Limits of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty. The author and publisher shall not be liable for your misuse of this material. This book is strictly for informational and educational purposes. Warning – Disclaimer. The purpose of this book is to educate and entertain. The author and/or publisher do not guarantee that anyone following these techniques, suggestions, tips, ideas, or strategies will become successful. The author and/or publisher shall have neither liability nor responsibility to anyone with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.
My heartfelt appreciation to the following people for being my biggest fans and supporters of me, my business, and my dreams:
My wonderful, beautiful wife, and best friend, Heather. My daughters, Alison, Amy, and Christine.
Protecting and increasing the value of your biggest investment is something every homeowner is concerned with. East Coast Powerwashing Inc. has just one goal – to help make your home a more beautiful and safer place for you, your family, your friends and neighbors. In return for our commitment to you, we hope you’ll gladly reward us with just compensation for our service and referrals to people you care about – so that we can stay in business for a long time and be of service to you for years to come.
Who the Heck is Dan Galvin
7 Questions You Must Ask
Mistake 1: Trying to Do It Yourself
Mistake 2: Hiring an Unqualified Power Washer
Mistake 3: Making Decision on Price Only
Mistake 4: Not Verifying Proper Insurance
Mistake 5: Received Quotes Over the Telephone
Mistake 6: Not Verifying Proper Training and Certifications
Mistake7: Not Asking for a Satisfaction Guarantee
Words of Appreciation
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”.
By Booker T. Washington
I can remember about 20 years ago I borrowed a pressure washer from my uncle. He went over a long list of things I needed to know before I used the machine, but like a typical guy I did not listen to him. I thought that if someone else could do it, so could I! Well that is where I was wrong. I never imagined how much knowledge, time, and equipment you need to do a power washing job, and do it correctly.
The title of this book, 7 Costly Mistakes Smart Homeowners Make When Hiring a Power Washer, comes from the mistakes I, and people I know, have made over the years in hiring different contractors. So, although this book talks about power washers, you can apply the knowledge shared here when hiring most types of contractors – allowing you to always get the best value and keep you and your loved ones safe when working on projects that beautify and enhance the value of your home.
All good wishes,
Who the Heck is Dan Galvin and Why Should You Pay Attention to Anything He Shares In This Book?
My name is Dan Galvin and together with the love of my life, my wife of twenty five years – Heather – and now my son-in-law Jake Mowles we own and operate East Coast Powerwashing Inc. Our original company’s name was S.A.M.S. Mobile Wash which started off as a Fleet Washing (truck washing) company and would also clean houses and sidewalks as the jobs came along.
I joined the power washing business in 2003, when I purchased S.A.M.S. Mobile Wash from my uncle Ken. Prior to that I worked 13 years in the insurance business and served six years in the U.S. Navy.
My wife was totally against me starting in the power washing business because she had no knowledge of the industry and asked me, “How the heck are you going to make a living with a G.D. garden hose!!!!!” She was not very happy with me.
Well it has been over 13 years since I started in the power washing business and I am proud to say that I have accomplished more than most power washers have. I would say the one main key to my success in the power washing business is because I joined Power Washers of North America ( PWNA), www.PWNA.org, when I first started in business in 2003.
I mention the PWNA because it is the oldest non-profit power washing association in the industry today and it’s members are the core of the industry. I immediately became strongly involved with the PWNA. Through community projects organized by PWNA I washed the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, for which I was awarded one the most prestigious reward in our industry – the Robert Hinderliter Award (founder of the PWNA) - “PWNA’S Most Valuable Member of the Year” in 2007. And as a result of the work I did with PWNA over the years, I was also recognized with the Merit Award in 2008.
I am very proud to say that in 2008 I was elected to the industry’s highest position as President of Power Washers of North America. It is truly an honor to be elected to this position and work with an incredible board of directors.
Prior to my election as President of the PWNA, I was a member of the PWNA Education Committee which designs and approves certification courses for the power washing industry across North America. I not only have instructed fleet washing and house washing for the PWNA throughout the United States, but I wrote the House Washing Certification Course for the PWNA that is still in use today.
I tell you all this because one of my goals is to educate the public about the power washing industry. We are NOT “Splash-and-Dashers” looking to make a few bucks for beer money; we are an actual industry of professionals that care about our businesses, our customers, and the communities in which we live and work.
