What’s Our Biggest Regret? Hiring These Detroit Painters.

Precision Painting Pluss of Detroit disappears on the job without an explanation

We did our due diligence (or at least tried to)

So when we were looking for exterior painters, we knew we needed a few things:

  1. Someone with a history of work on historic homes — obviously
  2. Someone with a history and record of working on wood windows and trim, not just siding and stucco— we have an all brick house
  3. Someone reliable and trustworthy — again, obviously
  4. Someone who would commit to proper prep work protocol — cleaning, scraping, sanding, repairing, and cleaning again before paint
  5. Someone who would give us a fair price — not looking for a steal, but not trying to break the bank either
  6. Someone who cares about quality

Time to get bids

It’s hard to know where to find the right workers in Detroit from our experience. We started by taking suggestions from neighbors and reading some reviews online and started making some phone calls. After about 10 or so calls, we had 8 painters scheduled to visit our home to give us bids within the next two weeks.

About 6 actually ended up showing up and producing bids for us. Prices ranged from about $6,000 (suspiciously low) to about $13,000. After receiving bids, I asked each company to provide us with a “portfolio” of their work… to provide us addresses of a few of their homes that they had painted. I asked for historic homes that showed their trim and window work that would be relevant to our job. This is where our problems began to show. Only two companies ever came back to me with addresses, and one who had claimed he’d done work on historic homes gave me addresses to strip mall businesses in Warren that had poorly painted vinyl siding and cinder blocks.

The other of the two, Precision Painting Pluss (spelled “Precision Painting Plus”, but with two “s”), called me back with about 5 addresses within a day, mostly in Indian Village, a historic Detroit neighborhood. Brandon and I drove to these homes, and tried to get as close as possible. Many had gates around them which prevented close inspection, but from a distance they seemed to look pretty good. It’s often hard to see/know the quality of the work when you also don’t know what the former condition of the home was before painting. Paint over homes already in rough shape wont look good by any painter. We stopped at one house and asked the homeowner who was outside about his experience with the painters. He recalled the painting company owner by name, Dwayne Hatcher, and said he thought they had done good work and that as a contractor he had hired them later for other painting work on some of his jobs. On one house we saw some dripped white paint on the brick facade, but after asking the Dwayne about it, he denied having dripped the paint and said “we absolutely don’t accept that kind of level of work. That dripped paint was on the home before we took the job.”

He answered every call I made to him, responded quickly, was very professional, and came to the home twice in order to meet us and talk through the job. We pointed out concerns and issues on the house that we had and he assured us that he would take care of them all and “give us the level of quality we were looking for”. The owner wrote up a contract to which Brandon and I asked that some additional requests be made on it such as “ensuring all surfaces will be washed, scraped, and sanded thoroughly before new paint is applied,” that “windows would remain operable,” and “broken glass would be replaced where necessary.”

“If you’re interested in hiring me for the job, I will absolutely sign that for you,” he said in our backyard as we looked over the house. We shook hands, and he said he’d be back in a day or two with his team to begin. He asked for 1/3 payment as a deposit and we agreed and gave it to him.

Day 1 — Major Kinks

The first day of work began while I and Brandon were at work on a Thursday. We got a call at lunch from Cal and Christian saying there was an issue when they were power washing the back of the house and water began spraying in from under the back door onto our brand new hardwood in the kitchen. Cal and Christian had handled the disaster, and Dwayne had called me apologizing, saying that they’d be washing by hand from there on, but complained about “your contractors being upset at a small mistake.” I watched the accident on our cameras and told him that I didn’t agree with him that Cal and Christian had been rude, nor had any fault in the matter, we moved on. I began to notice a defensive string in Dwayne.

After work we arrived at the house and quickly began to notice other issues. While the workers were very friendly, they had clearly been not given instruction, and with Dwayne not there, had begun caulking shut operable windows. One entire face of the house, just over 10 windows were caulked shut. Looking more closely, I saw that they had caulked over dirt, having never even bothered washing the windows let alone scraping or sanding them before beginning. I called Dwayne immediately, and told him what was going on. He seemed struck by surprise and pronounced that he would “handle it immediately” and that what was happening was “unacceptable.” The workers received a phone call and began scraping out caulk that they had applied that day. Dwayne assured me that it wouldn’t happen again and that tomorrow they would start with on a new page.

Week 1 — Continued Issues

Brandon and I began meeting the painters before work at the house every morning, watching them begin for an hour or so before we had to go to our jobs. During my lunch break, I would rush to the house to check on them, correcting their various mistakes that continued to occur. After about 2 days of this we had a bigger conversation with Dwayne, how we were disappointed in the work, but that we enjoyed his employees as people. They listened and would do what we asked of them, but we couldn’t be there to keep holding their hand when he wasn’t around. If i turned my back for an hour they’d be skipping steps left and right. Dwayne accepted our critiques and agreed that we shouldn’t have to be there to watch, assuring us conditions would improve. Brandon and I remained unconvinced and he and I began taking days off work on and off so that one of us would be there to watch.

