Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

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CobraKai
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Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 am

I have a few trees that I need cut down. One is approx 25 ft, the other is 40, and other is around 50. I was quoted 1400 by one contractor for all three. That doesn't seem like a bad price. I did forget to ask whether stump removal was included.

He said they can start within the next day or two, claiming they will likely have a backlog of calls when the rain is finished in a couple days and seemed to insinuate that I should act now. Maybe he was trying to lock me in before I get other estimates? I have an estimate with a different company scheduled for Friday.

He did provide me with insurance information (both liability and workman's comp), which I can call and verify. He did not give me a written estimate, just verbal. Should I require a written estimate? Are there any other questions I should be asking?

------------------------
UPDATE (5/10/19)
------------------------
I went ahead and received three estimates. Two were in the same ballpark (1400 for removal plus another 300 for stump grinding). Another estimate was 1000 for BOTH removal and stump grinding. Too good to be true? After asking him to send me an estimate, I noticed there is no workman's comp coverage on the certificate (although there is liability up to 300k). His estimate says that he has workman's comp though. I think he either works by himself or has a business partner that accompanies him so that may be why he has no workman's comp. He left a message this morning asking if I made a decision yet, but I'm a bit leery of the lack of workman's comp, even with his price significantly less. Is workman's comp not required if the business owner(s) work on the job themselves and this means there is no coverage if there is an injury?
Last edited by CobraKai on Fri May 10, 2019 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DXG1987
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by DXG1987 » Wed May 01, 2019 11:05 am

Yes, you should check to see if you city/town requires any permit to remove trees.

For example, my city requires residents obtain a permit to remove any tree over 24 inches in circumference. Once an application for a permit is filed, the town posts a notice on the property and sends an arborist to the property to determine if the "tree is a canopy tree." The notice has to be posted for at least a week.

If the tree is a "canopy tree" and is not "dying, dead, in danger of falling" the town requires "an impact fee of $750 per tree" before the tree can be removed.

This sort of regulation, if applicable in your town, could result in a significant fine if you don't comply in advance. I would call the city/town and find out what the rules are in your area.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:12 am

DXG1987 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:05 am
Yes, you should check to see if you city/town requires any permit to remove trees.

For example, my city requires residents obtain a permit to remove any tree over 24 inches in circumference. Once an application for a permit is filed, the town posts a notice on the property and sends an arborist to the property to determine if the "tree is a canopy tree." The notice has to be posted for at least a week.

If the tree is a "canopy tree" and is not "dying, dead, in danger of falling" the town requires "an impact fee of $750 per tree" before the tree can be removed.

This sort of regulation, if applicable in your town, could result in a significant fine if you don't comply in advance. I would call the city/town and find out what the rules are in your area.
That is outrageous! Fortunately there is nothing like that where I am.

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Will do good
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Will do good » Wed May 01, 2019 11:16 am

If your city require a permit, get it.

Get the estimate in writing, get 3 estimates is better. Do they remove all the down trees and grid the stubs away?

If the trees are close to your house (our giant tree was hang over the house), we wanted to know they are license and bonds with our village in case they drop a big piece onto the house and we need to file a claim. Our guy is a arborist and use a tall lift to cut the high piece to make sure nothing fall on to our house. We pay double your fee for 1 tree.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Sidney » Wed May 01, 2019 11:31 am

DXG1987 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:05 am
Yes, you should check to see if you city/town requires any permit to remove trees.
Good point. We have to get approval for basically anything bigger than your little finger. That includes dead trees as well unless the dead tree is deemed by a certified tree service as likely to cause imminent property damage or personal injury. There are a few services that have decision authority delegated by the county to approve removal in some situations.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:32 am

Will do good wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:16 am
If your city require a permit, get it.

Get the estimate in writing, get 3 estimates is better. Do they remove all the down trees and grid the stubs away?
Yes although I have the option to have it cut into firewood.

TheMadEph
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by TheMadEph » Wed May 01, 2019 12:35 pm

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:12 am
DXG1987 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:05 am
Yes, you should check to see if you city/town requires any permit to remove trees.

