Can someone tell me how much to chop down

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Liquidfast, May 7, 2006.

  1. Liquidfast

    Liquidfast LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 739

    a 25 foot birch tree? Any ideas? I need some pricing help if someone could be so kind.
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    Will you have to clean-up the mess and remove the debri also?What about the stump can you leave it a stump or are they gonna want that removed too?
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    No offense sir, but tree work is something I do only if the tree is not large enough to kill me or cause damages to cars, houses, driveways, etc... I'm not insured for tree work and yes I have a chainsaw but big trees require some expertise and experience and I'm not a tree guy and I hate to take on trees that big for the simple reason if anything goes wrong, I could be done.

    That is not to say I've never taken on a larger tree, but I also had a large tree trunk snap on me one day... It was lying flat on the ground and I put the saw into it and it was hard to see until it happened but the log was under pressure because it is heavy and flat as it looked, evidently it wasn't. The snap was startling and the rush of adrenaline was intense, but I am glad to be alive because if the piece that snapped had come towards me, I'd likely have lost more than what I bargained for, possibly life or limb.

    Reason I say this is because standard Business Liability Insurance at least in my case does not cover tree work... Tree work is a high risk job which requires additional insurance generally costing an extra thousand dollars / year or thereabouts, which is why tree work is not cheap and also why customers tend to ask the unwary lawnboy (no offense, I get asked, too).

    Please determine how and where you're going to drop this tree. Please know that no matter how well you plan it, it is possible the tree can fall the exact opposite direction so you really need to make sure the tree can NOT fall on an object such as a house, car, or paved surface (trees being heavy, when dropped in one piece can damage / crack asphalt and concrete sidewalks, while aggregate is especially prone to cracking).

    If the tree can not and will not fall on anything of value should it go in the right or the wrong direction, now you need to consider your own risk: I would assume a 25-foot tree is big enough it could kill you, something for which your current insurance may not provide coverage. Considering if you do not have insurance, you can charge a little bit less but you still need to get paid for the risk. That is, unless you have experience and you're climbing the tree and limbing it down and doing it proper, in which case I am out of line.

    The stump in and of itself can be ground or left alone, cut it first a little high, high enough for comfort, basically you cut it where you feel like it. Then if the stump is not to be ground, you can either cut it again so that it is low enough for a lawn-mower to pass over completely, or leave it just high enough to make sure you or whoever is cutting grass can SEE the stump. Nothing is worse than a low-cut stump that's just high enough for the mower blades or deck to catch but you can't hardly see it.

    Far as removal, that likely doubles the price... I'd charge at least 300 for dropping the tree, cutting it up and throwing it in the woods, 500 or more for hauling it away keeping in mind wood is heavy and may require more than 2 trips even if it would all fit in one load, if it's too heavy then it won't go in 1.

    Last but not least, even if the tree is roped heavily and 3 ropes all pulling in one direction and the tree is leaning and it really SHOULD fall exactly where you think it will, it is still possible the tree will fall someplace else. The possibility is remote but the risk exists and can cause property damage, injury or death. You have been warned, the final decision is yours.

    Now if it's just a small 1-foot diameter single tree trunk without branches like a tall but skinny stick, that's not that big a deal. 125
  4. Liquidfast

    Liquidfast LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 739

    This particular tree is leaning towards a garage. The ground where the tree is located has washed away due to heavy rains and a portion of the stump is visible. The tree is elevated approx. 15ft. above ground angled directly at the garage. It is not a big deal however, the customer wants it removed. Due to the location, danger involved (due to lean angle) and the near impossible way to get to it and oh yeah, the trek thru the forest to chop it down in the first place..................$275 plus disposal...............does this sound reasonable?

    I could leave the tree where it is and the stump can stay. Again, it (the stump) is visible from where the soil is exposed.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The only question is how do you make sure the tree won't fall on the garage?
    Can you climb it and rope limbs as you cut from the top, you rope the limbs down to the ground, or if it's just a stump, you'd still likely need to rope down pieces of the stump... Almost bucket truck material but it can be done without if the tree is not over hanging the garage, you could cut and drop pieces that would then fall straight down?

    Because I am thinking, if you drop it in one piece, too much a chance of it falling on the garage itself.
    You'd still have to climb it at that point, is the tree dead?
    Not to be smart, but if you've never climbed one before... Most guys have special gear for this.
    Or what else did you have in mind?
  6. Liquidfast

    Liquidfast LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 739

    I am sorry that I wasn't clear. I have chopped trees in the past. I have climbed them, roped them etc....however, the particular tree is different. There is no way to climb it to rope it off. I have an extended grip extension that I can get the rope that high around it..(once)...I have just never priced one before that was in danger of collapsing and destroying someones property.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Here is a method but I can not guarantee safety, if I were to do this I would tell the customer that they take the risk of the tree falling on the garage in exchange for the price of 275 or maybe 325-350 and you accept all responsibility. Roughly, I'd say 75-125 / hour or so for the cutting and roping and stuff, but regular rate for the normal mundane cleanup part of the job?

    Either way, you can do it for less but while you risk life or limb, they risk damage to the garage. It's like buying a used windshield for your car: It's not cracked but it comes without a guarantee so if it cracks, you're out of your money and the windshield too, but it's far cheaper than a new one. Meanwhile, I've bought 2-3 used windshields and have never had a problem.
    You of course will do your utmost to make sure it doesn't fall on the garage but if it does, the customer accepts responsibility.

    That or they can get other estimates from pro tree co's but I don't think it will be much less than 300...
    A friend of mine recently took down and hauled off about a 60-footer with less risk but bucket truck for 550 as a favor, likely would've been closer to a thousand normal... So 300 on up for a 25-footer with risk doesn't sound far off.
    I'm just saying if you take the risk and accept responsibility, then 50-75 dollars over top of the labor, maybe 100.
    Does it look anything like this:
    (Of course, limbed down would be far better than this but)
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    You could always quote slightly higher (like 325) then if everything's really cool and all that, lower it to 275 or if they about have a heart attack...

    I think there's a tree section someplace in this forum, might start another thread and link it to this one...
  9. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

  10. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    sub it out to a tree guy with the appropriate expertise and equipment and mark it up 10%. I know my tree guy would laugh if someone offered him $275 for something like that. My guess would be $500 minimum and he would do it with the bucket truck and be out of there including stump grinding in less than 2 hours.

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