However, our industry has a dark side; it often attracts a large number of “fly by nighters” – people that don’t understand how to properly get the job done and are often willing to cut corners on quality and safety just to make a few bucks. You, the homeowner, have to be aware of them, because while getting “a deal” might be an attractive proposition, if something is too good to be true – well, it almost always turns out to be a bad decision in the long run.
The good news is that there is a large and growing number of Professional Power Washers who are continually investing in educating ourselves and our employees how to do our job safely and correctly.
This book is designed to educate you – the consumer – how to spot quality service providers and never fall prey to unethical contractors and their shady offerings.
7 Questions You Must Ask Your Contractor Before You Hire Them To Work On Your Home Or Business Property.
Not all service providers are equally qualified to help you with your power washing projects. And, unfortunately, many are only interested in getting a few of your hard earned dollars without much concern for providing you with good quality service and lasting value. These questions will help you recognize quality contractors and spot the “bad apples.”
1. Do they have insurance?
2. Do they have a business license?
3. Do they offer a guarantee?
4. Are they certified or do they have any type of license for the type of job that they are doing?
5. Do they have the proper knowledge of their equipment and the cleaning process?
6. Do they use a mold inhibitor to protect your home and neutralize the cleaning products?
7. Do they require you to pay cash or write the check out in their name?
Mistake One: Doing It Yourself
Most homeowners feel that power washing is an easy job, and one that they are willing to try themselves. What usually happens though is the homeowner will go to the local box-store and buy an inexpensive pressure washer or rent the wrong one, buy inferior cleaning chemicals, or worse a bottle of bleach, come home and start the project. Little do they realize how difficult the job really is.
The box-store pressure washer is an inferior product. The pounds per square inch (psi) is not strong enough; the engine is not strong enough and most box-store pressure washers come with only a 25- foot hose. When the homeowner begins to clean the home, they have a difficult time reaching high peaks of their home or even to the second floor level. So what happens is the bottom half of your home is somewhat clean, but the top half is still dirty which accentuates how dirty the house really is. This is disturbing to the homeowner because one who puts forth the effort to try to power wash their home is only defeated by the lack of curb appeal. The house looks dingy and still has the dreaded mold on it.
The average homeowner does not have a ladder sufficient in height to reach the second or even third floors. I personally do not recommend the use of ladders in power washing unless it is absolutely necessary. The homeowner is not familiar with the force of the water and could actually throw them off balance and create a greater potential to fall which may result in serious injury or death. The homeowner gets frustrated and gives up trying.
Most homeowners will start the project themselves and do not realize the extent of damage they can do to their property or themselves. They are unfamiliar with the nozzle at the end of the wand and the psi that comes out. The pressure, if set to high can rip wood apart, remove paint, destroy decking, cause wood furring, and splitting of vinyl siding.
As a professional power washer, I have been privy to seeing many unhappy homeowners and the damage that they have unintentionally done to their property. Most of my best and appreciative customers are those that own their own pressure washers and have attempted to wash their own homes. They understand how difficult and time consuming power washing really is.
I had this one client who rented a pressure washer, bought all the cleaners, and set out to wash his house himself. He spent an entire weekend attempting to wash his house and the house actually looked worse when he was done! He could only reach halfway up his house which extenuates how dirty his home actually was. In the end, the bottom half of his house was clean, but the top was filthy with dirt, grime, and mold. His deck on the back of his home was worse! Most homeowners think that they can use the same pressure that is used on the vinyl as on the wood decking. He attempted to clean it using the back and forth motion, and the result was what we in the industry refer to, as “zebra- ing” effect. You wind up with stripes back and forth on your deck. The pressure was too great and the deck floor was ripped and furred.
This owner called my company for help! Not only did we wash the home properly, we sealed the home with a wax mold inhibitor. Although time consuming, we were able to remove the “zebra-ing” from the deck and seal it to last for years to come. Needless to say, he was one happy, but tired homeowner.
Mistake Two: Hiring an Unqualified Power Washer
Many a person will slap a magnetic sign on their truck, purchase a box-store pressure washer, grab a gallon of bleach, and call themselves a “Power Washer”. Then un-knowing homeowners will hire such a person, and as a result open themselves up to a myriad of problems.
You can recognize these guys by the magnetic signs, no uniform, and a pile of ladders atop their vehicle. We in the industry refer to them as “splash-and-dashers”. They are looking for their weekend beer money. They are unqualified, unreliable, and can pretty much bet uninsured!!!
Not only are the “splash and dashers” untrained, but they use inferior equipment such as that little 3 gallon pressure washer that you saw on sale at the local box-store. Therefore, if they are using inferior grade equipment, they are using inferior grade cleaners.