For example, my city requires residents obtain a permit to remove any tree over 24 inches in circumference. Once an application for a permit is filed, the town posts a notice on the property and sends an arborist to the property to determine if the "tree is a canopy tree." The notice has to be posted for at least a week.

If the tree is a "canopy tree" and is not "dying, dead, in danger of falling" the town requires "an impact fee of $750 per tree" before the tree can be removed.

This sort of regulation, if applicable in your town, could result in a significant fine if you don't comply in advance. I would call the city/town and find out what the rules are in your area.
That is outrageous! Fortunately there is nothing like that where I am.
Definitely check on permits. And depending on where you live its not really outrageous at all. It is merely a city treating "canopy trees" as a public good (carbon recapture, heat reduction, natural beauty, etc.), and the removal of them would reasonably effect the neighborhood/city.
Cities have all sorts of rules like this - Seattle, for example, mandates cutting some privately owned trees to preserve views, as they have determined that the views are a public good as well. Just part and parcel of living in a city with neighbors/neighborhoods/other people.

I would also mark the trees myself heavily with paint and stakes. If you do choose to get firewood make sure you give them very specific direction of size of logs you want. They should buck the normal logs for you obvs (and remove the small stuff, unless you want it chipped/shredded), but if they leave huge chunks of the lower trunk (2-3 foot diameter) those can be super hard to split yourself. Neighbor of mine still has about 10 pieces like that left over in their yard (a month later) because they are super heavy to move and difficult to split.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by pochax » Wed May 01, 2019 12:47 pm

i recently had a multiple-tree project that included:
- removal of one fallen tree after a storm (~100-ft pine) without removal of the stump
- removal of four 80-100 ft standing pines with grinding of stumps
- planting of five 10 ft pines (which should not grow >50 ft) to replace the ones taken down
total cost was $4000.
no permit obtained (not sure i need one from the town - probably should've checked although i've had fallen trees removed before without incident or citation). received 2 estimates, both verbal, and went with the lower one, although they were comparable. have not received my final bill yet but i have dealt with this tree service before and he has never deviated from the verbal quote.

Good luck.

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Chicken lady
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Chicken lady » Wed May 01, 2019 12:52 pm

You've received good advice. Having trees cut can be hard on your property.

Find out if they'll climb the trees to cut from the top down or will they drive a large truck to the tree so they stand in a bucket while cutting? Trucks can leave you with ruts in your yard that will have to be filled, patched, etc.

The amount of mess that can be left behind from having trees cut can be considerable. Make sure that cleaning up your property (completely) is part of the deal. Don't make an assumption.

Get the estimate in writing - even if it's only on the back of the sawyer's business card. Ask around for recommendations from others in your community - do you have a hipxxxx facebook page for your community? Though I'm not a fan of facebook, our community has a hip(add your community name here) page that locals drop in and ask questions about who can be recommened for this, that or the next thing. You'll see a pattern of the companies/people who have done work and left satisfied customers behind.

Marking what you want cut is essential for logs - for branches you should be able to tell them a dimension (just be sure to make it a bit less than what you really want since they'll be eyeballing the size and doing this on the fly).

You can get twigs and small branches and all the rest chipped and left in a pile for later use.

Good luck.

Wellfleet
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Wellfleet » Wed May 01, 2019 12:55 pm

Always get a written estimate. I actually have a preference for contractors who are smaller outfits and are less formal- unmarked trucks, etc., but they all provide written estimates.

I’ve never had a contractor reject work after I got other quotes.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by eucalyptus » Wed May 01, 2019 1:02 pm

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:12 am
DXG1987 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:05 am
Yes, you should check to see if you city/town requires any permit to remove trees.

For example, my city requires residents obtain a permit to remove any tree over 24 inches in circumference. Once an application for a permit is filed, the town posts a notice on the property and sends an arborist to the property to determine if the "tree is a canopy tree." The notice has to be posted for at least a week.

If the tree is a "canopy tree" and is not "dying, dead, in danger of falling" the town requires "an impact fee of $750 per tree" before the tree can be removed.

