1. How long have you been in business?
2. I would like an estimate on some tree work-do I need to be home?
No, not necessarily, especially if there is access-no locked gates, and no vicious dogs or other creatures, and if the job is fairly straightforward-the experienced estimators are very capable and generally know exactly what to look for. Simply fill in the customer contact form, being specific about what you need done (or call us if you prefer), and an estimator will drive by and take a look at the trees and leave you a free, written estimate.
3. I prefer to be home for the estimate-how long does that take to schedule?
In our primary areas, Montgomery County and most of DC, and upper/Northern Prince George’s, usually well within a week, sometimes same day. But that depends on your flexibility, availability, and of course our work load at the time. But our estimators are usually in and out of the same neighborhoods several times a week, so generally not to long. Unless there is a compelling need, we try to avoid rush hours when running estimates. For those customers with limited flexibility/availability or who are in a rush, a drive by usually is best.
4. How long does it take to get to the work?
Once you sign, most standard jobs can be done within two business weeks, sometimes in just a day or so, depending on our work load, size of the job, and other factors. All jobs are performed weather permitting. We strive to start and complete jobs in a timely fashion, however bad weather, periods of sustained storms or storm damage can delay a job. We can rush jobs if need be, and if you are in a particular hurry. Of course emergency work takes precedence and we will usually be on site for an emergency situation within a couple of hours.
5. Do I need to be there for the job?
Usually not-but many customers at least like to be there at the start-but it’s generally not necessary. The estimator will always brief the crew in detail about the job, and will give them a written copy of the work order. The estimator will frequently stop by a job to check on progress, and/or the crew will call him or the customer with any questions.
6. Do you haul away all the brush, debris and wood?
It’s all noted in writing, on the contract that brush, debris and rakings resulting from a pruning or removal are hauled- except for stump grindings, if applicable which incur an extra charge; we can leave the wood for you in fireplace lengths, or haul-your choice.
7. We’re not in a rush; are there less busy times of the year when we might receive a discount?
Yes! Although we feel that our prices are very competitive with other licensed, certified and insured companies and we offer regular promotions, discounts, and coupons, some months of the year are less busy than others and warrant an automatic discount. Winter is generally slow, and to keep our crews busy, you can get a great deal on tree work. If you have an existing proposal, simply call us to renegotiate it, and if you want to receive an estimate, you can be assured of steeply discounted pricing.
8. So it’s ok to prune in winter? Can you see the deadwood as easily with the leaves off the trees?
Winter is an excellent time to prune, and we work all year-round. Our highly experienced crews can easily discern deadwood from a live defoliated limb. Call us to set up winter work-it’s a win-win situation-you receive substantial discounts, quicker turnaround, and our crews stay busy.
9. Do you perform emergency work?
Yes, absolutely! We respond almost immediately to imminent hazards and/or trees or large limbs fallen on homes or other structures. Call us at 301-681-5800 or 202-387-8733 for rapid response. Don’t use e-mail in an emergency! We are available 24/7 and can usually mobilize a crew within a few hours to stabilize a condition. We also work with all insurance companies.
10. We may need a permit to remove a tree-can you help us with that?
Yes, no problem. Many municipalities require permits for tree removal. DC, for example requires permits for tree removal over 55” circumference (18” diameter), with a few exceptions. As certified arborists we can sign off on the DC Special Tree Application. Check your municipality for their requirements. The ultimate responsibility for a permit is the customers, but we will advise and assist where we can.
11. We always check with The Better Business Bureau before we hire a company. Is Takoma Tree Experts a member?
Yes, we are an accredited member and have an A+ rating with the BBB
12. What is OSHA?
OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal agency in charge of enforcement of safety and health legislation. Takoma Tree adheres to and follows all OSHA regulations as applicable to arboricultural practices.
13. What is ANSI?
The American National Standards Institute or ANSI is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States.
ANSI accredits standards that are developed by representatives of standards developing organizations, government agencies, consumer groups, companies, and others. These standards ensure that the characteristics and performance of products are consistent, that people use the same definitions and terms, and that products are tested the same way. ANSI also accredits organizations that carry out product or personnel certification in accordance with requirements defined in international standards. (From Wikipedia)
TCIA ANSI care practices.
14. Is a Maryland Licensed Tree Expert the same as an arborist?
Not necessarily-of course many LTE’s are respected and knowledgeable arborists, and had to prove competency and experience by sitting for a comprehensive exam and fulfilling other requirements. But in 2007, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources waived those requirements and handed out licenses to many individuals, with nothing more than some documentation that the applicant had been engaged in the tree business.
15. WHAT??! You mean the LTE I may hire may not have ever proved competency, taken an exam or shown steady documented experience?!
