It Pays To Shop Around

I’ve now gotten two more quotes on trimming the six trees closest to the house — two red oaks, three pecans, and one cedar elm — and I’m absolutely astounded at the huge difference.

If you’ll remember, the first person gave me a quote of $10,705 to trim these six trees, with the bulk of that (about $4,500) going towards my gorgeous, huge, 100-year-old red oak tree in the front yard. He said it not only needed to be trimmed, but it also needed to be cabled.

Large oak tree in front yard 2

So on your advice (as well as that of my family members, who also thought that quote was insanely high), I called two other places, both found via this website. (And thank you so much, Shelley, for giving me that link!!)

So here’s the comparison:

Quote 1: $10,705.00

All six trees trimmed, plus cabling the oak tree in front, and all debris hauled away.

Quote 2: $2,500

All six trees trimmed and all debris hauled away.

Quote 3: $1,850

All six trees trimmed and all debris hauled away.

Company #3 wins my business, but interestingly I had decided that even before he gave me his quote.

After we had talked a while, walked around the yard, and he explained to me everything that needed to be done (which was identical to the other two, with the exception of cabling the oak tree that the first one insisted was necessary), I just left him alone for a bit while he worked on his quote.

While I was waiting, I decided that if his quote was within $1000 of the quote the day before (up to $3,500), that he was getting my business. I just really liked him, he was very knowledgeable, confident in his information without coming across as cocky like the first guy, took the time to explain things to me and answer my questions, and I just felt really comfortable with giving him my business. So it was just an added bonus that his quote was the cheapest of the three.

And thanks to all of you, I knew what questions to ask. He’s a certified arborist who carries the appropriate insurance, plus each of his workers has workman’s comp.

He even took the time to explain to me that, regardless of who I hire, it is vitally important to ensure that every worker on my property is properly insured AND has workman’s comp. And he explained to me WHY those things were so important.

Here’s the funny part…

After he handed me his quote and I asked him about a few more things, I told him that he was actually the third person who has given me a quote. I told him there was a huge difference in prices between the first one and the second, and that the first one had quoted me $10,705 for this job.

Without even skipping a beat, he said, “Ha! Let me guess. Brian Williams.”

I was a bit stunned, and said, “Yes! That’s exactly who it was!”

He didn’t seem shocked in the least, and actually told me that he hears this on a very regular basis.

So for those of you in the Waco area, please do be aware that paying over $10,000 to have six trees trimmed is definitely NOT the norm for this area. 🙂 I honestly have no idea how Brian Williams gets any business in this area, but evidently he does. From suckers who don’t do their comparison shopping. (And yes, that could have been me had y’all not encouraged me to shop around!!) 🙂

On another note…

I apologize for the lack of DIY lately! It’s like I finished my floors, and then fell off the grid, right? 🙂

I feel like I’m kind of in a holding pattern right now. We’re waiting for our fridge and bed to arrive so that we can move into the house. And this condo feels like it’s getting smaller and smaller with each passing day, so I find it very difficult to actually get any work done here while we’re still living here. Plus, my website business has really skyrocketed in the last month!! I’m so thankful, because y’all know how much work our house needs, so I definitely need the money! But being so busy with that leaves precious little time to actually get projects done.

I’m hoping that as soon as we get into the house, things will start to pick up again, and I’ll start getting some projects done!!



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  1. Good for you for finding someone you’re comfortable with. That is so important. Did you ask him about the “need” to cable the tree in front? I ask because that double, or split trunk would concern me.

    1. I actually did ask him about that specifically (after he gave me his quote), and he said that he will cable a tree only if absolutely necessary, but he doesn’t like doing it at all. He said that what he’s found is that very often these old trees are perfectly fine UNTIL humans start messing with them, and when you cable a tree, you have to drill THROUGH the really big main branches that branch off from the main trunk, and you risk causing damage and stress to the tree. He said he doesn’t think my tree needs it. And I agree. 🙂 That tree has survived just fine for at least 100 years without cables.

        1. I am a cabinet painter by trade and bids from companies that do the same type of work can be ridiculously high to way to low, so I tell my clients “don’t let the price always dictate who you award the job to.” They should feel comfortable working with the person that is going to do the work much like how you felt with quote #3

  2. Wow!! What a difference! I’m also very, very envious – 6 trees for less than $2K? I was getting quotes of $1K – $2K per tree I wanted removed from my property. (Granted, removal is likely harder work than just trimming, since I also want the stumps grinded out.) I think this means I also need to comparison shop. It’s just that I always feel so bad when I do so, like I’m wasting the time of the people whom I don’t use. But money rules, at the end of the day!