This sort of regulation, if applicable in your town, could result in a significant fine if you don't comply in advance. I would call the city/town and find out what the rules are in your area.
That is outrageous! Fortunately there is nothing like that where I am.

Indeed it is outrageous. It has nothing to do with canopy trees in many cities. The effect is often to prevent the removal of any trees at all, unless they are dead or dying. Trees hanging perilously over your house or power lines, the tree you planted too close to your house that now crowds the chimney, trees growing so close to one another that none can flourish - in one major city at least, none of these can be removed. Fine is $500 for the first tree, $1000 for each subsequent tree, PLUS a recompense that can easily add another $500-$1500.

So, check your local tree ordinances.
Last edited by eucalyptus on Wed May 01, 2019 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Murgatroyd » Wed May 01, 2019 1:04 pm

As someone with a couple acres of BIG trees, the bid sounds fine. Likely does not include stump removal. You must investigate this company. Typically tree removal specialists will leave your yard the way they found it. But a lot of tree cutting is done by landscapers who will move on when done. Check Angie’s List and google to see if they’ve torn up anyone’s yard. Another bid or two is worthwhile.

Regarding stumps, if the trees are in visible parts of the yard, have them done. If they are not as noticeable there are good organic ways of helping them deteriorate that is a lot cheaper.

likegarden
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by likegarden » Wed May 01, 2019 1:18 pm

I live in a medium COL area which has suburb type housing. The $1400 or a little more we would pay too here. The tree company we always hire has experienced people, can not drive large trucks into my fenced-in backyard, carries out everything, never has dropped and damaged anything, and leaves my yard having removed all pieces of branches and cut-off wood. They are raking the area clean actually.

HomeStretch
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by HomeStretch » Wed May 01, 2019 1:26 pm

Great price for 3 trees of that size. I’d get it in writing so you know what it does and does not include (i.e., cut down trees, remove wood from property or stack on property, stump removal, lawn repair, etc.). Don’t pay in full until all the work is done. I got stiffed once when contractor didn’t return to remove stump.

+1 on calling to verify insurance is in force and checking whether town permit/permission is needed. In my town, if the tree will be removed using a bucket truck or crane at curbside, the homeowner has to pay for police officer to handle traffic safety at a cost of $2000/day, 1/2 day minimum charge.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by celia » Wed May 01, 2019 1:33 pm

The contractor probably needs a city business license too. If you are in a city that requires that and you are the first customer of the year, the contractor may or may not put the cost of the license on your bill (for example, if they only do one or two jobs in your city each year). Try to avoid paying for their cost of doing business.

Unless you already have over a dozen large trees on your property, I would also consider why you are removing them as they usually add value to your property and the local environment. Valid reasons for removing a tree are if they are dead or causing infrastructure damage or health issues (allergies?), or likely to fall. Even a tree with pests can sometimes be treated to get rid of the pest and be brought back to good health. The best preventive care is to keep the tress healthy by regular watering and occasional plant food/organic mulch decomposing underneath the canopy.

That reminds me. I need to put a soaker hose under my trees right now.

t885
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by t885 » Wed May 01, 2019 2:13 pm

Don't over think it. You are having a couple of trees cut down not open heart surgery.

$1,400 is a very good price to have three trees cut down and removed. My only concern would be a valid insurance certficate from the contractor.
There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by casualflower » Wed May 01, 2019 3:40 pm

One more thing to add is to make sure the trees are 100% on your property. You don't want to cut down a tree and it turns out it belonged to your neighbor. "Tree law" is real.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by jebmke » Wed May 01, 2019 3:49 pm

A lot of the cost involves the equipment so often the cost per tree can be high if you have only 2-3.

