This article with comments was terrific - it was so informative. I found the advice useful. It addressed specifics like the condition of the dry wall surfaces, any additional repairs such. pin holes, chalking, smoothing of wall surfaces, absorption of paint and number of coats that may be needed. It should also include insurance coverage, and reflect the clean-up afterwards. Having a written contract with the company's letterhead is a must.
Thanks, all, for your time & efforts adding to the article & comments, especially Dave urging requesting both General Liability AND Worker Compensation insurance certificates to protect from real & fraudulent liability--from my experience especially in California, where insurance fraud is a popular income thief, even causing car collisions to collect.
If you are going to hire a contractor (professional painter) give a room by room punch list of the fixing of holes small or big, have it identified for the painter to tell you if you need a drywall finisher or if he does this type of work good. Wall repairs can be 3-5 steps to do repairs ( one per day for good drying of patching material and a good sanding) this is what gives you a good paint job only using high quality paint.
If less than half the old paint is left, however, it may be worth stripping it all off. Guertin gets rid of stubborn remnants using shrouded grinders (like the PaintShaver), infrared paint strippers (such as the Speedheater), or chemical strippers (like Multi-Strip), then smooths the wood with a course or two of sanding. When siding (or bank accounts) can't take the shock of a total strip job, Rich O'Neil, of Masterwork Painting in Bedford, Massachusetts, has successfully hidden rough, well-adhered paint under Peel Bond, a thick primer.

I have a Home Improvement/Painting business, and Angie's List always advertises that that everyone is out to get them. Of course there are people who try to take advantage of homeowners My reputation and repeat business is based on word of mouth. Shoddy work is always a way to get put out of business quick. As far as strictly painting, preparation is a big factor in getting a quality paint job. If you don't prepare the surfaces you are painting you are spinning your wheels, and wasting money, no matter what paint you use. Getting a deposit from a customer is beneficial, but not always necessary. Sometimes it is a godsend, when you get stuck by the customer, which has happened to me more than once
These days, it seems like anyone with a paintbrush and a business card can call themselves a painting contractor. Homeowners who are most likely to be taken in by these unscrupulous “painters” are those who are focused on cost and cost alone. With painting, like anything else in life, you typically get what you pay for. If the painting contractor you are considering cannot answer these ten questions, proceed at your own risk. If they answer all ten satisfactorily, then you know you’ve found a great great professional contractor to work with.
I'm hiring an interior painter and that is why I was reading this comment list. I'm concerned about your comment about Angie's List. Some of us don't have personal recommendations for tradespersons, and rely on sites like this. Are you saying that Angie's List's reviews are not complete or that they do not print some of the negative reviews? It's hard to know what to do - I have not been able to find a person who just had their paint done so I can ask him/her about the quality of the painter.
Painters with bad reputations can avoid the problem of reference checks by giving their customers lists of relatives and friends.  The people will say great things, and the customer won’t be the wiser.  The best way to avoid this smoke and mirror trick is to ask specific questions about the project. If the reference seems hesitant, doesn’t know the details, or gives sketchy responses, be skeptical. 
Skip the do-overs and pick the perfect paint color the first time around. No matter what space, shade, or aesthetic you're looking for, we've got ideas. And then we've got some more ideas. We compiled all our best paint color advice in one place to make it even easier. By the time you're done with this story, you'll have your paint woes all solved.

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