That’s right. Shop carefully. When Maryland law changed in 2007 to require a license to remove trees (it had previously been needed only to prune), the legislature thought the hurdles and obstacles would be to high for many individuals to surmount, (yet, ironically isn’t the whole point of licensing to weed out those individuals who can’t prove competency? That’s how it has always been, and is in every field-and all LTE’s who were licensed before the amnesty program overcame those so-called obstacles!). So they gave away licenses, so as not to inconvenience those people already removing trees with the added burden of having to actually study, take an exam and prove experience in order to acquire a license! Certainly instead of giving away licenses, they could have issued restricted, temporary or provisional licenses, limiting the licensee to removals only for example, or changed some of the requirements- but Maryland gave it all away!
16. This is hard to believe. Let me get this right-licenses were given away, because Maryland didn’t want to burden un-licensed applicants already engaged in tree work with the licensing requirements that they had imposed since 1949?!
That’s correct. They diluted the ranks of honest, knowledgeable LTE’s who had sat for a lengthy, comprehensive exam and jumped all the hurdles to licensure, with many “experts” who may only have a rudimentary knowledge of pruning, safety and business issues. Imagine any other trade being gifted licenses--your electrician, plumber, etc.-very disturbing-especially in a high risk, highly skilled business, where mistakes can be irreversible and even tragic.
17. Whew! I never would have known! I don’t want to spend my hard earned money with someone who was simply given a license as a gift; I want to be sure that whoever I hire received their license by proving competency-how can I tell the difference?
Good question. Many licensees who were gifted their licenses share many traits with those who are unlicensed (that’s not surprising when you think about it). The DNR has some advice and pointers on how to spot shady firms-they tend to advertise topping, an unacceptable practice for example. If you call the Maryland Forest Service Division at 1-877-620-8DNR they may tell you if someone was given or worked for their license. To read more just click here. We may also be able to help, and will always give you honest feedback, so you can make an informed decision.
18. So what does the Maryland Tree Expert License really mean?
Firms who prune or remove trees in Maryland (there are some size conditions and exceptions) must be licensed. Also DNR, the licensing agency requires proof of liability insurance for each licensee. The license is renewed every two years, but no continuing education is required to keep it. So the license serves a regulatory function, but is no guarantee of arboricultural competency, but certainly it can be a gage, especially for those who actually sat for the exam.
19. How long has the owner of Takoma Tree Experts, LLC. been a LTE?
Since 1992, way before the amnesty program.
20. So given what I know now about the license give away program, how can I more readily judge competency and experience, safe and proper work and arboricultural practices? After all I want my trees pruned correctly, and I certainly don’t want injuries on my property.
A respected designation to look for is The International Society of Arboriculture’s Certified Arborist. ISA certification is voluntary and not required in MD, DC or VA, but those who have it, tend to take arboriculture more seriously, and although not a guarantee of competency is definitely a step in the right direction for a consumer trying to make a decision. Passing an intensive, rigorous exam, as well as documented experience and on the job training are required in order to become a certified arborist. Documentation of continued education is mandatory, and a code of ethics must be adhered to.
21. Anything else I should check when hiring an arborist?
Look for a company that indicates they adhere to ANSI and OSHA protocols and standards, as well as those of the leading arboricultural organizations, ISA, TCIA, and locally MAA. Check references, ask colleagues or friends for recommendations, ask the estimator or staff questions and see how you feel about them; do they seem professional? Knowledgeable? How long have they been in business? Is the estimate in writing with contact numbers, e-mail, licensing and certification information noted on the proposal? Do they advertise topping or other unacceptable practices? Check The BBB and governmental agencies-Division of Consumer Affairs for example. Trust your gut.
22. Why is it important that my tree contractor be insured?
Insurance is a must, and also the law in this business, one of the top 10 riskiest and dangerous avocations in the United States. Make sure the insurance covers tree operations-after all most certificates look very similar. Always have the insurance agent fax or e-mail you a copy of the insurance- it doesn’t mean much if the contractor shows you a certificate of insurance- it could be expired, and/or not cover tree work. And follow up with a very specifically worded e-mail to the insurance agent asking if tree operations are indeed covered-that way you have it in writing.
23. What does liability insurance cover?
Damage to any property, public utilities and passersby. Takoma Tree Experts, LLC. carries liability up to $2,000,000.00. We’ll be glad to have our insurance agent send, fax or e-mail you a certificate of insurance upon request.
24. What is Workmen’s Compensation and why is it so important?
For any other questions don’t hesitate to call or e-mail us.
Workmen’s Comp covers an employee if he becomes injured or disabled, and provides for lost wages and/or occupational re-training and having it is the law. Follow the protocol for insurance in the above question in requesting and checking Workmen’s Comp. Any company that doesn’t carry workmen’s comp doesn’t care about their employees and is violating the law.