We just had 25 mature spruce trees removed last year. Including grinding the stumps it was around $5K. Once they have the equipment on site they can rip through multiple trees pretty quickly if they aren't in a tricky place.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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dm200
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by dm200 » Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 am
I have a few trees that I need cut down. One is approx 25 ft, the other is 40, and other is around 50. I was quoted 1400 by one contractor for all three. That doesn't seem like a bad price. I did forget to ask whether stump removal was included.
He said they can start within the next day or two, claiming they will likely have a backlog of calls when the rain is finished in a couple days and seemed to insinuate that I should act now. Maybe he was trying to lock me in before I get other estimates? I have an estimate with a different company scheduled for Friday.
He did provide me with insurance information (both liability and workman's comp), which I can call and verify. He did not give me a written estimate, just verbal. Should I require a written estimate? Are there any other questions I should be asking?
1. If your jurisdiction licenses these folks, nake sure company is kicensed
2. If not licensed (perhaps even if it is) - verify liability insurance AND workers comp
3. Check some references
4. Tell your neighbors ahead of time - if they are close
5. BE THERE and watch the work being done.
6. Based on my experience - seems like a good price. We did not get stump removed, but they did 100% cleanup and hauled everything away.
7. Yes - get quote/estimate in writing - specifying all that is to be done

Cody6136
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Cody6136 » Wed May 01, 2019 4:00 pm

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 am
I have a few trees that I need cut down. One is approx 25 ft, the other is 40, and other is around 50. I was quoted 1400 by one contractor for all three. That doesn't seem like a bad price. I did forget to ask whether stump removal was included.

He said they can start within the next day or two, claiming they will likely have a backlog of calls when the rain is finished in a couple days and seemed to insinuate that I should act now. Maybe he was trying to lock me in before I get other estimates? I have an estimate with a different company scheduled for Friday.

He did provide me with insurance information (both liability and workman's comp), which I can call and verify. He did not give me a written estimate, just verbal. Should I require a written estimate? Are there any other questions I should be asking?
Chip on site or remove as logs? This is a key question. I had a lot of trees taken down and they chipped and shredded and left on site as mulch and I saved big fat dollars that way. And that is how I roll, saving big dollars as I go.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by kaneohe » Wed May 01, 2019 9:51 pm

Very useful tips! Thanks. Anyone ever had work done on a tree with CATV and phone lines running "thru" the branches. Do you need to have the CATV/phone companies move the lines or these tree guys good enough to cut the branches w/o damage to the incoming lines?
Do the companies charge you if they have to move the lines?

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by MP123 » Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 pm

kaneohe wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:51 pm
Very useful tips! Thanks. Anyone ever had work done on a tree with CATV and phone lines running "thru" the branches. Do you need to have the CATV/phone companies move the lines or these tree guys good enough to cut the branches w/o damage to the incoming lines?
Do the companies charge you if they have to move the lines?
As with most things: it depends.

In my case I had a large (100ft+) Doug Fir taken down that was in power and CATV lines. They sent a climber up and tied off each limb before cutting and roped it down, then cut the tree into 18" sections and pushed them off working their way down. Everything landed right in place, amazing to watch. No need to shut off the power lines or move anything.

Not a job for amateurs either...

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by kaneohe » Wed May 01, 2019 10:43 pm

MP123 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 pm
kaneohe wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:51 pm
Very useful tips! Thanks. Anyone ever had work done on a tree with CATV and phone lines running "thru" the branches. Do you need to have the CATV/phone companies move the lines or these tree guys good enough to cut the branches w/o damage to the incoming lines?
Do the companies charge you if they have to move the lines?
As with most things: it depends.

In my case I had a large (100ft+) Doug Fir taken down that was in power and CATV lines. They sent a climber up and tied off each limb before cutting and roped it down, then cut the tree into 18" sections and pushed them off working their way down. Everything landed right in place, amazing to watch. No need to shut off the power lines or move anything.

Not a job for amateurs either...
thanks! remember a ballpark price?

