Question: I hired a woman to paint the walls in my dining room and also hang wallpaper. All was going well until the woman slipped down the ladder carrying a can of paint. Paint went flying everywhere—on the floor and dining table. The woman seemed ok, no injuries, just a little frazzled. I asked her if she was ok, if she needed anything like an Advil. The woman responded: “I’d rather just have a shot of vodka.” I was thrown off by the response but went ahead and gave her one. I was pretty uncomfortable by now not to mention that I spent several hours cleaning up the paint mess. How should I have handled the situation?
Answer from Paula Fullerton, Owner/Designer at Sew Fine II Interiors: In 30 years of decorating, I have never heard of a contractor asking for alcohol! This is highly unusual and a red flag. This homeowner should not have given the painter/wallpaper hanger a drink. She was correct in asking if the contractor was ok and offered to call a family member or medical help for her. It was unfortunate that the homeowner had to clean up the paint that was spilled. This is the responsibility of the contractor. In light of both the unusual request for alcohol and having to clean up the spill, she should have terminated the business arrangement with the painter. When hiring a contractor of any kind to work in your home, it is important not only to have references but to affirm the contractor has liability insurance. Accidents are just that….and accidents can occur during any type of decorating or home improvement project. For the contractors and the homeowners’ protection, liability insurance is an important consideration when entering into a home improvement contract.
Answer from Kellie Landen of Kellie Landen Designs: Firstly, the room must be prepped to avoid paint spillage. The floor should be covered and furniture out of the room. This also allows you to maneuver around the room much more easily. Also, make sure your contractor is bonded and insured—just in case there is an accident. As for drinking on the job, I wouldn’t advise it. And if a contractor asks for a shot, laugh it off and get him or her out of there as soon as possible. Take it as a lesson learned: ask friends and people you respect for recommendations for jobs on your next project. You get what you pay for in life, and I tend to pay a little more knowing that I’ve hired a professional contractor who stands by his or her work.
Answer from Laurie Ledbetter and Sallie Jackson of Affordable Chic: Sallie and I commiserated on this and decided first and foremost hire a professional with a business license for protection. Secondly, when asked for a shot of vodka, we would have chuckled and said: “Better yet, how about a shot of iced tea with lemon?!?” (Absolutely no alcohol!) Thirdly, if she didn’t offer to come back and clean up, not much you can do there without a prior agreement—lesson learned and hope no one else has to learn the hard way!
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