Finally, one day Brandon and I were unable to be there to watch and after work I came home to complete disaster. They’d begun painting far too early, had painted windows that were completely unprepped or poorly prepped. Had painted over wet window glazing that Dwayne agreed would be given 4–5 days to dry. One window I touched the glazing and it appeared to have been painted over within minutes of being applied to the windows. Nothing was sanded, almost nothing was cleaned, paint applied directly over flakes of paint and dirt. Many windows were drying shut with paint. We panicked.

Are you serious?
There’s that “precision”
*facepalm*

Week 2 — Come to Jesus

I went around the home and documented some of the more egregious concerns with my phone. Sending all images via text to Dwayne, stated that “we need to talk,” and asked him what time he’d arrive at the home in the morning to resolve this. That next morning we had a long and difficult conversation with Dwayne. That we were disappointed in the work, in his lack of management, and now the damage being done to our home. We told him that we enjoyed his employees, but couldn’t trust them to produce the quality we needed and he had agreed to provide. A few of his employees, I let him know I thought were doing fine or acceptable work, but listed the others who seemed to be not listening, or slacking off entirely. Finally, we gave him an ultimatum, and that we could no longer pay him his next requested deposit for the next 1/3 of the labor until our concerns were resolved.

His head hung and he pulled his employees in, had me express my views to them, and then he assured me and his team that they would be turning a new leaf, that no more painting would happen until I had approved the prep on the windows and that the next few days would ONLY be spent on proper prep. We left thinking maybe we’d gotten it to sink in. And after returning from work, the prep done looked much better, steps had been done properly, and we’d noticed on our cameras that day that Dwayne had been inspecting the windows throughout the day as they worked. Finally, Brandon and I felt like we had gotten through to him and his team, and the second day of prep went equally well. We agreed to pay the next 1/3 after several days of solid prep, and moved on.

Regret

The next week ebbed and flowed. Some days were better than others, but overall things had improved slightly. The first coat was applied to our gables and garage and the home started to look a lot different. Our storms were pulled off the house earlier the previous week, and after a few days of rain, many of our storms began to become saturated with water sitting outside, Dwayne had not made sure to cover them with the forecast. The workers started trying to paint these wet storms and I stopped them, grabbing a storm and walking them with me to try and fit it on the window. With the moisture, the storm window was far from fitting, and so I instructed them that painting storms in this condition wouldn’t be acceptable. We placed the storms in the garage to dry and I asked focus to be placed back on the house for now instead.

I called Dwayne who wasn’t on site and told him about the storms, that I had moved them into the garage to dry and that I would place a dehumidifier there to help pull the moisture out. Dwayne agreed and said he’d look for another dehumidifier to maybe add to the garage as well from a friend. I hung up and went back to work after our conversation, completely unaware of what would happen next.

The garage, out of everything, looks like the best work… but with only one coat, old paint still shows through and wood/stucco repairs weren’t yet painted. Over-spray still abounds as well.

Gone

Brandon and I arrived back to the house after work to check on the day’s progress. Usually a man or two from his crew would stay till sunset working, but when we arrived at the house everyone was gone. Christian asked us if I’d talked with the painters that day and I said I had. “When? Recently?” Christian asked. I told him that I’d talked to Dwayne at lunch. “Did you notice that all their ladders and stuff is gone?” I looked around and realized everything was gone. No paint, no brushes, no power washers, no ladders, nothing. “Dwayne left about 30 min ago, I was outside taking a break and he said he was ‘done with us’ and left. Maybe you should give him a call.”

Called. No answer. Left a nice voicemail “just checking in” and it has been six days now with no reply. He had cashed our second of 3 checks the day before leaving. We are left with about 30% of the windows completely unpainted or prepped, 30% painted with two coats of mediocrity, 30% painted with 1 coat poorly, none of our doors finished, none of our storms prepped or painted, only 1 of 4 broken panes of glass replaced that he agreed to replace for us in the job, and only a single coat on our garage and gable trim (old paint showing through). Our contract with Dwayne, signed by him, was for all surfaces to be washed, scraped, sanded, primed, and painted with two coats, glass replaced, and doors treated with extra care.

So to those of you who are looking for a trustworthy, quality painter in the city of Detroit, we absolutely cannot recommend Precision Painting Pluss or Dwayne Hatcher.

I hope he’ll return my call and at least some of our money we paid, rather than just ditching a reasonable and patient customer like this with no warning. But after six days of waiting patiently for a response, I am confident that he has decided against giving us the work and quality he had promised.

We wish Dwayne would have just come to us and told us if he thought he couldn’t complete the job for one reason or another. We’d have been happy to end the contract on fair terms and parted ways, but leaving with thousands of dollars of our money, our paint, and no explanation, is beyond unprofessional. Make your own opinions, but unfortunately, we cannot recommend them. The last thing we want at this point, is to see someone else go through an experience like this one, especially one of our many wonderful neighbors with historic homes like ours.


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tags: Precision Painting Plus Detroit, Precision Painting Pluss Detroit, Dwayne Hatcher and Omar Ahmed of Detroit, Detroit home painters, Detroit house painters, Detroit exterior painters

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