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by 123 » Wed May 01, 2019 10:51 pm

Chicken lady wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:52 pm
...Find out if they'll climb the trees to cut from the top down or will they drive a large truck to the tree so they stand in a bucket while cutting? Trucks can leave you with ruts in your yard that will have to be filled, patched, etc....
Large trucks can also cause septic system tanks/components to collapse or develop problems. If you're on a public sewer system likely not an issue.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:28 pm

TheMadEph wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:35 pm
I would also mark the trees myself heavily with paint and stakes. If you do choose to get firewood make sure you give them very specific direction of size of logs you want. They should buck the normal logs for you obvs (and remove the small stuff, unless you want it chipped/shredded), but if they leave huge chunks of the lower trunk (2-3 foot diameter) those can be super hard to split yourself. Neighbor of mine still has about 10 pieces like that left over in their yard (a month later) because they are super heavy to move and difficult to split.
Good points. Two of the trees are pine. I'm debating whether to keep the wood or have them haul it away. I have a wood stove but have heard that pine is not good to burn in one, and works better for outdoor bonfires. I rarely ever burn outside tho. I have a nearby relatives that does so perhaps he could use it.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:33 pm

Chicken lady wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:52 pm
You've received good advice. Having trees cut can be hard on your property.

Find out if they'll climb the trees to cut from the top down or will they drive a large truck to the tree so they stand in a bucket while cutting? Trucks can leave you with ruts in your yard that will have to be filled, patched, etc.
They would be using a bucket truck. Fortunately, the trees are close enough to the driveway where the truck/stand can sit on the driveway.
Chicken lady wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:52 pm
The amount of mess that can be left behind from having trees cut can be considerable. Make sure that cleaning up your property (completely) is part of the deal. Don't make an assumption.
He said they would clean up everything except for the wood that I keep. I will need to have him put it in writing though.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:35 pm

Wellfleet wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:55 pm
Always get a written estimate. I actually have a preference for contractors who are smaller outfits and are less formal- unmarked trucks, etc., but they all provide written estimates.

I’ve never had a contractor reject work after I got other quotes.
If I go with this particular contractor, I'll have to have him put it in writing.

Do any of you feel bad when someone spends time (and gas money) giving you a free estimate and you choose not to do business with them? :)

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:36 pm

Murgatroyd wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 1:04 pm
As someone with a couple acres of BIG trees, the bid sounds fine. Likely does not include stump removal. You must investigate this company. Typically tree removal specialists will leave your yard the way they found it. But a lot of tree cutting is done by landscapers who will move on when done. Check Angie’s List and google to see if they’ve torn up anyone’s yard. Another bid or two is worthwhile.

Regarding stumps, if the trees are in visible parts of the yard, have them done. If they are not as noticeable there are good organic ways of helping them deteriorate that is a lot cheaper.
Just about all of their Google reviews were 5 star except for a couple who complained that their phone calls weren't responded to as quick as they wanted.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:37 pm

celia wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 1:33 pm
Unless you already have over a dozen large trees on your property, I would also consider why you are removing them as they usually add value to your property and the local environment. Valid reasons for removing a tree are if they are dead or causing infrastructure damage or health issues (allergies?), or likely to fall. Even a tree with pests can sometimes be treated to get rid of the pest and be brought back to good health. The best preventive care is to keep the tress healthy by regular watering and occasional plant food/organic mulch decomposing underneath the canopy.

That reminds me. I need to put a soaker hose under my trees right now.
They are dead.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:38 pm

HomeStretch wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 1:26 pm
Great price for 3 trees of that size. I’d get it in writing so you know what it does and does not include (i.e., cut down trees, remove wood from property or stack on property, stump removal, lawn repair, etc.). Don’t pay in full until all the work is done. I got stiffed once when contractor didn’t return to remove stump.

+1 on calling to verify insurance is in force and checking whether town permit/permission is needed. In my town, if the tree will be removed using a bucket truck or crane at curbside, the homeowner has to pay for police officer to handle traffic safety at a cost of $2000/day, 1/2 day minimum charge.
I didn't even think of that. There is one tree near the road. I think they can cut a branch and then pull into the driveway but will have to check to verify.

How much is typically paid up front in a job like this?

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:39 pm

metrunt wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:40 pm
One more thing to add is to make sure the trees are 100% on your property. You don't want to cut down a tree and it turns out it belonged to your neighbor. "Tree law" is real.

