Put it all in writing: Tree care bids and contracts

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Here are tips on getting a detailed bid and contract:

-- Pruning or tree removal: Make sure the bid and contract say what trees or parts of trees are to be pruned or removed and how. Look for wording that says, for example, "remove all dead, dying, or weak branches of at least one-inch diameter." If you want the firm to lower rather than drop the branches, clean up the area, haul away the debris, cut wood to firewood lengths, split wood, stack wood, remove the stump, or fill in the stump hole, be sure to get these chores committed in writing.

-- Spraying job: You want to know what type of spray and spray equipment will be used, the pest or disease to be treated, and what you must do to prepare (for example, "cover lawn furniture").

-- Fertilizing jobs: You should know what type and amount of fertilizer will be used and how it will be applied (for example, "by drilling holes in the ground" or "by injection into the tree").

-- All jobs: Make sure the bid and contract say the dates the work will begin and end, what the payment schedule is and how the firm will be paid. Washington Consumers' Checkbook recommends paying for most if not all of the work after the job is finished. Use a credit card so you can stop payment and have the credit card company involved if there is a dispute between you and the tree firm. Also be sure to see documentation that the firm has liability and workers compensation insurance, or you could be liable for anything that goes wrong.

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