Why Should I Use A Qualified Tree Surgeon?
Are All tree surgeons the same?
All homeowners are responsible for ensuring any trees and shrubs lying within the boundaries of their property are safe and unlikely to cause injury to people or property. Hiring the services of a qualified tree surgeon to tackle any felling or to assess the health of your tree not only protects your family and those who visit or pass by your property from injury, but it will also help protect your liability. This means that if you’ve made every effort to make a tree safe and have used an experienced and qualified tree surgeon, then you should not be held responsible financially for any accidents or injuries or damage to public highways or property, all of which could run into millions of pounds.
Tree surgery is extremely dangerous due to the heights involved and the machinery used. This is another reason why homeowners with little or no experience should leave it to the experts. Tree surgeons undergo thorough training in a wide range of fields including chainsaw maintenance, chainsaw use, specialist climbing, aerial rescue, equipment maintenance and arboriculture. The danger to people and property is very high if tree surgeons do not have the appropriate training, experience and equipment. Aside from the health and safety issues, hiring a tree surgeon is the best option for the health of your trees. Poor tree care can have serious consequences to long-term tree health and it’s much better to invest in the experience and knowledge of a qualified tree surgeon.
Why should I not choose a tree surgeon based on price alone?
Good tree surgeons have very high running costs to maintain liability insurance, ongoing training, wages for qualified experienced staff and good equipment maintenance. Rogue traders bypass these costs and so can quote very cheaply.
If not done properly, bad tree surgery can lead to:
- Injury to people
- Damage to property
- Serious damage to your trees that have taken many years to grow
Who is liable if anything goes wrong?
A good tree surgeon will have public and employers liability insurance (recommended minimum £5 million) which will cover themselves, any employees and any 3rd parties affected by an unlikely accident. Rogue traders very often keep their prices down by bypassing overheads such as insurance premiums. In the event of an accident, you may find yourself liable for injury to people and/or property if a 3rd party is involved and with no means of contacting or finding the rogue trader.
What questions should I ask an Arborist
1. Are you insured?
If yes, ask them to show evidence of their Employers and Public Liability insurance (recommended minimum £5 million). If they cannot prove their insurance, don’t use this contractor
2. Do you work to a British Standard?
If yes, which one? They should tell you they work to BS3998:2010 Tree Work – Recommendations
3. What qualifications do you and your staff hold?
They must have NPTC certificates for chainsaw use both on the ground and aerially. Further training and qualifications are recommended. Ask to see copies of certificates.
4. Will you provide a written quotation?
If no, reject this contractor
5. Are you a member of a professional organisation?
In the UK there are several voluntary schemes certifying the competence of arborists through examination and regular reassessment including the Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor scheme and the Tree Care Approved scheme (otherwise known as trust mark). Other arborists may be equally competent, but membership of a professional organisation shows a degree of commitment to good working practices and high industry standards.
6. Can you provide a reference?
Reputable tree surgeons will be happy to show you examples of their work and provide references or testimonials.
Things to look out for and avoid when choosing a tree surgeon
Topping and lopping – Anyone who uses these phrases should be avoided as this is not an arboriculture term, anyone can lop a bit off and it is generally destructive to the tree. The use of the term “topping and lopping” shows a lack of understanding and usually poor work. BS3998 defines the terms which should be used and the use of “topping and lopping” proves that they do not work to the British Standard which we all have to work to.
Jack of all trades companies – Tree surgery, like most professional trades, requires a lot of dedicated equipment, staff and knowledge. Professional Tree Surgeons will have spent years (and a lot of money) on professional qualifications and will know nothing at all about laying a patio or putting up fencing. You are very unlikely to come across a “tree surgery, fencing, patio cleaning etc” company that works to good standards, safely and efficiently. Many of them sub-contract professional tree surgeons and charge you a premium for the professional’s work. Others just hack their way through the work and try to convince you that the work has been carried to the required standard.
“Your local tree surgeon” – It's a handy phrase but how do you know they are local to you? Look for a local landline number (avoid 0800 numbers too, they could be located anywhere) or a postal address.
No contact address – If there is a problem with the work you want to know how to get hold of the contractor. Make sure you have their address.
Cash up front – Tree surgery requires no outlay for materials apart from some chainsaw fuel and oil so there is no reason to ask for any cash upfront. You should only pay once you are completely happy with the quality of the work and clean up.