They are

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:41 pm

jebmke wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:49 pm
A lot of the cost involves the equipment so often the cost per tree can be high if you have only 2-3.
True. He only added a couple hundred to the original 1200 quote when I requested the third tree be cut as well. It I cheaped out and only had two cut (the third is dying but not completely dead) then I'm sure that tree would cost a lot more to cut another time.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:44 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
3. Check some references
How do you get references? Find reviews online and contact them?
dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
5. BE THERE and watch the work being done.
Stand there and watch them the whole time? Is this to make sure the job is done right? I figured they would do the job on a weekday on a day that I normally work, although I could take a day off of work or see if they can do the work on one of my off days.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 01, 2019 11:47 pm

Cody6136 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 4:00 pm
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 am
I have a few trees that I need cut down. One is approx 25 ft, the other is 40, and other is around 50. I was quoted 1400 by one contractor for all three. That doesn't seem like a bad price. I did forget to ask whether stump removal was included.

He said they can start within the next day or two, claiming they will likely have a backlog of calls when the rain is finished in a couple days and seemed to insinuate that I should act now. Maybe he was trying to lock me in before I get other estimates? I have an estimate with a different company scheduled for Friday.

He did provide me with insurance information (both liability and workman's comp), which I can call and verify. He did not give me a written estimate, just verbal. Should I require a written estimate? Are there any other questions I should be asking?
Chip on site or remove as logs? This is a key question. I had a lot of trees taken down and they chipped and shredded and left on site as mulch and I saved big fat dollars that way. And that is how I roll, saving big dollars as I go.
You know, I didn't even think of that. I will have the non-pine tree cut up as firewood. I was debating whether to keep the pine as firewood or have it removed. I could possibly use mulch for landscaping purposes.
Last edited by CobraKai on Wed May 01, 2019 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SevenBridgesRoad
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by SevenBridgesRoad » Wed May 01, 2019 11:47 pm

Maybe I missed it in other responses, but if you are in an HOA you might need to get board approval. Check your CC&R's or call the HOA management company or a board member.
Retired 2018 | Every day I choose how I spend my energy | One Vanguard TDF except for bunch of individual stocks...still recovering from my Fidelity AUM days years ago | Now sleeping well at night

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 02, 2019 12:02 am

SevenBridgesRoad wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:47 pm
Maybe I missed it in other responses, but if you are in an HOA you might need to get board approval. Check your CC&R's or call the HOA management company or a board member.
Not an issue but thanks anyway.

HomeStretch
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by HomeStretch » Thu May 02, 2019 5:26 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:38 pm
How much is typically paid up front in a job like this?
I pay $0 upfront. I am onsite when the work is done so if a small contractor requires a check upon completion, I pay after work is 100% completed.

If the trees are near any irrigation system components, i flag those and let the tree company know where the outdoor shutoff is in case of accidental damage.

Wellfleet
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Wellfleet » Thu May 02, 2019 6:17 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:35 pm
Wellfleet wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:55 pm
Always get a written estimate. I actually have a preference for contractors who are smaller outfits and are less formal- unmarked trucks, etc., but they all provide written estimates.

I’ve never had a contractor reject work after I got other quotes.
If I go with this particular contractor, I'll have to have him put it in writing.

Do any of you feel bad when someone spends time (and gas money) giving you a free estimate and you choose not to do business with them? :)
I do not feel bad. Sales for any business costs money.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Nowizard » Thu May 02, 2019 6:51 am

Obviously, the location of the tree has an impact on price, but it sounds like you received a very reasonable estimate for trees that can be felled directly and without much, if any, climbing to top. A significant cost is hidden in this kind of work, that being the dumping fee for the contractor. Some have their own property, mulch limbs, etc., others use commercial dumps that can be a substantial distance from the job and require a relatively significant, dumping fee. He showed you his bond and insurance, and we certainly do not have outrageous requirements for permits in our own yard. Stump grinding varies from people who drive around knocking on doors and want $30 a stump to people who are with larger tree cutting businesses who will want substantially more. If you want them to haul off the mulch created by the grinding, that will add to the cost.

