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Author Topic: Questions On Tree Removal for Client  (Read 2177 times)

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Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« on: May 05, 2017, 12:26:00 pm »
A little about me first: I'm a career firefighter who currently owns and operates a medium sized lawn care business on the side. I cater to higher end homes in the suburbs and rural areas. A few months ago I decided to add tree care and removal to my lawn business as I've had a lot of customers as well as just random people ask me if I did it. I've added the necessary insurance to my plan and obtained a business license in my county. Yesterday, while mowing one of my best clients yards I noticed an oak that had been struggling last year appears to have thrown in the towel. I'm planning to shoot them an e mail with a quote to remove it, however, I had some questions first.

I've taken down several trees with my father, however, none have ever had any penalty for failure as far as adjacent structures or hazards. Also, in the past I've never climbed, we have always used a JLG boom lift. I'm new to climbing and have been practicing SRT around my property with equipment borrowed from a friend at work.

For the real pros, my question is: would you climb this tree or utilize a lift?

As an amateur, my plan is to use a two man crew, me in the loft with a saw and a ground man to lower stuff. I would use the boom lift to get up there, set rigging to a higher branch and then take the branches apart in sections from the lift until it's down to the stump at which point I'll fell it in sections.

I haven't measured yet but the tree is approx 20" DBH. It's freshly dead/dying so it shouldn't be rotten. I plan to keep as much of the stump as I can for milling as it's a good long/straight stump, I think I may be able to get two ten foot sections out of it. I'll keep what I can for firewood too.

I was planning on pricing the job at $1550 without stump grinding.

$350 for lift rental
$200 labor for a ground guy for the day.
$1000 for my profit/business expenses.

With my lawn business I charge $50 an hour, and I figure (based on past experience on my own property) I can have this thing on the ground and cleaned up in well under a day (and I'm slow). So I should be looking at $100/hr. There is no dump fee as I just have to stack it by the street and the homeowner can schedule the county to come pick it up.



Offline ChugiakTinkerer

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2017, 02:45:21 pm »
I had a tree service come in last September and take down three cottonwood trees that were getting on in age and leaning ever closer to the house.  The guy came in with a boom truck and had the trees down and bucked in a couple of hours.  My trees were about 16", 16", and 19" dbh.  He and his helper left before lunch and were back in the afternoon with the cleanup truck.  Probably total time was ~4 hours.  All he left behind were 3 stumps and 14 saw logs.

It wasn't a concern for me but the vehicles did leave tire indentations in the yard.  Mitigating that could add to your time.  I paid $950 all told, but probably hard to compare different jobs in different markets.
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Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2017, 04:05:35 pm »
I had a tree service come in last September and take down three cottonwood trees that were getting on in age and leaning ever closer to the house.  The guy came in with a boom truck and had the trees down and bucked in a couple of hours.  My trees were about 16", 16", and 19" dbh.  He and his helper left before lunch and were back in the afternoon with the cleanup truck.  Probably total time was ~4 hours.  All he left behind were 3 stumps and 14 saw logs.

It wasn't a concern for me but the vehicles did leave tire indentations in the yard.  Mitigating that could add to your time.  I paid $950 all told, but probably hard to compare different jobs in different markets.

I should have said in my post, I understand pricing will vary by region. I may be high, although I don't want to sell my self short either. If I can climb the tree that would be another $350 off. That being said though, 950 for three trees sounds dirt cheap to me, though.

Offline sandsawmill14

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2017, 11:48:12 pm »
depending on the tree here it could be as low as 75 bucks a tree up to 500 per tree :)
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Offline RPowers

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2017, 12:08:53 am »
I think yall missed the part where he said his market focuses on the higher end suburb areas. Around here in the higher end areas taking down a large tree hanging over a structure, $1500 is about right. You price the market, not necessarily the job.
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Offline ChugiakTinkerer

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2017, 11:02:57 am »
I started out thinking I might fell my trees myself, but the more I looked into it the more I realized that tree climbing is not a task suited for amateurs.  So I called the tree removal services in my area.  What I noticed is that most of the operators are of an age where they don't want to be climbing any more.  I assumed that a boom truck would be more costly, so I called the one guy who still climbs trees.  He priced the job the same for me, whether climbing or using the truck.  He only climbs when he can't get the boom to the tree.  Since I was in the middle of repairing my fence anyhow, I just took it all the way down so he could get the truck in the back yard.

