The answer is all 3 – at some point throughout the process. Actually painting the building will “cost” money in the beginning. However I prefer to view it as an investment because it will bring returns and benefits in the future. Painting the building saves money because paint is a protective coating when applied by professionals using professional grade products. It keeps wood from rotting, seals concrete, stucco, and tilt wall panels, and protects metal from rust. Without painting these items you’ll need to replace them sooner and unfortunately sometimes you cannot find exact replacements to match existing conditions which increases the cost by replacing everything or obtaining custom replacements.
Painting can make you money in numerous ways – a freshly painted building is inviting to customers and prospective clients, building maintenance costs are pushed further out – thus lowering the cost of yearly maintenance, certain colors can actually promote spending more money, increasing productivity, and improving attitudes. Another example is painting the exposed ceiling deck in industrial buildings – increases the light reflectivity value, lowers electricity cost, increases productivity, lowers the strain on employee eyes, and improves quality. All from painting the ceiling.
When you look at it closely – the only time painting costs money – is when you don’t do it for a number of years.