Tim

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dm200
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by dm200 » Thu May 02, 2019 7:48 am

Wellfleet wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 6:17 am
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:35 pm
Wellfleet wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:55 pm
Always get a written estimate. I actually have a preference for contractors who are smaller outfits and are less formal- unmarked trucks, etc., but they all provide written estimates.
I’ve never had a contractor reject work after I got other quotes.
If I go with this particular contractor, I'll have to have him put it in writing.
Do any of you feel bad when someone spends time (and gas money) giving you a free estimate and you choose not to do business with them? :)
I do not feel bad. Sales for any business costs money.
No - as long as it is a good faith request.

GCD
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by GCD » Thu May 02, 2019 7:59 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:35 pm

Do any of you feel bad when someone spends time (and gas money) giving you a free estimate and you choose not to do business with them? :)
I used to own a tree removal company. This happens all the time. No big deal. They won't feel bad, neither should you.

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:38 pm
How much is typically paid up front in a job like this?
Zero.

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:44 pm
dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
5. BE THERE and watch the work being done.
Stand there and watch them the whole time? Is this to make sure the job is done right? I figured they would do the job on a weekday on a day that I normally work, although I could take a day off of work or see if they can do the work on one of my off days.
Yeah, taking off work to watch them seems weird. And what are you going to achieve anyway? It's not like they are inside your house and can steal something. Nor are you an expert in tree removal. What are you going to do? Yell out, "hey, you're cutting that branch wrong"? Remember, you haven't paid them yet. If they don't clean up debris, etc. they are still beholden to you. If they drop the tree on your house or car or something, being there to see it probably won't change any subsequent lawsuit or insurance claim.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by RadAudit » Thu May 02, 2019 8:12 am

If you have buried power and / or CATV lines, you may want to have those companies mark the lines' paths - if you are grinding stumps.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The cavalry isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by carolinaman » Thu May 02, 2019 9:34 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 am
I have a few trees that I need cut down. One is approx 25 ft, the other is 40, and other is around 50. I was quoted 1400 by one contractor for all three. That doesn't seem like a bad price. I did forget to ask whether stump removal was included.

He said they can start within the next day or two, claiming they will likely have a backlog of calls when the rain is finished in a couple days and seemed to insinuate that I should act now. Maybe he was trying to lock me in before I get other estimates? I have an estimate with a different company scheduled for Friday.

He did provide me with insurance information (both liability and workman's comp), which I can call and verify. He did not give me a written estimate, just verbal. Should I require a written estimate? Are there any other questions I should be asking?
I have done this multiple times. You need proof of liability insurance and workers' comp. If you have no knowledge of this person's work, I would get references. I would get price quote and scope of work in writing. How will he dispose of trees?

There are a lot of lightweights in this business so be very careful who you use. Also, only pay at the end of the job.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 02, 2019 10:02 am

HomeStretch wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 5:26 am
I pay $0 upfront. I am onsite when the work is done so if a small contractor requires a check upon completion, I pay after work is 100% completed.
That's something else I wasn't sure about, whether to pay them when they are finished or if they send a bill. Thanks for clearing that up.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 02, 2019 10:03 am

Wellfleet wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 6:17 am
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:35 pm
Wellfleet wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 12:55 pm
Always get a written estimate. I actually have a preference for contractors who are smaller outfits and are less formal- unmarked trucks, etc., but they all provide written estimates.

I’ve never had a contractor reject work after I got other quotes.
If I go with this particular contractor, I'll have to have him put it in writing.