I suspect that using the boom truck generally makes a job quicker and safer.  My tree service guy gave me a very good price, and after seeing his work I would readily pay another $300 more for the same job.  I value the trust I have in his competence and professionalism.  If you have that sort of relationship with your customers, the premium for renting the boom truck should be easily offset by the comfort your customers have with your ability and integrity.
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Offline NWP

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 10:33:23 pm »
I think $1550 is a fair price. I would definitely use a lift. It's much safer and easier. I've found a lot of time that jobs that I think will go quickly end up taking longer. You have to factor this on to your pricing.  I'm also a firefighter that does tree work, firewood and mulch production on my days off.
1999 Blockbuster 2222, 1994 Duratech HD8, 1997 Duratech HD10, 2011 Case SV250, 2000 Case 1845C, 1990 Peterbilt 378 w/ Hood 7000 loader, 2001 Chevrolet, 2005 Chevrolet, several trailers, and Stihl saws.

Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Cient
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2017, 11:56:08 pm »
I think $1550 is a fair price. I would definitely use a lift. It's much safer and easier. I've found a lot of time that jobs that I think will go quickly end up taking longer. You have to factor this on to your pricing.  I'm also a firefighter that does tree work, firewood and mulch production on my days off.

Thanks for the reply bud and stay safe! I posted this question here as well as another forum and it's been very interesting seeing the responses. Responses basically  very from "that's fair" to "that's insane, lay down the crack pipe!"

While my area is one of the richest counties in the state, prices still do very pretty greatly from what I've seen. The last tree job where I was privy to pricing was a decent sized laural oak removal in a clients back yard I used to mow for. I didn't take the job but I asked him to let me know what quotes he got. He got prices ranging from a low of $900 from some rapy looking dudes in an old van to over $5,000 from a medium sized licensed and insured tree service ran by a guy that didn't look like he would rape and murder your family.

He went with the expensive guy.

Now on the flip side, my grandfather lived on a few acres on the Suwannee river and had a bunch of large oaks removed for what boiled down to about $100 a tree. In Alachua county Florida, though, everyone has worth ethic, know how, a truck, tractor, chainsaw, alcohol problem and at least a few friends that are out of work. So, pretty much anyone will work for beer money or barter. No offense to anyone from Alachua county, it really is a great place, just not in the best economic shape.

Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017, 01:00:42 pm »
Someone had also recommended to me that since there is nothing but empty field to the north of the tree to use a pickup truck and 1/2" rigging line to fell the tree in one piece against its lean. Would this also be advisable? To me it seems like while it would be substantially quicker it would also substantially increase the penalty for failure as this tree has a decent lean to the south, in my opinion.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2017, 03:00:57 pm »
Dr.C,

   I wondered the same thing when i saw the picture. If you use the cable option be sure you use heavy enough equipment. Maybe a big snatch block if there is another big tree or such to hook to. Be sure to use a long enough cable to keep you and your equipment safe. Also I would notch the tree in the direction to fall and bore cut it. Keep steady pressure on the cable but not too much to reduce the chance of the tree barber chairing on you. My son and I cut a red oak in his yard several years ago and he had tight pressure and I was doing a direct back cut and it barber chaired 11-12 feet and we were lucky only damage was to a nearby shed roof and not to me. We shot a string up with his bow then pulled up a cable and shackle to tie off up high.
Howard Green
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Online TKehl

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2017, 03:51:55 pm »
use a pickup truck and 1/2" rigging line to fell the tree in one piece against its lean. Would this also be advisable? To me it seems like while it would be substantially quicker it would also substantially increase the penalty for failure as this tree has a decent lean to the south, in my opinion.

First thought in my head is, "how big a boy are yah?".   :D

Second thought, how big of a truck.

Third thought, watch some Youtube videos on how NOT to do the job.

Fourth, may be best to practice on something with lower con$equence$ first.   :)

We've done it around houses of family, but I'd feel more comfortable pulling with a tractor.  Nothing like punching a pickup on grass, spin the tires, and watch the tree fall on ____ .  When we do it now, we'll put someone in on a tractor loader to drop some limbs first to better our odds, then push with skid steer or pull with tractor. 
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Offline Crusarius

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2017, 04:39:52 pm »
I like dumb ideas. So I will throw one out there. :)

cut notch on side you want it to go. Nail or screw a 2x4 to the other side as high as you can. Use a building jack from the ground to the 2x4. Use a strap at the base of the building jack to the tree trunk to keep it from slipping. Push the tree with the building jack. cut a little. Push the tree some more.

May not be a bad idea to have supplemental straps to tree to prevent it from rolling the wrong way on you. This is where the truck could come in handy. just make sure the strap is perpendicular to the direction you want it to fall. This will pull the tree slightly towards the truck so keep that in mind and don't get to close.

