What to Ask When Hiring a Land Clearing Contractor
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Are you planning to do major construction on your property soon? It’s time to think about hiring a land clearing contractor to prepare the space for building and upgrades.
If you’ve never scheduled a land clearing project before, you might be wondering how to find the right contractor. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask any company before committing. Take a look to understand what elements are the most important during your hiring process.
1. Have You Done a Clearing Job Like This Before?
Land clearing projects aren’t all the same. Your property may have features that a contractor hasn’t dealt with before.
- How big is the area?
- What types of trees and debris occupy it?
- When does the job need to be finished?
These are all questions you should have answers to before you start the hunt for a contractor. They’ll need to know details like these in the first conversation.
We highly recommend sharing as much as you can about the job with every contractor you interview. You may find that some are very experienced with projects like yours. Others might not be.
If a contractor claims to have tackled similar clearing projects before, ask how they approached them.
- What were their strategies?
- What kind of equipment and techniques did they use?
The more you can find out now, the more certain you can be that they’re experienced enough for the job.
2. Can You Show Me Your Licenses and Registration?
You don’t want just anyone operating dangerous tools on your property. Ensure right away that your contractor is insured and certified to take on your project. They should be liable for any damage and injuries that occur while clearing – not you.
When asking for contractor certifications, don’t take their word on it. Request tangible proof of any paperwork and certificates, just to be certain. You can never be too careful when it comes to big land clearing projects that are vital to your construction.
Any land clearing contractor worth hiring should be able to immediately provide hard copies of their insurance, licenses to work, necessary permits, and certificates. For state-by-state guides to land clearing requirements, check out this Next Insurance post.
3. What Are Your Project Safety Precautions?
You want to know that the contractor you’re hiring prioritizes safety. Ask upfront about how they plan to keep employees and nearby people safe during the project.
- What safety equipment do they use?
- What are their plans if something goes wrong?
- How are all of their employees trained to handle dangerous tools and situations?
The United States Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration cites companies every year for unsafe land clearing practices. According to OSHA, all clearing contractors are expected to:
- Develop, implement, and enforce specific written safe work practices.
- Train employees on hazard recognition and safe work practices in tree removal operations.
- Assess and secure the area before their employees start work.
- Remove all dead trees or materials that may expose workers to unsafe working conditions.
- Develop a specific tree felling protocol (used when facing damaged and/or dead trees).
- Establish a safe positioning of employees during all parts of the job.
- Define a means of safe egress for each job site – where will people go if trouble arises?
If the employer does not take these requirements seriously, they will face serious fines and/or punishments from OSHA. These penalties can easily cost the contractor as much as $5K, but the dangers and mishaps can also cost you thousands in damage.
There are lots of things that can go wrong during land clearing. Take safety protocols seriously, and if the contractor seems to skimp on policies or hem and haw about accident prevention, run the other way.
4. Do You Have References?
You wouldn’t hire a masseuse without asking around for recommendations – why not do the same for land clearing contractors?
Any contractor worth their stuff should be able to provide solid references (that are verified) at the drop of a hat. If you have any hesitation at all, speak to past customers. Find out what they liked about working with the contractor, and what they didn’t.
Don’t just rely on testimonials shared on the website. Although these can be good starting points, you want to find real people with real stories to share.
5. What Is the Estimated Cost of the Project?
Lastly, you need to ask potential contractors about their prices. Land clearing costs can vary dramatically based on:
- The size of the property being cleared.
- The size and number of trees that need to be removed.
- Whether or not debris can be burned in the area.
- How much debris will need to be hauled to and disposed of at a landfill?
Discuss all of these pricing factors with the contractor upfront. Generally, you can expect to pay at least $1 to $2 per square foot of property that needs to be cleared. The more wooded the area is, the more you will likely need to pay.
According to Thumb Tack, the national average cost for a land clearing project is between $1,200 and $6,000. You must also remember that you (the property owner) are responsible for obtaining necessary permits and expectations, which can cost up to $250 depending on where you live.
Don’t ever go with the first contractor you speak with, even if their prices seem reasonable. Ask at least a couple of other contractors what their cost estimates are to be sure you’re getting a fair deal.
Once you do have the price estimates, ensure they are written down. You want these costs detailed in black-and-white so there’s no confusion later on.
We hope this post has helped you feel more prepared for hiring a land clearing contractor. Just remember the more questions you can ask up front, the better.
If you’re in the Santa Cruz area, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for land clearing services. We’ve been working locally for more than four decades and are proud to offer professional tree care services. Whether you’re clearing a residential or commercial property, we can help.
Our tree and land services include:
- Tree care
- Stump grinding
- Dead/dying tree evaluation
- Property line inspections
Everyone on the Christianson Tree Experts team is fully licensed and insured. We take safety seriously, so you can rest assured that we’ll tackle your land clearing project with the utmost care.
Call 831-338-6984 today for a free estimate. We are ready to take on local Santa Cruz projects quickly.