The Exciting World Of Proposals & Contracts


As a painting contractor, writing proposals and performing contract administration are just two of the many job functions you will find yourself involved in. How well you manage these tasks will be critical to your company’s success. This includes creating a professional proposal, drawing up and submitting the contract and negotiating with the owner or general contractor.

Types of Contracts

There are commonly two types of contracts: prime contracts and subcontracts. The first is when you are providing the only work involved on a project and are dealing directly with the owner or their representative. In this case, you will be the prime contractor. The second is when you are bidding to provide work on a portion of a project that involves several trades and is being managed by a general contractor. In this situation, you are the subcontractor.

Prime Contracts

Several basic contract forms are available through the Internet, your local stationary stores or from any number of trade catalogues or book outlets. One such source is the Craftsman Book Company or at Customized forms are available through the source for house painting, commercial work, wall covering, interior, exterior, all-purpose and miscellaneous forms including Lien Releases, Notice of Cancellation and Change Orders.

Another excellent resource is BNi Building News. A variety of materials and information can be found through this organization, as well as several excellent seminars covering topics on the following subjects:

  • Mechanics Lien Law
  • Public Works Construction
  • Construction Claims
  • Employment Law
  • The “Greenbook”

Mandatory Content

Whatever source you use to obtain your contract forms, you should be aware of certain mandatory items that must be included in your contract documents.

You will want to provide your company’s name, address, phone number and the bid date. The contract must also have your contractor’s license number displayed. An accurate description of the work to be done can be written on the form itself, or attached on a separate sheet. Also include a payment schedule outlining what percentages will be paid and when. It’s also highly advisable to put a limit or expiration date on your offer.

I also suggest that you include the following statement:

“All work to be performed in a workmanlike manner according to the standards of the industry. Any alteration or deviation from the above specifications involving extra cost of material or labor will only be executed upon written orders for same, and will become an extra charge over the sum mentioned in this contract. All agreements must be made in writing.”

Below is a sample proposal and contract.

Proposal Example


When you submit a bid for a project to a general contractor, you are a subcontractor. In most instances, the proposal you submit will not be the contract you will sign if you win the job. In this type of transaction, you will almost always be asked to sign the general contractor’s own contract.


Depending on the situation, there are a number of ways in which you can submit your bids. If you are dealing with a homeowner or small business owner, little formality is usually observed. Most of the time, you will simply hand deliver the proposal in person or email them with a quote, following that up by mailing a hard copy.

When involved with more substantial bids, such as when submitting to institutions, larger businesses or general contractors, you should observe more formality. You can also supply a list of references for some of your more impressive jobs as well.



The proposals you submit say something about your company. Be sure they are professional in all aspects. Be sure to follow up with your customers to track results. Whether you win or lose, you should keep a record of these results as they will tell you where you are relative to your competition.

Ready to take on more proposals?