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Tree Loppers vs Arborists - Must Know Differences Before you Hire
An arborist by definition is someone who cares for and maintains trees. A more common name for an arborist is a “tree lopper”, but they are worlds apart. The education levels and knowledge of arborists these days are astounding.
You would only phone a tree lopper if you are looking at felling a tree from the base. But you would call an arborist aka “tree doctor” for a whole range of tree work including; arborist’s reports, identifying and treating pests and diseases in trees, dead-wooding, crown lifts, specialized pruning and of course tree removal.
Obviously there is a world of difference between a qualified tree service professional and your local ‘handyman’ who happens to own a chainsaw and advertises himself as a “tree lopper”.
…..but what does that difference mean for you?
Risk vs Reward
There is no doubt that getting a tree removed in Melbourne for example, by unqualified professionals can look like an attractive offer, because in general they are going to be cheaper than your qualified professionals.
Why, I hear you ask?
Professional arborists need to charge more because they have greater overheads such as public liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance specialist equipment and not to mention the years they spend studying Arboriculture.
So the reward is you save money, but what’s the risk?
You don’t need me to tell you that removing a tree is dangerous work. You have a guy swinging from a rope and harness 30 feet up in the air with a running chainsaw, dismantling the 2 tonne plus structure and trying to bring it down to the ground safely without injuring himself, his crew or your property….but just how dangerous is it?
It’s in the top 10 most dangerous professions in Australia, but if you look at the injury or death figures per 1000 workers it is 3 times deadlier than mining. (Mining being the DEADLIEST industry in Australia)
The risk you run trying to save a few hundred dollars is that the person you hire may get injured on your property (that’s a can of worms right there) or you risk tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to your property with a company that does not have the insurance cover to repair the damage.
Yes, you do stand to save hundreds of dollars if you don’t get your tree removal job done by a professional, but you run a very large risk of property damage or worse, injury or death on your property by one of the workers.
Don’t risk it, get a pro in and get the job done right.
Tricks For Finding A Great Arborist
Professional arborists aka “tree loppers” can be hard to come by, especially the really good ones, who are as rare as hen’s teeth!
We have put together some tips and tricks to finding a quality arborist for quality tree removal or tree pruning in Brisbane.
A Deadly Industry
Unlike plumbers and electricians, arborists and the whole suburban tree lopping industry is currently completely unregulated. Although there has been talk recently about change, there was also talk 10 years ago when I started my Certificate II in Arboriculture. There are no licence numbers or prerequisites to cutting down someone’s tree. You can literally just buy a chainsaw, put an ad in the local rag and your an “arborist”.
Being in Australia’s top 10 dangerous industries, coming in at a healthy (or deadly) 2th on the list, you really need to be sure you are getting in a qualified professional and not a cowboy with chaps and a chainsaw.
Four Thing You MUST Ask For
Most arborists worth their weight, will hand over 3 things to you when they are quoting your job.
- A written quote – This should be typed up and emailed or in a quotation book and NOT on the back of a card or a verbal quote.
- Arboriculture Certificate (Minimum Cert. II) – This is the bare bones of education needed to work safely with trees. Ideally they will have a certificate III.
- Public Liability Insurance – This is a must. Accidents happen to most of us, but when they do, you want to make sure the contractor you solicit is covered for any damage they might do to your property. The minimum is 5 million public liability insurance, but the common place industry standard is 10 million.
- Experience – Although you can ask if someone has experience, you can always check yourself. Make sure the contractor you intend to engage has a minimum of 5 years industry experience. You can check this by putting their company name or ABN/ ACN into http://abr.business.gov.au/This is a government site that allows you to see how long the contractor has had their business registered and how long they have been trading for as an arborist.
Hot Tip: See if they had been trading under any other name in the past. If they have an “old” trading name, put it into google search and see why they changed their name. Maybe they have a bad review or 10 that they were running from.
Note: There will be tree services contractors who have been working for someone else and have recently decided to go out on their own. In which case they should be able to tell you who they worked for and how long.
At this point you could check up on them, or depending on how they responded you will get a good idea about their background.
…Is this starting to sound like a job interview? It should!Because it really is.
There are so many ‘shonky’ operators out there, especially in the bigger cities who have no insurance, or experience and go around botching tree lopping work all over Brisbane, leaving the home owners to “pick up the pieces” – excuse the pun.
The Nuts and Bolts
Informative Assessment: It should be easy enough to spot a real arborist from a fake one. How? Ask them what type of tree it is when they come to quote the job.As real arborists, they should be able to tell you the species of the tree (both the common name and the Latin name) and give you a lot more information about the tree pruning or removal and what they are doing and how they will work on it.
We all know these palms to be Cocas Palms, but arborists would know their Latin/ scientific name to be Syagrus romanzoffiana.
Arborists love their work and love even more to share their wealth of information. So if you have a guy in front of you that just looks at the tree and blurts out a price…. he is probably not the real deal, so keep looking.
Attire: You can’t be too hard on these guys for looking a bit grubby, as it is a very dirty job. But they should not however, turn up in a beat up old falcon wearing a flanno and Dunlop volly’s. Generally they will be driving a ute with signage on it and have an appropriate attire.
These safety gears are 100% mandatory for all arborists when using chainsaws.
- Eye and ear protection
- Hi-vis vest or shirt
- Chainsaw pants (specially designed pants to stop a chainsaw cutting through them)
Communication: Nothing is more frustrating trying to get hold of tradesmen by phone, let alone trying to get them to arrive on time for a quote.
If they are not organized enough to turn up to give a quote at the time specified, then I wouldn’t expect too much out of them as far as quality of work or integrity goes….My advice, give them a miss altogether.
Well, I hope the above helps steer you in the right direction in getting a quality contractor in to do your tree work.
Remember quality doesn’t mean expensive. Most of the time it means getting the job done right the first time with no mechanical damage done to your property in the process.
Three More MASSIVE Tips
Be Wary of People Who Knock on Your Door and Offer to Trim Your Tree.
This goes on in all major cities in Australia. 9 times out of 10 they are not qualified and I have heard some horror stories of them doing major damage to property and just packing up and walking away.
Don’t risk it. Call a pro.
Save Money by Contracting An Arborist In The Off Season.
When I used to quote tree prunes and removals, the price i gave would vary depending on how busy I was. Sounds silly, but if you have 2 months worth of work booked in, you’re not going to knock yourself out on a job for a cheap price. The reason being, you’re not too phased if you get it or not.
Get me in to quote a job when I only have a week of work booked in and I really want/need your business. I am likely to give you a far cheaper price.
Save the big jobs until the winter months.
Always Get a Second or Third Opinion.
You would be amazed what another set of eyes can see and also their opinion on how much it’s going to cost you to remove or prune it.
As with the point above, prices can vary from one season to the next, but can also vary greatly from one pro arborist to the next. Always get a minimum of 3 or 4 quotes for large jobs.
Good luck with the job!
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