What Questions Should I Ask When Hiring a Tree Care Company

So, the pine tree over the garage has developed a noticeable lean, or the ash tree in the backyard looks like it might be infected by the Emerald Ash Borer, or the oak over the neighbour’s house has a huge dead branch in it. Time to call in a tree works company. But who do you choose, and what questions should you be asking to make sure you’re getting professional tree service and a qualified, fair quote?

We have put together the following guide to help you make the best decision possible.

Do you have liability insurance, WSIB or Equivalent?

You should never, we repeat NEVER hire a company that can’t provide proof of insurance on request. Homeowner’s insurance policies don’t usually cover contractors working on your property. Liability insurance covers you for damages resulting from contractors working on your property. WSIB covers our employees should they get hurt on the job and require medical treatment or be forced to take time off work, and shows a company cares about it’s workers. Even though we do everything in our power to ensure the safety of people and property on our job sites, tree work is incredibly dangerous as well as full of uncontrollable variables. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, so make sure you and the company you hire are covered.

Is your crew trained?

 Arborist and tree care worker certification in Ontario is largely unregulated and/or voluntary. That being said, all tree service companies must comply with Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Transportation regulations. A professional tree service company will demonstrate their commitment to the industry by becoming members of various trade organizations like the International Society of Aboriculture (ISA) or the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), and will go above and beyond to ensure their employees are trained and following industry best-practices. Potential contractors that can provide proof of worker certification in the various skills necessary for tree work (Working at Heights, Chainsaw Operator, First Aid/CPR, Production Tree Removal and Rigging, Crane Operator etc.) demonstrate a commitment to constant education, safety and quality.

Do you use special equipment?

Every tree presents a unique set of circumstances and challenges that often requires the use specialized equipment ranging from pole pruners to skid steers, heavy cranes and bucket trucks. A tree company should not be judged solely on the equipment they use however, and just as “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”, you can’t judge an arborist by their bucket truck. While a professional tree care company should look the part, fancy equipment is not always a marker of high quality workmanship. It’s always best to talk to your neighbours and/or ask for references from a potential contractor about past work. Also the saying “to a man with a hammer, everything is a nail” applies to tree work. Just because a company has a bucket truck or crane, does not mean it’s the best tool for your specific job. Talk with your potential tree contractor about their removal plan. A skilled tree worker will be able to walk you through exactly what they are going to do, what equipment they are going to use, and why that’s the best choice for your job.

Other important questions to ask when hiring an arborist or tree care provider:

How long have you been in the business?
Can you provide references?
Can you provide a written estimate?
Do you charge for written estimates?
What factors influence the cost of tree work?
Do I have to be home when the work is done?
Do you work during the winter?
If I would like more work done than originally quoted, how will this be handled?
Does your estimate include haulage of brush/wood and cleanup?
How soon can the work be started, and how long will it take?
What form of payment is accepted (cash, credit card, cheque etc.)?
Do you require a deposit?
What are some ways to keep my costs down? 
What other services do you offer?

Need help with a tree?

Contact the Professional Arborists at Axe & Wedge today!