As a homeowner, you never ever want your home cleaned with BLEACH alone. Bleach will make the mold disappear, but it does not remove it.
Do not fall for the misconception that bleach will clean. Bleach is not a detergent, it will not clean and that’s a fact!
Washing a house is like doing laundry, you use the detergent to clean the clothes and the bleach to whiten the clothes, you don't just add bleach and hit start. The sad part about the power washing biusiness is that 85% people who call themselves power washers throw bleach on a house, rinse and go. I am not talking about just the small one man businesses, I am talking about even large companies. There are very few power washers that use the proper house washing soaps and even fewer power washers that seal your house with a wax sealent to prevent mold from grownig back.
Bleach should never be used on wood!
If you have ever spilled bleach on a pair of jeans you know that it will turn the spot white, then after you wash them you notice that there is a hole in that spot and every time you wash them the hole gets bigger and bigger.
That’s what bleach will do to wood, Bleach destroys the wood fiber in wood shingle homes and wood decking, just like it destroys your jeans. Bleach will shorten the life span of shingles and decking. Again, do not allow anyone to use bleach on your wood shingles or wood deck!! If they do they are a true ignorant hack!!!
There have been several times that I have driven around and seen these “splash- and-dashers” washing someone’s home. I would stop in and talk to “splashers” only to find five gallons of Clorox bleach sitting beside their piece-of-crap pressure washer. I would ask them what detergent they were using and they would respond by pointing to the bleach. I would reiterate to them that the bleach does nothing more than hide the dirt. They respond with “my uncle is a painter, and that is all he ever uses” or “I don’t care, I’m getting paid, I’m out of here and won’t be around next year to hear their complaints”.
I try to educate these “splashers” and tell them that they should get properly trained and certified and join a nationally recognized organization that will better them in the long run, however they are just in it for the quick buck and are not looking for a long term relationship with you, the homeowner .
“The quality will remain when the price is forgotten”
“The rich are rich because they buy based on value not on price. Price is how much you pay for something. Value is measured in much you lose when you buy things that don‟t work. Problem is most people confuse „low price‟ with good value – they are not the same. In fact, they are often mutually exclusive!”
Not So Common Wisdom
Making Hiring Decision Based Only on Price
Did you ever hear the expression “you get what you pay for”? Well in every contractor job this is true. You will get a low ball quote from some “fly-by-nighter” who does not remotely understand what it entails to get the job done right.
Unfortunately, the power washing industry is plagued with these “fly-by-nighters” or “Splash-and- Dashers” that think that because they have an “Elcheepo-Depot” pressure washer that they know how to power wash. Most of them have the improper tools for the job and they believe that bleach actually cleans without damaging anything.
You can usually find these “fly-by-nighters” signs nailed to telephone poles throughout your neighborhood. I actually saw one of these signs nailed to a telephone pole that was on private property with “NO TRESSPASSING” signs and a fence around it. What does that tell you about the ethics of that person?
Here are some questions to ask:
Are they certified or do they have any type of license for the type of job that they are doing?
Do they have the proper knowledge of their equipment and the cleaning process?
Do they use a mold inhibitor to protect your home and neutralize the cleaning products?
Do they require you to pay cash or write the check out in their name?
Are they doing the job legally?
Do they have insurance?
Do they have a business license?
Do they offer a guarantee?
How much $liability$ are you exposing yourself to?
I have found that hiring the low bidder only causes headaches. What happens if you are not happy with the job, are they going to come back? (LOL). No, they are gone with your money because they are a one time employee. They will come out, do a half-assed job, and expect you to pay them in cash, only never to see them again.
If you have ever seen one of those home shows on TV about contractor nightmares you will always hear them say to hire the right person for the job the first time and you will not have any problems. They always say make sure they have insurance, licenses, guarantees, and are going to be there when you need them.
Not Asking to See Important Documents (Like Proof of License and Insurance)
90% of homeowners do not ask if a power-washer is insured. They do not ask because they assume that they are. They also assume that “it is only water, what harm can it cause”.
As a former Insurance broker for 13 years, this is one of the most important questions to ask the professional power washer or any contractor for that matter. Homeowners have been financially harmed by uninsured or inadequately insured power washers.
Never ever hire an uninsured power washer.
