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Hiring a Tree Removal Service? Ask These 10 Questions!October 4th, 2022 by
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Is it time to spruce up your yard? Time to get things cut down and pruned up? While you might be able to shape up shrubs and bushes, trees are a different story.
Tree limbs that fall during pruning can hurt you and damage your property. And if you have a tree that needs to come down altogether, only the pros have the equipment to do that safely.
Hiring a tree removal company, however, can be easier said than done. And if you’re in an emergency situation with a tree that needs to come down immediately, it’s tempting to hire the first company that answers the phone.
We’re here to help you keep your wits about you! Keep reading for ten questions to ask any tree service company. The answers you get from each one will help you make a great hiring decision.
What to Ask When You Hire a Tree Removal Service
Asking lots of questions can help you gather the information you’ll need to make a decision.
1. Do you have a certified arborist on staff?
An arborist is a tree expert. Arborists are specially trained to provide proper tree care. Certified arborists are the cream of the crop. They’re certified through the International Society of Arboriculture.
ISA Certified Arborists have gone through many hours of coursework. They also have a specific code of ethics that they must follow.
2. Which industry organizations does your company belong to?
When it’s possible, opt for a tree service company that belongs to an industry organization. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA), for example, are well-respected industry resources.
Companies that are members of professional organizations are more likely to be up to date on the latest best practices. This is especially important if your goal is to save a tree rather than take it down.
3. May I see your proof of insurance?
This is a must. The reality is that there’s a chance of injury or property damage any time you have work done on or around your house. It might be a small chance, but it’s there.
You should have homeowners’ insurance, of course, but that isn’t enough. The tree company you hire should have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. This protects you (and the company) if your property is damaged or someone gets hurt during the job.
4. Will my job require a permit?
Tree removal work sometimes requires a permit from your city or county. You might also need the go-ahead from your homeowners’ association.
This is one area where you don’t want to buck the system. Fines for unpermitted work can be steep. Most tree removal companies will pull permits for you, but be sure to ask.
5. How long will you honor a quote?
If you have the time, it’s always good to get a few quotes to compare. Each company should honor their quote for at least a few weeks. If anyone tries to get you to sign a contract immediately, keep looking. High-pressure sales tactics usually aren’t a good sign.
6. How often do you handle my specific issue?
Ask about the specific problem you’re facing with your tree. If you have a dying tree, ask if it is salvageable. Arborists are trained to bring sick trees back to health. In many cases, you can save that beautiful tree.
7. What is your history in the tree services industry?
A company’s history shows its track record with clients. It also gives you a good insight into how they run their business.
8. Does your company use subcontractors or temporary laborers?
Working with subcontractors is common in-home services. Having a network of subcontractors allows a business to expand its offerings without having to train staff.
That being said, there are pros and cons to using subcontractors. If your property is damaged, subcontractors are not liable. It’s also more difficult for your contractor to enforce quality standards. The subcontractors aren’t employees, after all.
9. What equipment will you be using?
Tree removal can involve some heavy-duty equipment. Make sure your underground utility lines are marked so the crew knows to avoid them.
10. What is your cleanup process?
Ideally, your yard should be left just as clean (if not cleaner) than it was before the work. If you ask, however, most companies will mulch limbs or cut and stack wood for you, typically for a fee. Be sure to bring this up before they start the job so they can plan ahead.
The job clean-up details should be included in your quote and the contract. This way, everyone knows what they’re responsible for.
5 Reasons to Call a Tree Removal Company Now
Dead trees and limbs can be really dangerous. At the same time, not every tree that looks a little worse for the wear is headed for the chipper. Sick trees can sometimes be saved.
Whether you have a sick tree or one that is truly dead, it’s important to act sooner rather than later. Check out the following five signs that you need the help of a tree expert:
- The tree doesn’t sprout new leaves or blooms in the spring.
- The tree is leaning.
- You see cracks or holes in the tree’s trunk.
- Branches are dropping or are visibly decaying.
- The visible root system shows signs of decay or damage.
The Bottom Line
There is a lot to think about before having a company out to trim or prune. In cases of tree removal, it is even more important to do your research. What may look like a simple tree removal can turn into an expensive mess if damage is done by the contractor. Hiring an experienced, vetted tree removal company ensures that your job will go smoothly.