Removing or performing major trimming on a large landscape tree is no easy feat, which is why most homeowners hire a professional tree service for such work. You must have a detailed contract the stipulates the work to be done, the conditions of payment, and covers any liability issues, including insurance coverage.
The following is a sample contract for major removal jobs by tree services. This sample contract pertains to proposed work to be done on a tree that presents a hazard, and which the customer, therefore, wants to be removed (or at least trimmed in a major way). When the work is less dramatic and the tree poses no hazard—such as for simple pruning—a typical contract is usually less detailed.
Note that the following example should be considered only an example, and is not to be used as a formal, binding legal document. A true working contract should be executed by a lawyer. However, this sample will give you a sense of what elements your contract should cover as you shop for tree services.
Most professional tree service companies will have the contract templates they use for writing up bids and securing approval to do the work. Be wary of any company that does not use some kind of contractual agreement. Tree removal is major work that should never be done based on handshake agreements. The actual language used may vary from contract to contract, but the details should include all the elements found in the sample below. You or your consulting lawyer may want to negotiate or clarify certain points of the contract; this is expected, and reputable tree services have experience in negotiating the wording and conditions of a contract.
Page 1 of Contract
The first page of this simple contract outlines the work to be done and may include options if the tree service is providing alternate approaches to the work they are bidding. It will also include your authorization signature, which is your agreement to have the tree service perform the work as described.
Acme Tree Service, Inc.
P.O. Box 123, Greenville, XX 1-800-123-4567
Tree care of ornamental and shade trees shall be performed by Acme Tree Service certified arborists. Acme Tree Service is fully insured and all workers are covered by worker’s compensation, property damage, public liability, and complete operation insurance.
Remove Eastern white pine to the left of the driveway. Clear out all wood and brush. Cut trunk as low to the ground as possible—$1885.00.
Tree stump removal. Grind stump 6-8 inches below grade—$290.00.
Remove one lower limb reaching over neighbor’s house. Prune limbs to trunk. Buck up larger wood into 18-inch lengths—$395.00.
Acceptance of proposal. The above prices, specifications, and conditions are satisfactory and hereby accepted. Acme Tree Service is authorized to do the work as specified. Payment within 30 days upon completion.
Page 2 of the Contract
On page one, an overview of the job has been laid out. Page two now deals with some of the thornier issues, such as insurance. For convenience, this part of the contract can be distinguished from the first page by calling it the "terms and conditions." Although the details included on the second page may appear to be "fine print," it is very important that you, as the paying customer, know precisely what these details include. In addition to offering more detail on the work, this is what protects you legally should any unexpected circumstances arise during the work.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE TREE SERVICE CONTRACT
Performance by Acme Tree Service, Inc.:
Work crews shall arrive at the job site unannounced unless otherwise noted herein. Acme Tree Service, Inc. shall attempt to meet all performance dates, but shall not be liable for damages due to delays from inclement weather or other causes beyond our control.
All work will be performed professionally by experienced personnel outfitted with the appropriate tools and equipment to complete the job properly. Unless otherwise indicated herein, Acme Tree Service, Inc. will remove wood, brush, and debris incidental to the work.
Acme Tree Service, Inc. is insured for liability resulting from injury to persons or property, and all its employees are covered by Workers Compensation Insurance.
The customer warrants that all trees, plant material and property upon which work is to be performed are either owned by him/her or that permission for the work has been obtained from the owner. Acme Tree Service, Inc. is to be held harmless from all claims for damages resulting from the customer’s failure to obtain such permission.
Terms of Payment:
All accounts are net payable upon receipt of the invoice. A service charge of 1.5% will be added to accounts not fully paid 30 days subsequent to the invoice date.
If outside assistance is used to collect the account, the customer is responsible for all costs associated with the collection, including, but not limited to, attorney fees and court costs.