A homeowner opens themselves up for a lawsuit if a person is harmed on their property. If a power- washer falls for instance off a ladder or roof and they did not carry the proper insurance, you as the homeowner will be liable. Most homeowner insurance policies exclude outside contractors, and will not pay out for a claim submitted for an injury to the contractor. Therefore, you the homeowner, will be liable. It is absolutely critical to be certain that they have the proper and adequate insurance.
The proper and adequate insurance entails the following:
You should ask the power washer for a certificate of insurance for Liability and Workman’s Compensation. Make sure that they have adequate coverage.
Be careful of the power washer that tries to show you a copy of their auto policy or their health insurance policy as their insurance coverage. Do not be confused by these policies and definitely do not let the supposed contractor pass them off as his proof of insurance.
Do not be afraid to ask for the name and telephone number of their insurance agency or companies to verify said coverage. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Any reputable contractor will be happy to provide you with such information.
A certain sign of an uninsured or an inadequately insured power washer is the low bid. Be very wary of the low bid. In this day and age, insurance to protect the property of the homeowner and the workers is a large portion of the power washing bid. For example, Worker’s Compensation premiums are typically 20% of the wage of the employee and can go as high as 100% of the wage of the employee depending on the proposed job. A “splash-and-dasher” working without insurance may save you some money; however, he puts you and your family’s financial security at risk.
Again, a professional power-washer will happily and readily give you the name and telephone numbers of their insurance agency and company for verification.
The professional power washer will also carry a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each and every product on board, which will provide a break-down of each product and explain the hazards that they present.
In 2014 I was asked to be an expert witness in a house fire that happened in Kingston. The Power Washer used bleach on wood shingles, thinking he was cleaning them did not rinse the house properly, the bleach corroded an electrical box on the house and the first storm water entered the box and caused a fire and the house was a total loss.
Being in the insurance business for over 13 years, I have seen first-hand some of the hardships that people have gone through due to uninsured contractors, don’t be that homeowner!
NEVER ever hire a power washer that is improperly insured or uninsured.
Receiving Quotes Over the Telephone
If any power washing business gives you a quote over the telephone, run, do not walk – RUN, especially if you hear the words “I can probably” or “it will be around”.
Giving a quote over the telephone is like having your doctor diagnose you over the telephone. A power-washer should always come to your home, walk around the perimeter of the home, take measurements, and most importantly ask you, the homeowner, what you want done, and what would make you happy. The final outcome of the job should bring you happiness and joy of homeownership. You would never ever expect your primary care physician to diagnose you over the telephone and worse, prescribe medication without first seeing you and diagnosing the problem. Therefore, never ever allow a power-washer or a contractor for that matter “diagnose” your home over the telephone. It is immoral, unethical, and should be outlawed.
I can guarantee you that companies that give you quotes over the telephone will be the “Splash-and- Dashers”, the “Fly-by-Nighter”, or they do not want you to meet them prior to doing the job because of their appearance and lack of professionalism. They are the ones who are not insured, not a reputable company, and will not be around next year.
This may sound harsh but it is a strong belief for me and our company. I have seen it all too often when someone gets a low-ball quote from a “Splash-and-Dasher” and when they get to your home they double the price because they did not know about something like “you didn’t tell me you wanted all four sides of your house cleaned, that’s going to be extra” or they finish the job and then give you a bill for twice what they quoted you over the phone because there was no written estimate. Or even worse they do not even do a proper job. You get a bad quote and a bad job.
Getting back to the written estimate, you should always get a written estimate from any contractor. Most quality power washing contractors will offer you a free estimate. Free estimates are a great way for you to get to meet the power washing contractor, to test their knowledge and to see their professionalism first hand, with no obligations. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions or talk about any concerns you may have.
The free written estimate protects you from any over-charges or surprise and lets you know exactly what work is to be performed.
Again, I cannot urge you strongly enough to get a written estimate in person.
Not Verifying Proper Training and Certifications
How do you know if the power washing company you hire has the knowledge or experience to properly clean your home be it either vinyl or wood, restore your deck to like new or clean your awnings or walkways?
Although power washers currently do not need to have a state license, it is appropriate and highly recommended that you, the homeowner, ask the power- washer for proof of certification.
Do not be fooled if they respond with “it is not necessary to be certified in power washing”. This should send up a red flag to you, revealing that they again, are the “splash-and-dashers” or the “fly-by- nighters”.
In North America there are very few companies that offer certification for power- washers. It is very expensive to become certified in this industry because there is no local training facility in Massachusetts or the New England states. Therefore you have to travel out of state and spend five to seven days completing the training program, testing material and becoming certified. You can be assured that when you hire a certified company, you are hiring a complete professional that will get the job done in the most professional way possible and with no headaches to you.