Do any of you feel bad when someone spends time (and gas money) giving you a free estimate and you choose not to do business with them? :)
I do not feel bad. Sales for any business costs money.
True. Seemed like he was hoping that I would hire him right away as he did not seem to have work that day, but I had two other estimates. Even though it is a very reasonable bid, I already had the other appointments scheduled. If his bid ends up being the best one, hopefully he does not change the estimate if he is busier at the time.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 02, 2019 10:06 am

GCD wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 7:59 am
Yeah, taking off work to watch them seems weird. And what are you going to achieve anyway? It's not like they are inside your house and can steal something. Nor are you an expert in tree removal. What are you going to do? Yell out, "hey, you're cutting that branch wrong"? Remember, you haven't paid them yet. If they don't clean up debris, etc. they are still beholden to you. If they drop the tree on your house or car or something, being there to see it probably won't change any subsequent lawsuit or insurance claim.
I would suspect that they wouldn't be too happy with me standing there and watching them, I know I wouldn't be if I were them. If they do happen to drop a tree in a bad spot, they do have my number.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 02, 2019 10:08 am

carolinaman wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 9:34 am
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 10:26 am
I have a few trees that I need cut down. One is approx 25 ft, the other is 40, and other is around 50. I was quoted 1400 by one contractor for all three. That doesn't seem like a bad price. I did forget to ask whether stump removal was included.

He said they can start within the next day or two, claiming they will likely have a backlog of calls when the rain is finished in a couple days and seemed to insinuate that I should act now. Maybe he was trying to lock me in before I get other estimates? I have an estimate with a different company scheduled for Friday.

He did provide me with insurance information (both liability and workman's comp), which I can call and verify. He did not give me a written estimate, just verbal. Should I require a written estimate? Are there any other questions I should be asking?
I have done this multiple times. You need proof of liability insurance and workers' comp. If you have no knowledge of this person's work, I would get references. I would get price quote and scope of work in writing. How will he dispose of trees?

There are a lot of lightweights in this business so be very careful who you use. Also, only pay at the end of the job.
How exactly do you get references? Ask him to provide them? Of course he will give you the names of people who will give him a great review. I checked Google reviews and this guy has more reviews (almost all positive) than anyone else in the area.

Duly noted the suggestions on getting this in writing. I should have had him do this on the spot. I will have to find out if stump removal is included.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu May 02, 2019 10:33 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:44 pm
dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
3. Check some references
How do you get references? Find reviews online and contact them?
dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
5. BE THERE and watch the work being done.
Stand there and watch them the whole time? Is this to make sure the job is done right? I figured they would do the job on a weekday on a day that I normally work, although I could take a day off of work or see if they can do the work on one of my off days.
It is worth taking a day off to watch them to be sure the job is done exactly as you wanted. We have guys who have been cutting trees for us for nearly 20 years. They have never let me down, but I wouldn't think of not observing what they are doing.

In response to your other question, don't pay a cent until after the job is done to your satisfaction.

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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by HomeStretch » Thu May 02, 2019 10:55 am

CobraKai wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 10:06 am
I would suspect that they wouldn't be too happy with me standing there and watching them, I know I wouldn't be if I were them. If they do happen to drop a tree in a bad spot, they do have my number.
I watch especially if the crew is also trimming.

When kids were small, they watched tree work as they were fascinated by the whole process. When we had a backhoe for a backyard reno, I had parents ringing the doorbell as their kids wanted to watch too. While eating popsicles. Free fun.

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CobraKai
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Re: Hiring a contractor to cut down some trees....what should I be aware of?

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 02, 2019 11:51 am

Doom&Gloom wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 10:33 am
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:44 pm
dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
3. Check some references
How do you get references? Find reviews online and contact them?
dm200 wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 3:56 pm
5. BE THERE and watch the work being done.
Stand there and watch them the whole time? Is this to make sure the job is done right? I figured they would do the job on a weekday on a day that I normally work, although I could take a day off of work or see if they can do the work on one of my off days.
It is worth taking a day off to watch them to be sure the job is done exactly as you wanted. We have guys who have been cutting trees for us for nearly 20 years. They have never let me down, but I wouldn't think of not observing what they are doing.

In response to your other question, don't pay a cent until after the job is done to your satisfaction.
HomeStretch wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 10:55 am
CobraKai wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 10:06 am
I would suspect that they wouldn't be too happy with me standing there and watching them, I know I wouldn't be if I were them. If they do happen to drop a tree in a bad spot, they do have my number.
I watch especially if the crew is also trimming.
Do you watch them the whole time? They don't ask you why you're not at work? :)

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