    1. I forgot to add, I wonder if the first guy only does work for “rich” people, so he quotes insanely high prices, knowing that it’ll drive away the people who can’t afford him anyway. When I was getting quotes for getting my basement finished, one quote was absolutely off the charts by comparison to the others.

      1. That’s my guess. He’s used to working in the Swanky “hoods”. That’s fine- there are people who pay it and he knows it. But back in the real world, we have the awareness and know how to bid things out. Not just go with the highest bidder because we can. So glad this worked out for you! My question is how did you find the first guy? Because he’s obviously paying more for search engines and stuff if he came up first. lol

        1. Sounds to me like he just wants to work for rich people. Most of the wealthy don’t throw money away unnecessarily and are astute business people or they wouldn’t be wealthy for long!
          I was single for about 12 or 13 years before I remarried and I can tell you this attitude is by no means unusual. Anytime you are dealing with tradesmen and salesmen of any kind your best defense is the good old “Buyers Beware”. Thank goodness I worked in a male dominated field and got lots of good tips. I once had a mechanic tell me that the noise my car was making was because it needed the power steering belt replaced. Now that was very interesting to me since the car did not HAVE power steering. Just one example of many I could relate. So, research will save you bundles. I’m so glad you found some you can trust and feel comfortable working with.
          Once those trees are taken care of, you can get on with the next item on you massive list.

  3. Last year, my granddaughter was looking for someone to re-level their pier and beam house. She got bids from 3 different companies. The 3rd one was not only the cheapest, but went into detail on what they would do, explaining everything so she could understand. She was very impressed with his presentation and chose his company. She was very happy with the work of his company and would recommend them to anyone that needed this service. So it does pay to shop around and compare prices.

  4. Wow, the difference in prices is truly amazing, and what a great bonus that the guy you wanted to pick anyway had the best price!

    The sticker shock between things like this is sometimes amazing! The prices to paint the exterior trim on my old townhouse were similarly all over the place. Some of them I got the impression were really just too big an outfit for my little job so they gave prices like they were bringing a crew of twenty to paint a mansion just to move along to clients their size knowing I’d never pick them.

  5. It sure pays to get several quotes! You are right, it is SO important they are insured – be sure to get proof of insurance – he should give you proof of insurance for himself and each of his helpers in the form of a Certificate of Insurance with you and your property address as the Certificate Holder. Don’t let them start work until you have those certificates in your hand. The certificate will list insurance company name, policy number, effective date and type of insurance. Sorry to sound like I am preaching but that is the insurance agent in me that has issued many, many of these certificates for our clients. Any insured professional will have no problem with this.

  6. So happy for you! Sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you are just getting ripped off by the high dollar amount. Kudos to you for learning the difference. We needed a new sump pump and some work done in our crawl space because of water retention. We had a well known company come and give us a price. They listed above and beyond what we needed, kind of like your cabeling. The quote came in well over $20k, I thought I’d choke and quite frankly the guy was kind of cocky. We got three quotes and had a local, small two-guy company do it for $4k. Although we didn’t do all of the work the other company listed, this company wasn’t pushy, did a great job and it met our needs without going overboard and getting ripped off.

  7. I was pretty astounded your first quote, as I had several trees removed and several ground down, and several trimmed in my house in GA. The first quote was $1000.00, the second quote was $750.00, the third quote was $500.00. I went with the third, as well. All trees were properly removed, ground down, or trimmed. I think sometimes people bid on what they THINK you will pay.

  8. You used your intuition. Best indicator for me as well, but I have a propensity to pay more (or tip) the one who won my intuitive sway, when the bids come in so differently, because I also believe people need to be paid for their hard work as I expect to be as well and I have a new belief that we all should Pay More to save the world. (shop at the places that are doing the most good, even if a little more) Our own underground stimulus package. Especially when it is our local friends. The Wal M model is getting us nowhere. I checked your page on Website Building and loved it to say the least; but love that your prices are transparent and very appropriate. I built a site (not like you can) for a local business without knowing what to charge since I’m “Jackie of all Trades” and not a schooled IT person. They were happy, but I didn’t ask enough. Thanks for giving us all so many great tools. It’s what keeps traffic up as I’m sure you know. Your site is wonderful.

