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Mike & Carolyn in Smithville, MO's Journal Entries

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Posted by Mike & Carolyn in Smithville, MO on 8/26/2008 2:37:16 PM

I truly believe in good karma.  What I put out there comes back around…I’m convinced.  I've been convinced since I gave my dinner to a cold and hungry man on the corner one December night many years ago. Back then I could have lost a few pounds anyway and he certainly shouldn’t be any thinner.  A few days later the ‘way too expensive’ tool chest I bought for my husband for Christmas ended up being FREE. No kidding, free. (I fed him a few more time after that just for good measure!)  Now just a few days after I rescue a rather large and very hungry animal (some sort of prairie dog looking thing) that was trapped in an egress window well at one of the new homes I’m trying to sell, I get an excellent deal on painting! Not free, but a good deal nonetheless. The couple I was showing the house to told me to just leave the thing in there to die. Not thinking twice about it I said, “ I can’t do that, it’s not good karma.”


Now that the drywall is done we are working on getting painting lined up. (As well as finishing up the trim order, getting the hardwood floor installation bids, juggling gutter bid issues, working on the concrete layout and price and a few other items) We painted the exterior ourselves, well…most of it.  There is still a small part of trim that needs to be finished and the plan is to have it on THIS Thursday.  The plan was to paint the interior to save money. The only part that worried me was the enameled trim.  Mistakes really show up in it and I’d like it done right.


I stopped by a few new house sites to recruit painters on the side. I was very surprised with one crew.  They stayed loyal to their employer and would not take a side job. They simply gave me their boss’s number and said they only work through him. I’m guessing they have been tested before and it didn’t turn out well. So I called the boss.


Boss Painter drove out for the estimate. Since I am only getting estimates to feel better about how much we will be saving doing the work ourselves I ask for the prices over the phone telling them they don’t have to drive out. I truly felt awful when after he said he was close and wanted to see it then got lost twice, spending 30 extra minutes searching for it. First calling to say, “Now what street was I suppose to turn left on?” Then a second call with, “I’ve driven up and down 108th street 10 times and can’t find your address.” that’s because it on 138th street.


After he got there and looked around he called back with the figures. What follows is the conversation, one of the strangest I’ve had with a sub.

Painter - “Well I’m here and looked around.  Looks like a pretty simple job. I measured everything out and I can do it for $3.50 per square foot (floor plan footage). That includes everything being caulked and primed, ceiling painted, color coat on walls and enamel on doors and trim plus clean up.”

Me –      “Okay, what does that figure out to as a total?”

Painter – “Well, we really don’t want to turn anything down right now.  Tell you what, I’ll do it for $3.25 a foot, now $3.20 a foot.”

Me –      “Let me get a calculator, I’d like to see what that figure out to as a total.”

Painter – “You know, that will come to about $2,900 but I want to keep busy. I’ll do it for a flat $2,200.”

Me –      “Okay, let me talk to my husband about it and I’ll get back with you. I also need to talk to a friend of mine whose brother is a painter to see if he’s going to want to do it.”


He went from $2,975 to $2,200 in the mater of 3 minutes and I NEVER asked for a discount. He has the best price of everyone I talked to, with prices ranging from $4,800 to $2,350 but it’s still more that I want to pay for painting.  One of the first rules of negotiating is to wait for the other party to respond.  If you’re doing all the talking and dropping than you’re negotiating with yourself. 


A few days went by and he called back to see if we had made a decision.  What a concept a sub that actually follows up!  He does want the business!!! I told him we were still thinking about it, and we were. I was still waiting on a bid from my friend’s brother, which didn’t work out.  He lives about 45 minutes away and with the price of gas he’d have to charge me for it. He at least told me he charges $2.50 per square foot for side business. That would calculate to $2,125. Pretty darn close to where we were at but still a lot higher than the price of paint and free labor to apply it.


While we thought his price was fair we still planed on tackling the painting ourselves, at least the walls and ceiling. I called the Painter Boss back to see what he would charge to just spray the enamel. We had actually planed on doing the primer and ceilings this Thursday, even borrowed the scaffolding of the drywall guy, just have to deliver it to him by Saturday morning.  The painter said he’d have to work up a price and get back with me. A few hours later he called back and the second strangest conversation took place.


Painter – “I’d really like to help you guys out so I talked to my wife about it and can work out a lower price with you. What had you wanted to pay?”

Me, with my chin on the floor…I get to set the price??
“Well…stalling for time…I feel bad even saying it…Stalling for time as I thought of a figure and stared at my husband with wide eyes desperately wanting help on a figure….You were at $2,200 and we just don’t have it right now. All we could really afford, and would pay cash, is around $1,000, possibly $1,200.” (and I should have never said $1,200… I was just so shocked and felt like awful with such a low number.  I knew what everyone was charging.)

Painter – “I think we can get this done. We talked about it and I don’t know why but I want to do this for you. And I can if we can be around $1,400 and I can do it over a few days so I can do it my self and have less overhead in it.”

Me –      “It sounds like we may be able to do this.  I will need to talk to my husband about it but will call you back in the morning.”


I couldn’t believe it.  Something must be going on and he NEEDS the money.  We are getting the entire inside done by a professional painter at $1.60 per foot. Plus he is painting the loft area (only about 150 sq ft and will be all one color) and priming the 36’ x 28’ foot garage. Paint and Supplies would have cost me around $500 plus the cost to rent a sprayer is $100 per day. Now I don’t have to lift a figure other than to write the check. 


I called back to agree to his price…but we would need to schedule the completion date two weeks out so we would have the full amount.  He doesn’t need to know we have the money now and paid $1,600 five years ago to get out living, dining and kitchen painted.

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