle?

  7. Simone says:


    Just some clarification.
    She wasn’t given as estimate, she was given a quote.

  8. Shirleyann says:

    I agree with Will…and meeting in the middle may be to just pay his co-worker for his overtime portion and her friends husband eat the rest.

  9. ~pm says:

    This happened to me several years ago, actually twice didn’t learn my lesson. My friend the roofer underestimated, in brought it up, he got pissed. I ended up paying him. Later our friendship soured as his quality wasn’t good and he didn’t stand by his work. Second time I used my friends sister. I ended up paying her and finally vowed never to use a friend, neighbor etc. If If I can’t fire a person, I don’t want to hire him/ her.

  10. ~pm says:

    This happened to me several years ago, actually twice didn’t learn my lesson. My friend the roofer underestimated, in brought it up, he got pissed. I ended up paying him. Later our friendship soured as his quality wasn’t good and he didn’t stand by his work. Second time I used my friends sister. I ended up paying her and finally vowed never to use a friend, neighbor etc. If If I can’t fire a person, I don’t want to hire him/ her. But I tend to be a big softie.

  11. Go Fast says:

    He agreed to the other contractors quoted price in order to get the job. It is not the homeowners fault that he couldn’t do it as quick as he thought he could. Besides, as an individial, he has a lot less overhead & probably made more profit on the job than the original (lowest bid)contractor would have. I’d stick to the original agreement.

  12. juli says:

    Pay it and be quiet, especially if he did a good job.

  13. jersey says:

    Well Joe didn’t think too much of the friendship when he did honor his “quote”… I say dump him and tell him why!

  14. laura says:

    my husband is a professional painter and usually doesn’t take on jobs for friends. but our friends needed the exterior of their house painted…and the quotes they were getting were very high, so my husband was asked for a quote on the job. The first thing he did was inspect the job…he didn’t just agree to another contractors estimate, the second thing he did was gave them a price range, not an exact cost and explained to them the reason for the amount of the range in his quote, third he over estimated time. He knew it would take at-least three days but due to weather…and anything else unforseen three extra days should be tacked on. He explained his reasoning for all these steps in his quote. He only asked for cost of paint and materials upfront, providing a receipt when he showed up to begin the job. It ended up taking him five days, four days of painting, 1 very long day of touch ups. Also he discussed with our friends method of payment..they wanted to pay in cash…you can work for a friend but you MUST treat them like a client/contractor before setting out to to the work for them. We are still friends and they LOVE their house…even got a few offers after that!

  15. Sara says:

    I have no experience with this stuff but I would have preferred to pay the contractor by the job and not by the day or whatever this was. If he finishes early then good for him, if he finishes late then it doesn’t matter either because he’s not being paid by the hour. It’s his own time.

    I would provide all the materials and he just does what he needs to do. In this case, it’s hard because he’s (supposedly) a friend but you would think a friend would honor what he said he would do, even if he made a mistake in his quote. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do the right thing.

    I would remind him about the estimate and that he was asked if he could beat those other contractors and he said he could.

    He was held to a higher standard because he is a friend. If he says no then he’s not really a friend.

    Maybe this is why business and friendship don’t mix.

  16. jj says:

    Pay the money and never hire him again.

Any Thoughts?