Really love your peaches wanna shake your tree
February 16, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Web sites or on-line calculators to determine fair price for tree removal?

Is there such a thing? I've been getting estimates, but the method of quoting (guy squints, shakes head, writes number, hands it to me) makes me a little nervous. Is there a site with some rough formula - tree this diameter, this tall, with this access, requires x men for x hours?
I realize that with record snows their services are in high demand and I'm prepared to wait a little, as the worst is over, but two large trees will need to come down.
posted by fixedgear to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tree removal prices are ridiculous, I was quoted thousands of dollars to remove a tree. For 150 I bought a chain saw/pole saw and some safety gear and took down two trees. It is hard work. Go very slow. Take off top branches and cut your way down. TAKE YOUR TIME. If you take baby steps it is safe. Be warned branches in the canopy look small till they come down. Use a hard hat, safety goggles and tie branches you're cutting to other branches and then lower them down.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 2:01 PM on February 16, 2010

If you want to hire someone Angie's List is a Web site that features a variety of services and people who have used the service give feedback as to how the company did, the fees charged, etc.
posted by srbrunson at 2:38 PM on February 16, 2010

Response by poster: I've done electrical work, plumbing, painting, hung sheetrock, and landscaping, but I have to draw the line at taking down a 60' tall pine 24" in diameter and an oak that is similar in size. Thanks just the same.
posted by fixedgear at 3:03 PM on February 16, 2010

For comparative purposes, it cost me about $700 to have a good-sized, almost-dead oak tree cut down, complete with stump grinding. IIRC, I had another quote that was about 1K. As I soon discovered, $700 was definitely at the lower end of the price range, and there didn't appear to be any rhyme or reason for the charges. This is in upstate NY.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:06 PM on February 16, 2010

Response by poster: If it were $700 per tree I'd be jumping for joy. We're looking at $2,800 for two trees. I realize equipment, insurance, labor and fuel are all high, and I don't begrudge anyone their living, but that is crazy money.
posted by fixedgear at 3:37 PM on February 16, 2010

it is the insurance that is the cost raising component. The worker's comp for arborists and tree-fellers can be equal to the rest of their compensation due t the high risk of dismemberment and death
posted by Mahogne at 5:02 PM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: I am an arborist and landscape architect. I used to have my own tree company.

There is no "mathematical formula" for this, though there is a rational method. Basically, the cost of manual labor should run a company about $40/hour (here in Southern California). That includes overhead, profit, insurance, insurance, and insurance. Oh, and more insurance. Gasoline, taxes, equipment rentals, purchase amortization, maintenance, etc. That's paying a guy $10/hour just to haul brush to the chipper. Climbers should make $15-$25/hour, depending on how good they are. $60/an hour (cost) for the climbers is a good estimate.

So, two manual laborers, all day. 8 hours x 2 guys = 16 hours. 16 hours X 40/hour = $640.00. We aren't really even talking about skilled labor, drivers, and I didn't factor in a cost for the climbers.

Remember, they may not be there all day. But they may be eating up a whole day or more at your house. Travel time to and from the site, to the dump. Dump fees. Green waste dumps at about $$50-100/ton last I checked, and you can run up a couple of tons of green waste on a small job in one day. $200 for your trees, pffft! Gone.

Also, time is a factor. The biggest factor for time is access. Tree is by the front curb, and there are no targets for falling limbs, it's easy. You can drop the tree in a half hour and buck it up in a couple of hours and be gone. Tree in the back yard? Only accessible through a 3 foot wide gate? With lots of pretty plants the owner doesn't want to see trampled? On a slope? Oh, Christ. Time goes up by a factor of three to whatever in a hurry.

Also know that most tree companies are paying for stuff they have broken on other jobs as well. Fences, benches, etc, that the owner finds someone backed a truck into or dropped a limb on top of. Ouch.

Stump grinding may or may not be extra. It costs the guy almost a half day to run out to your house to grind two stumps, maybe a half hours worth of work. Most small outfits will put off the stumps until they can keep a guy busy all day, that's why they schedule it on another day sometimes - especially if they are renting.

The thing to remember is that mobilization costs are disproportionately high for small residential jobs. You have a large field of 40 foot tall eucalyptus out of town? 200 trees? Suddenly the cost gets down to like $100 a tree, or even less.
posted by Xoebe at 5:05 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, I was just talking about removal, above. Trimming, thinning, lacing, skirt raising, etc, are much, much more expensive. Trimming costs climb geometrically, proportional to tree canopies.

Ask a guy if he'll top a tree for you. If he smacks you upside the head, he's the right guy. Never ever top a tree. Ever. If you need to top a need to remove it.
posted by Xoebe at 5:12 PM on February 16, 2010

I've found that quotes vary wildly. Last year, I looked into removing 11 large (60+ feet) pines from my yard, and I've received quotes that have ranged from $2500 on the low end, to $15,000 on the high end. Same trees, same location, same labor, every contractor insured.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: $1,600 to take down the two trees. I can live with that.
posted by fixedgear at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2010

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