How to Hire a Professional Tree Service
Hurricane Dorian is just the latest example of what incredible damage storm systems can inflict. Our hearts go out to the northern islands of the Bahamas, which suffered catastrophic destruction, as well as the East coast of the United States, where millions of people are affected.
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners will begin the process of cleaning up, and many will decide that the job does not fit into the category of “DIY”. They will come to the wise decision to hire a professional to clean up the fallen trees, cut down the ones that need it, and haul away the storm debris.
But is that the end of the decision process? Are all tree services about the same? What should a homeowner consider when hiring a professional tree service?
Our aim with this article is to answer these questions and provide you with a handy guide to help you make an informed decision.
- What are their credentials?
- Put it in writing.
- Can they provide proof of insurance?
- Does the company value safety?
- Can they provide references?
- Will they provide a detailed estimate?
- Can they offer you a plan on how they will accomplish the work with a timeline?
Just because a company claims to be a “professional tree service”, this doesn’t mean they are honest, reputable, or even capable or qualified to handle the job in question. Ask to see credentials such as a business license, or certifications distinguishing them as an arborist or tree surgeon.
A clear contract is a must. This is to protect both parties and to ensure which party will assume liabilities. It also stands as the agreement for cost and payment terms.
If there is an accident, damage to property, injury, or even death – who is responsible? Any reputable contractor will be willing to provide proof of insurance. Given the hazardous nature of tree work, this is a must to make sure that your property is insured. The last thing you want to do is add a lawsuit to your list of post-storm concerns.
Ask the contractor what safety precautions they will take, such as personal protection equipment (PPE), support systems to stabilize trees, anchors, harnesses and so forth. If the contractor doesn’t like such questions… you might take that as a warning sign.
Post storm cleanup brings in contractors from hundreds of miles away, oftentimes contractors from other states. They appear out of nowhere, hoping to price gouge and cash in on desperate homeowners. Are they authorized to work in your state? Does their insurance cover work in your state? Can they provide references? Will they follow up to complete the job or correct a mistake? A good list of references should help alleviate concerns. Don’t forget to check their website and business listings (such as can be found on Google) to see how the company is rated and reviewed.
A detailed estimate will help prevent any misunderstandings or hidden costs. Make sure the contractor is willing to provide the details instead of an approximation of costs or a comment such as “we won’t know how much it will cost until we get in there and start working”. This can be true to some extent with complex jobs, but the contractor should be willing to provide a price range with contingencies in a complex situation. No surprises, please.
Knowing what the timeline is for beginning the work, the basic process for what must be done to accomplish the task, and ultimately, a completion date will alleviate a lot of stress and concern for a homeowner. A good contractor will also stay in close communication if an issue arises. Let’s face it: things happen. Weather delays, equipment breakdowns, and other unexpected issues are just a part of life. But a good contractor will be a good communicator and help you understand from the start what the plan is as well as what hurdles could arise.
Remember that hiring a contractor for professional tree service is an important decision. Price and availability are always factors, but hiring simply because a contractor is available to start the job right away or because they offer the best price may actually serve as a warning sign. Follow the steps outlined here and you should come away a happy customer with a job well done.