A Tale of Two Painters

I am perplexed.

If you read the paper you can tell how bad the housing market is here. With that comes the decline in home improvement which hits the trades people hard. Very hard. I know of at least three crews that I had bid jobs over the winter that are no longer in the business.

It’s gotten so bad that the high end contractor that I always use on my personal residence asked me if he could bid on a large renovation project that I did a while back – and he actually met the lowest bid.

So it seems that contractors and trades people, even the very good ones, are hurting.

Which brings me back to my first point. I’m perplexed. About painters.

Why? Because in the midst of all of this hardship and strife, I’ve have had two consecutive painters that have screwed up such that not only will I never use them again, but I want to make sure that nobody else does either.

The first one is Marvin Riley Custom Painting out of Flint.

This guy had it all. He had all of my business, and a good slice of the business from a number of other investors that I know because he was reasonable in terms of price, quality, and timing. Then something strange happened. He stopped showing up. Stopped returning my calls. Stopped answering his cell phone. He just disappeared. He left my job partially done, and forced me to hire someone else to finish the job, which ended up costing more than if he would have finished the job as we had agreed to in writing. Bad Marvin.

So if you see the name Marvin Riley Custom Painting come up – ignore it and move on. This guy isn’t worth it.

The second perplexing painter is Rodney at Top Notch Painting out of Hazel Park. I needed a new painter after the job that Marvelous Marvin ditched, so I asked around and came up with Rodney’s name from another very active investor that I have known now for several years.

I called Rodney for an estimate on painting my new rental. He comes by and quotes me a price that’s high, but we negotiate it down to a more manageable level. I walk him through the house and give him instructions. You want to know what they were? The same instructions that I use on all of my rentals: bathroom walls, kitchen walls and kitchen cabinets semi-gloss white. The entire rest of the house antique white satin. Full stop. Could there be simpler instructions?

He says no problem – he’ll get it done in 8 days. I say great – let’s make it 11 days and put it in writing so I can count on you absolutely being done on time. He writes it down. We sign the agreement. He leaves.

The first thing that happens is that he DISAPPEARS. He gets tarps laid and material delivered – then – nothing. I call him – no reply. I call him again – no reply. I finally get a call back on the day he’s supposed to be done, which was the day before my renters were supposed to move in. He now says SUNDAY is “a better estimate”. I tell my renter. The renter says he needs to move Saturday so he walks.

Rodney then calls me Monday morning saying that he’s “99% done”, and that by the end of the day he’ll be done and the place will be clean. Riiiiiight.

I go by Tuesday to check on the now supposedly completed job. It turns out that my instructions were far, far too complex for him to comprehend. The entire house is painted antique white! AAAARRRRRRGGGG!!!! Kitchen walls. Kitchen cabinets. Bathroom walls. The only white paint in the entire house was on the ceiling in the living room and dining room! (Do you remember the Love Boat episode when captain Steubing has his cabin painted, realizes he hates the color, then tells the painters to paint “everything” blue, so they paint EVERYTHING blue? This was kind of like that.)

Not only that, but my friend Rodney had removed ALL of the window treatments – EVERY ONE – and dumped them in a massive, disorganized pile on the floor in the basement – and simply left them there when he was done.


His response was classic when I called him. I lied to him about the paint color. He though that I didn’t want the curtains anymore. Blah blah blah blah. He even told me that he didn’t get my messages. I though that that excuse stopped getting used when you used a cell phone?

Maybe he heard voices from the black helicopters or something. Who knows.

Needless to say, Rodney at Top Notch Painting won’t be getting any more of my business!

And another one bites the dust. Isn’t there a single painter that out there that does what he says when he says?

The search continues . . . . .