SHOULD ONE GET A CONTRACT FOR TREE REMOVAL?

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Hi,
I have six trees that need removing and it's going to cost me $1,200.00. This is said to include removal of trunks, leaving the stumps cut off at about ground level. All debris removed and a small birch tree removal included for free. I got three estimates. Two where scribbled on the back of a business card and this one was actually written on note paper. I have never had a job this big done for trees and am wondering if I should get it all in writing or is the note paper enough? It's not signed or anything. He advertises being fully insured and I would plan on at least seeing proof of that or should I maybe get a copy of it to boot?
Dave
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Get a contract in writing, get a copy of his certificates of insurance for liabiliy and workers comp from his insurance co , not him. Call and talk to his broker to be sure you will be covered and insurance expiration date. Any utility lines in the way ?
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Assuming you are satisfied with the cost estimate, don't be too put off by the informality of the quote. However, make sure you get a copy of his certificate of insurance indicating levels of cover and that the insurance is current. Secondly, before paying for the job the contractor signs a waiver of lien-- a simple document you can find on the internet--- ensures the contractor can't file a lien on the title of you house/property. Contractors have to sign them all the time.
The pricing on your tree removal seems right for big trees. Most tree removal contractors will grind down stumps to below grade. Good luck.

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take heed people. all you need to know about doing business is spelled out right here.
in my own dealings, i have found a direct correlation between a persons willingness to put it all in writing up front, and how good the transaction goes in general. there is absolutely no reason for someone not to want to have a professional contract written up, show you their credentials, etc.. except that they are either hiding something, incompetent, or simply plan to rip you off.
randy
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My 2 best home improvements were on a handshake basis. Felt extremely good about the guys and had great references. One was for Corian countertops. I happened to find the subcontractor that all the fancy guys with the showrooms used. The second case was when I needed a long term brick repair deal to install flashing and brick ties left out by a builder. I called the biggest mason in the area. He told me that I needed a troubleshooter type repair mason and when his guys screwed up, he used a particular guy. Called that guy who did the job on an hourly basis over the course of several months and he was terrific. Had his work checked by engineers who now call him whenever they have a client with brick problems.

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Tree removal is straight forward, But being a contractor myself Ive been taken [ attempted ] many times . For protection of the uninformed especially, written contracts are a must, also for Tax purposes and litigation. You will other wise be in a he said - he didn't say situation. The best of intentions can go wrong if something bad- unforeseeable happens. They protect both sides
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to
etc..
plan
another hardhead that insists on posting their way with no regard to the way the branch is going.. topp/bottom/back/forth. ok. ill continue it. back to the bottom...
anyway, im not saying you cant get a good deal on a handshake, but i would bet that those two guys you had good deals on a handshake with, would have given you a written contract.
if you want to impress me tell me the story of the guy you asked to put it in writing, he refused to, yet still did a good job.
randy
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The mason I had worked routinely for the same masonry contractors to fix the jobs their employees screwed up and almost always worked without written contracts. The corian guy was the guy who did the work for all the pretty showrooms. SHould have noted that I did get certificates of insurance from both these guys insurance companies for liability and workers comp. Could I have gotten written contracts from these guys? Probably yes. And I don't recommend going without a written contract. My point was that these were highly repected subcontractors that worked for the same guys all the time and if you can find those kind of people it is the best way to go. Knowing that you got a great subcontractor is even better than a written contract because a contract for a few thousand dollars is not worth sueing over these days. But under normal circumstance when you don't know you have the best and most honest guy in the business, a written contract is important for both sides. And if there is more than a few thousand dollars worth of work, of course you need to get everything in writing. BUt even then, sueing is a pain in the neck.

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Yes. i would. ANd, youll want to make sure they carry insurance and are licensed in case an accident happens to your property or , your neighbors. Id look for Tree Contractors that actually have LetterHeads too !
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This is Turtle.
Them Contractor with Letter Heads must be good for they probley own a computor to print one. DaveinIllinois do you have a computor to print your letter heads for your so call HVAC business. If your in the HVAC business like you claim. You need to get a computor to keep up with your records of your HVAC business or Are you really in the HVAC business without a computor to keep up with your business ?
TURTLE
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I would look for a guy who uses a crane like the utility linemen and see what he quotes. Those guys get twice as much done if they can fit the crane in for your job. Their crane costs them something of course but once a guy gets one he never gives it up so I presume they more than pay for themselves. Usuallty their Yellow pages ad states whether they have a crane.

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The price seems reasonable to me for 6 trees. Do not let the informality fool you. That is the way most tree folks do it. At least in my experence. Definately check on the insurance, license requirements and or permits needed. I would be asking for a second quote for stump removal. "leaving the stumps cut off at about ground level." is really open to interpetation. I had a palm removed and they left a stump that became a hill in my front yard. The closer you get to the roots the harder it is to cut. Plan on being home the day it is done. If the wood is any good see if your neighbors want any for their fireplaces. If you feel the need for a contract or something more formal then ask for it. I did my palm removal on a hand shake and he was unlicensed.
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this is a perfect example of exactly why you need a contract. sometimes the tree people already have your trees sold for firewood. part of the contract needs to spell out what happens.
you can always make out a contract and end up not really needing it. it doesnt work the other way around. to give an analogy, you can always get a college degree, ignore that you have it, and end up working at the local 24 hour store simply because you want to. but you cant work at the 24 hour store then step into a profession that requires a degree.
its better to have it and not need/use it, than not have it and wish you did.
randy
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On CNN today they had a picture of a house cut in half because the truck lifting the tree rolled over. House has been condemned. Hope he had insurance.

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Art wrote:

Heh. There was a tree cut down across the street from us about 20 years ago. The guy doing it used a pickup truck with a line wrapped around one of the larger branches. He was up there with a safety line and a chainsaw. When the branch started to go, he yelled at his assistant who yelled at the other guy in the truck, and started to rev it into gear. By the time the truck moved anywhere, the branch, rope and all, had fallen through the tree owner's front porch.
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Back when I was young and stupid (young at least no longer applies) I cut down a huge locust next to an old house. Using young logic I climbed as high as I could, tied a rope and then tied to my PU. Did the undercut, the back cut until I felt the tree was about ready, hit the PU and pulled. Rope broke...who would thunk it! Fortunately I was able to reclimb (does -stupid- also enter her?) and attach a CABLE.
Harry K
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<Snip as others have discussed it>

'cut off at about ground level' - This will be higher than you can run a mower over. The best you can hope for is about 2". No contractor is going to cut a stump close enough to ground to hit dirt and ruin a chain. I can gaurantee you that you will not want those stumps left above ground. Either have the contractor grind them or plan on doing it yourself.
Harry K
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get a contract. a friend of mine had a problem a while ago because the guy was claiming his bid didnt include the removal part even though i was there and heard him say before he started that it did include it. after he fell them, he said he would be back to remove them later and never showed up. when my friend called back he said it wasnt part of the deal.
where did my friend go wrong? he paid the guy before they were removed. but a written contract would have also probably worked.
randy

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said...

You answered yourself.

A contract doesn't work as well as money. If your friend still had the money (or some of it) he would have had some control. A contract can help, but enforcing it is usually a pain in the ass. The best system is a simple payment plan. x% of money after x% of work.
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