The win-win

by Brian Sodoma

Modern ApartmentsChange orders, changed minds, changed opinions, and sudden realizations can turn any job into a money-loser quickly. Pam Estabrooke has taken her share of lumps on these fronts, and she’s still found ways to stay profitable.

The owner of ProTect Painters near Atlanta recently worked on a 22-story condo project with its share of hiccups. Designers came and went and the HOA had a strong perfectionist streak.

But even with delays and plenty of change orders, Estabrooke still sees the job as a success. She, along with other paint and property management professionals, highlight a few keys to keeping projects successful—no matter what happens.

Prep talk

Too often, a property manager and painter aren’t on the same page with the amount of prep required, says Paul Rhodes, president of the National Apartment Association. This can cause delays in the eyes of the property manager, who may have thought the job could be done sooner.

Rhodes advises property managers to ask questions and allow the painter to educate them on all facets of the job. That way, they can better inform the HOA board regarding issues.

“A lot of times, a property manager doesn’t understand it takes more time to prep the surface than to put the color on,” he explained.

Rep help

Estabrooke likes to involve her paint company rep in color matching and other design-related dialogue. Paint pros are experts when it comes to effectively applying paint, but can’t always make good color recommendations. Reps can offer larger color samples and important suggestions to help a property manager or HOA better visualize the final product—a service property managers usually appreciate.

“Develop a relationship with your vendors and use them. Drag them out to the project. Get them involved early,” she added.

Oddball logistical issues

Many homeowners with pets live at Estabrooke’s condo project. This can create scheduling problems for paint crews that may need access to a unit. To avoid problems, she maintains regular contact with her property managers to learn about tenant communications. It’s the property manager’s job to keep residents informed of crews needing access to units.

“Fine details like that can become a ‘gotcha’ and hold up final payment,” she said. “All that must come from the property manager. They need to let everyone know what’s going on.”


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