There are many tree care companies around, and choosing one can seem a difficult task. Costs can vary hugely and it may be tempting to opt for the cheapest, but consumers need to consider a number of factors when deciding who to employ to complete the work. If they dont, they could find themselves out of pocket later along the line.
So what should you check?
Is the company registered and licensed? What experience and qualifications do the people who will be undertaking the work have? If they are working near electrical lines, they will need to be Approved Line-Clearance Arborists, and you should confirm this.
Ask for references, and if there are any recent customers that you can speak to to get a fair assessment. Good companies should be happy to provide this information. If they have a Facebook page, check out their reviews on there.
Check that they have a current business license and certificate of insurance, and ask to see them. Without a business license they are not insured, even if they produce a certificate. Insurance is vital as, without it, you are likely to be liable if power lines or your neighbors property are damaged, and your household insurance may not cover it.
Quote and contract
A reputable company will provide a detailed, written quote, outlining the work they expect to do, and how long it should take. Try to get a minimum of three quotes to compare. If there are discrepancies in the work companies are recommending, ask why. Even before you accept the quote, a company should provide a copy of their standard work contract so you are clear about their terms and conditions. Again, a reputable business will be happy to do this.
While looks arent everything, clean, well-maintained vehicles are a good indicator of a professional business, and a company uniform is another good sign. If the vehicles are dirty and damaged, it should raise a warning flag that they may not be maintaining their equipment properly.
Ask what equipment they plan to use to reach the higher branches. Do they plan to use any heavy equipment and, if so, how will they minimize damage to your lawn or flowerbeds, for example?
When they arrive to begin the work, check that the crew are wearing adequate safety equipment. This should include helmets, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, and ear defenders. Workers should be using tree saddles and arborist climbing ropes. For lowering heavy branches specially designed rigging systems are essential. If they dont have this equipment, you should consider asking them to leave, as they are in breach of their industry regulations.
A good tree care company will not expect a deposit or payment before commencing the work. Unlike a builder, for example, they are not purchasing materials specifically for your job, so there is no need for an upfront payment. Equally, a good company should be happy to accept payment by card as well as by cash.
Finally, ask how the company will dispose of the debris. This should be included in their estimate or contract, but make sure that it does. Unless you have a fireplace or woodburner, or have friends that do, the felled wood is unlikely to be of any use. Many cities or counties will not collect it, and you could find yourself having to find another contractor to deal with the problem.
This may sound like a lot of work but, at the end of the process, you should be confident that the tree care company you have chosen will complete the work safely and to your satisfaction.