why are clearing rates so low?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by PTSolutions, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    from OH
    Messages: 2,331

    So I'm looking at bidding a 4.5 acre clearing job for a school nearby. They are putting in some more athletic fields. The 4.5 acres have a variety of maple, oak, ash, elm, and other various trees native to our area. Trees can be cut flush to ground or as low as you are able to.

    The excavation contract will be taking care of stumps during the next phase. I have no issues with taking down the trees as I can use about 90% of them for firewood. The rest like the dead/rotted/softwoods I can haul away and dispose of for free.

    My only concern comes with chipping all the branches. Once the trees are bucked they will be separated into piles depending on if we are keeping them or disposing. The brush off the trees needs to be chipped/hauled away. They don't want chip piles left on site. All underbrush is small enough that it can be hit with a rotary mower on a skid steer and that remnants can be left on site.

    With the rates I've heard of for our area, I can't understand how some companies devote the type of equipment to the site. The chipping especially.
    Small bc1000's run about 4-500 per day. I haven't really been able to find any small horizontal units that can be feed brush/branches via an ex for rent at all as that would be my go to method.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Reads like a supply and demand issue. I believe most of the companies in your area have all of their equipment bought and paid for a long time ago. This fact often keeps the prices for land clearing relatively low. Can you just burn the remaining material on site?.
    easy-lift guy
  3. YellowDogSVC

    YellowDogSVC LawnSite Gold Member
    from TX
    Messages: 3,791

    I disagree. I think there are a lot of contractors using rented machines and they have no idea what they are doing. I see it all the time. They price a job at $500 day, rent a machine at $275 plus fuel and then work all day for free paying a couple of guys too. NO way they can pay insurance, fuel, taxes, maintenance, etc. and make a decent living but it's common down here in S. Texas where a machete is as good as a tree shear any day. :dizzy:

    Back to the original post. A small horizontal would be perfect. The shreds would be marketable or could probably be dumped for free at a processor who makes mulch and doesn't mind regrind.
    We are using a mulcher more and more for tops, limbs, and branches up to 8-9". It's a little chunky compared to a grinder but it reduces the volume about 80-90% making haul-off easier. Again, a processor might take it for free since it would be easy to regrind. It's a lot less labor than hiring out or paying guys to feed a chipper and nothing has to be stacked neat or cut up.

    If you were going to hire someone like me, I'd tell you to pile it up all (windrow is best) up away from people or structures and then I could mulch it down. I have a 20" capacity chipper with loader that I'm seriously considering selling because I'm called in more and more just to dispose of the brush and QUALITY labor to feed the chipper gets expensive. Mulching isn't the answer everywhere but if you have to haul away the chips/mulch anyway, it's an economical answer compared to a $200k small grinder.
  4. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    Seems like it would be easier to sub the excavation company to do the clearing. Cutting the stumps low will make it harder to get them out the ground.

    A good size Dozer can push most trees over, pulling the stump/root ball with it. We are doing a clearing job now, D5 Dozer and Cat 316 excavator. They make a great pair.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    If the ground is relatively level a front end loader with a root rake could make quick work of any stumps left. Unless there are any restrictions on burning the balance of material, I believe this to be the most cost effective means to complete the task. If burning is not permitted ask the land clearing company how much more to complete the job, move forward.
    easy-lift guy
  6. 4 seasons lawn&land

    4 seasons lawn&land LawnSite Gold Member
    from NY
    Messages: 3,614

    Odd they are separating out the stumps from the clearing. They must think they are saving money. If you can't find any chippers or grinders then a mulcher might be hard to find too. burning and hauling are all that's left.
  7. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    Unless I am missing something you didn't state what the rates are. So what is a cheap rate?
  8. P.Services

    P.Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,319

    Its cheap because of guys just like you. They can find places to dump the trash wood for free, they see all the other hard wood as free firewood that's the entire reason they are doing the job. Rent a mower and a chipper to get rid of branches and that's a close on that job.

    You think its cheap yet you really don't know because you havnt seen anyone's prices on this job nor do you even know for sure who else is bidding on the work.

    4.5 acres moderate tree density I say somewhere around 12-18k
  9. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    from OH
    Messages: 2,331

    If you are going to spout off ******ed comments like this I'm going to ask you to stay out of my thread. I'll hit each of your stupid comments one by one.

    Trash wood: There are a handful of suppliers here that take any type of tree, branches, shrubs clippings etc... (except stumps) that they then process and re sell as mulch or organic compost. So thats why I can dump for free any softwoods that I wouldn't process myself.:dizzy:

    Free Firewood: I know my costs exactly to process wood. I am not doing this job for free firewood. I get as much maple, oak, locust, ash as I went from the tree companies I know. They call us up when they don't want to haul or chip the larger stuff and we show up with our dumps and trailers and they load us up and we go. Simple as that. We have processed several 5'+ diameter oaks. So don't think I'm some hillbilly selling shi.t firewood.

    Your 12-18k would put you way out of league for the companies bidding this job so thanks for playing.


    I do know several of the companies that are bidding on this job and have close relationships with many other tree companies in the area. The numbers that are being tossed around are 1500 an acre. Most of my friends running tree companies don't even bother doing clearing because of these rates.

  10. YellowDogSVC

    YellowDogSVC LawnSite Gold Member
    from TX
    Messages: 3,791

    Are they leaving the stumps because they are going to grind them in the ground? That may make sense if there are big root balls to deal with. Can you post some pics? OH trees are a lot bigger than most of the trees we deal with down in S. TX but when we are dealing with the 30"+ live oaks, we chip or mulch the tops and either recycle, haul off or sometimes burn the trunks that are too big for anything but a tub or a big horizontal.

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