When you choose a certified power washer you can be assured that you will be dealing with a qualified, reputable, and dependable professional contractor, not some “splash-and-dasher” or “fly-by-nighter”.
East Coast Power Washing employees and owners are trained by certified professionals and have certificates in House Washing, Roof Cleaning, Wood Restoration, Fleet Washing, Environmental Cleaning and
Even though it is not required I have a Massachusetts Construction Supervisor’s License. What does this mean for you; well being a state licensed contractor we are held to a higher standard. We can spot troubled areas on your home while we are inspecting the house for a free estimate, we can also fix any of the home’s rot, damage, or problems the house may have. Also being licensed and insured contractors, we can pull any permits required by the town to repair your home.
Automatically reject any contractor that does not have any kind of certification. Do not let them fool you by saying that a certification is not required or that there is no such thing. A better question to ask them is if they are members of a trade association. If they are you can call or go online to verify that they are.
Not Asking for a Written SATISFACTION GUARANTEE
Automatically reject any contractor who blows you off or any of your questions or concerns. There are probably a lot of other issues they deem unimportant and will blow off, maybe one being your satisfaction.
Why should you have to pay for a job that you are not satisfied with? I know that not all power washing companies offer a guarantee and if they do it may be limited. Please do not be afraid to ask if they offer a money back guarantee. However, the power washers that do offer a guarantee are very proud and will be telling you about it before you ask, and they will include the guarantee on all written estimates.
East Coast Powerwashing offers a simple no hassle guarantee that states
“If for some reason you are not completely satisfied with the power washing job we do, we will rewash the area for FREE! If you are still not satisfied, you pay nothing.”
Because of our unique cleaning process we also offer a one year mold and mildew guarantee to painted and vinyl homes that states “If mold or mildew grows on your home that was cleaned and protected by East Coast Powerwashing and it can not be washed off with a garden hose we will re- wash the area for FREE”.
Many power washing companies do not guarantee their work and I know of no other company that offers a mold and mildew guarantee which is not a gimmick, but a testament to the quality and uniqueness of our cleaning process.
We feel nothing is more important than your complete and total satisfaction of our work. Daniel Galvin Founder and Owner, East Coast Powerwashing Inc
Words of Appreciation from Raving Fans
“It was just so easy”
I just wanted to say that I loved the process. It was just so easy. All I had to do was make sure my windows were closed. The guys were professional and very courteous. And the best part was, that there was no damage to anything. The last power washer I had really screwed things up. I am just so happy you made it so smooth and easy. What a nice experience.
Sue & Tom R Plymouth MA.
“You told me what you were going to do and you did it”
I couldn’t believe it. You told me what you were going to do and you did it. I was absolutely blown away by how quick, easy you made the job look and the results “WOW” Thank you for going that extra mile!
Andrea P Hyannis MA.
“I was burned before”
It’s been a really long time since I’ve trusted someone to work on my home, I was burned before. I just have had a really hard time trusting people, but I was just thrilled working with you. You explained what you were going to do and then did more than I expected. The house hasn’t looked this good in years.
Cathy M Centerville MA
“East Coast Makes It Easy”
I have so much going on and just felt so overwhelmed with everything I had to do, I am so glad that I called you. East Coast makes it so easy to get the job done. Thanks for being such a positive, encouraging energy that keeps me going.
Jeanie C Duxbury MA
East Coast Powerwashing, Inc.
Proud member and supporter of the
Power Washers of North America
East Coast Powerwashing, Inc. is a Proud Member of the Better Business Bureau www.BBB.com
And don’t forget that every time you do business with East Coast Powerwashing, your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed!
I look forward to meeting you,
Daniel Galvin Founder and Owner
East Coast Powerwashing Inc
P.O. Box 183 Buzzards Bay, MA. 02532
If there is anything, even a small thing, that you are currently not getting with you current power washing service, please do me a favor and give me a call right now, at my private number,508-642-8795, and let me know what it will take to end your frustration! If possible, I will go out of my way to help you - because I want your business! Call me right now, Jake Mowles, Owner.
Serving South Shore -Plymouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Hanover, Marshfield, Scituate, Cohassett, Hingham, Weymouth, Braintree, Cape Cod - Bourne, Sandwhich, Hyannis, Wareham and more and Boston Massachusetts