I AM NOT A LOGGER NOR HAVE I DROPPED ANY REAL TREES THIS IS JUST ONE MANS DUMB IDEA PLEASE BE SAFE NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDE TO DO.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2017, 05:21:29 pm »
   Dropping some limbs like TKehl suggests would also be a good idea. Looking at the picture the tree looks top heavy on what I guess is the South side. Dropping those limbs above the first big fork would greatly reduce the risk of the tree going that way.
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Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2017, 09:01:54 am »
I think I'm going to stick to using a lift and dismantling the tree branch by branch. It's the one method I have the most experience in, most confidence in and believe that I can do without any damage to life or property. Using a truck and pulling it over whole would no doubt be quicker, however, I've never done it before and I don't have any lower risk trees to practice on.

Offline low_48

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2017, 12:04:58 am »
Going from lawn care to dropping trees is quite the step up. Just curious, what kind of insurance policy do you have to have to drop trees in a residential area? I ran a custom woodworking business for 8 years. The more years I got into the business, the more I found that I could make more money by knowing when to hire parts of the job to experts. I'd mark up their work, and still make money on the job by acting like a general contractor. Something you might want to consider for the tough tree jobs.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2017, 12:21:48 pm »
Good advice, until one gets some serious training from a professional tree service and have the proper equipment and knowledge to do the work safely.
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Offline NWP

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2017, 04:10:37 pm »
I think I'm going to stick to using a lift and dismantling the tree branch by branch. It's the one method I have the most experience in, most confidence in and believe that I can do without any damage to life or property. Using a truck and pulling it over whole would no doubt be quicker, however, I've never done it before and I don't have any lower risk trees to practice on.

I think that's the best option. Don't listen to people that think you can just hack it off and pull it over. It might work but it is not professional. If you use the lift it will be much easier for the client to justify $1550 than yanking on it with a pickup.

As far as subbing it out or getting more experience, if you want to do this more the only way to learn and make money is to do it. I'm sure you know your limitations and can do the work safely. With a lift this job is a snap and you should have it on the ground in less than an hour.
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Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2017, 04:55:24 pm »
Going from lawn care to dropping trees is quite the step up. Just curious, what kind of insurance policy do you have to have to drop trees in a residential area? I ran a custom woodworking business for 8 years. The more years I got into the business, the more I found that I could make more money by knowing when to hire parts of the job to experts. I'd mark up their work, and still make money on the job by acting like a general contractor. Something you might want to consider for the tough tree jobs.

Good advice, until one gets some serious training from a professional tree service and have the proper equipment and knowledge to do the work safely.

I carry 1 million dollars in general liability which covers property damage to the owner, damage to any rental equipment, injury etc... This job is fairly easy and straight forward, if looking at really difficult jobs I have an ISA certified arborist that I work with at the fire department who has offered to lend a helping hand with expertise, equipment etc... Very good guy.

I think I'm going to stick to using a lift and dismantling the tree branch by branch. It's the one method I have the most experience in, most confidence in and believe that I can do without any damage to life or property. Using a truck and pulling it over whole would no doubt be quicker, however, I've never done it before and I don't have any lower risk trees to practice on.

I think that's the best option. Don't listen to people that think you can just hack it off and pull it over. It might work but it is not professional. If you use the lift it will be much easier for the client to justify $1550 than yanking on it with a pickup.

As far as subbing it out or getting more experience, if you want to do this more the only way to learn and make money is to do it. I'm sure you know your limitations and can do the work safely. With a lift this job is a snap and you should have it on the ground in less than an hour.

Thank you.i do know my limitations and I wouldn't take the job if it was beyond such limitations. This is well within my comfort zone.

Offline Dr. Cornwallis

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2017, 04:17:58 pm »
I ended up pricing the job at $1490 which broke down as follows:

$290 for 50ft Articulating Boom Lift
$200 for day labor
$1,000 to cover my profit, other operating expenses and dump fees etc...

Another guy who has previously done tree work for my client bid $900 and will be climbing the tree and performing the work solo. They're giving the job to him.

All in all, though, I'm not too disappointed as had I not priced in labor and a lift I would have been close. The labor and lift were both for safety reasons. You win some, you lose some.

Online mike_belben

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Re: Questions On Tree Removal for Client
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2017, 12:54:26 am »
I was a climber on the side for a while.  My vote on that tree is bucket truck.. Way faster, safer and easier.  Well worth the fee.

Most guys are not equipped to spend 5hrs on gaffs.  For me it took a week to recover from the back and knee pain each time.  Not to mention all the near death experiences.  First time you gaff out and grind your face down an oak trunk in a brief freefall before the lanyard bites in.. is the moment of reflection on the value of a dollar.  You can skip all that in a lift.  Cant tell you how many sound looking trees ended up being one gust away from going over upon disection.