  9. Wow what a huge difference in those prices. I am astounded. I try to always get three quotes on those type of things. You should also do the same when you are ready to sell your condo. I found some estate agents like to over price your house just to get your business only for you to find out its worth less and in order to sell you have to reduce your price but worst it takes longer to sell.
    On another note, I for one like reading about your other adventures with your life and houses. I think we all understand that you are just one woman doing a lot of work. Projects take time and thought. Hope you have a wonderful day.

  10. SCORE! Way to go, Kristi. We are in the process of having our foundation stabilized with hydraulic piers. No, you do not want to hear the estimates for that! But, I knew who I was going to use (if he was in the ballpark price wise) before any prices came in because of the education they provided prior to even coming out to give us an estimate. Working with the right company can be more important than saving a few dollars – and you scored on both counts!

  11. Kristi so glad you found your guy – here in St Louis we have the same problem. Our old home was quite stately so when people gave us bids the magic number was always 5-8,000 for anything – I was so outraged i started learning DIY to take care of the problem My tree was where I drew the line since I took a nasty ladder fall inside with a 20 foot ceiling drop and sprang my ankle badly – Keep some of the oak wood and plan it into a nice frame then you will always have a memento of this story hanging around! Now where’s the next post! LOL We miss your stories – Linda

  12. Wow, that is such a relief! I told my husband how much you were quoted and his eyes almost fell out of their sockets! We have a tree that needs cut down and a few that need major trimming so this informaton is much needed! I don’t think you need to do diy all the time. Information like this is like gold!

  13. I’m glad you shopped around and found someone who was reasonable and you feel comfortable with. Thank God you didn’t go with the first guy. Talk about a rip off!

    I’m also happy your internet business is going well. That’s how you pay the bills.

    Once your appliances and bed show up, you can get moved and then will have time to finish and sell the condo.

  14. Too funny!!! I came to your blog on a link from a party you had joined. Your name was slightly familiar and when I looked at your picture, I thought “gee, she looks familiar”….then several things you said started ringing bells here and there. Sure enough…I looked at the “read more” under your picture and found out that we are in the same town :^) It is so fun to think I may have met a REAL blogger in Joann’s or Lowe’s.
    Blessings to you,

  15. I’m a huge fan of Brian Williams………the newscaster….too bad someone out there is giving him a bad name. So glad you got your price down. That would have been a huge chunk out of your budget.

  16. The beauty of three quotes at work!

    Did your arborist mention waiting until after the first frost to trim your oak? Or maybe you don’t get frosts in Texas? Anyway in Michigan our arborist advised the first frost wait period for us. Just a FYI.

    Small House / Big Sky Donna

  17. Wow that is absolutely crazy!! It totally does pay to shop around though. I am a firm believer in that! My Hubs and I always do all kinds of research and price shopping before we do anything relatively big like that. This is not anywhere near the realm of price difference that you experienced with the trees, but this is my recent “price shopping pays off” story. I bought a new vehicle a couple of years and got free oil changes for two years. Well, my free oil changes are up and I thought to myself that I would just continue getting my services there so I would know all work was always done by the dealer (I later realized that’s a totally ridiculous thought – LOL). Well, at my last oil change they told me I needed a tire rotation and balance and said it would cost around $120 altogether. I know pretty much nothing about cars so I just said I would hold off because I couldn’t afford it at the moment. Well, my Hubs works next door to a car company and that car company services all of my Hubs works vehicles AND gives the employees that work at my Hubs job a discount. He told me to give them a call and see what they said. I called and they’re quote was $32! I can’t believe I really almost paid $120. Whew. =]

  18. Hooray! Glad you did the sensible thing & got 3 quotes from legit people. Please don’t feel you “fell off the grid.” So much of home improvement and upkeep is researching procedures, setting up appointments, comparing them, thinking it all through again since it’s always a sizable investment, and then signing for it. It LOOKS as if nothing gets done, but it takes a lot of time!

  19. I am so glad that you shopped around and feel comfortable with who you have chosen. I wish you the best for you and your husband. I hope this house will be all that you hope it will be. You are amazing.

  20. Hooray !!!…. happy for you. A few phone calls saved you thousands. And you are also an asset to this fellow, as you will be great advertising for him.. (as you already are on here). Again….. HOORAY !!

  21. You know, Kristi, in the end it often DOES come down to the personal. We either click or we don’t . We either trust someone or we don’t.
    We’ve been getting (or…trying to get) estimates for redoing our stairs and also bathroom floor. Unlike your story here, no one gets back to us! I am amazed. The first guy, who I didn’t really like or trust, still has not emailed any estimate in a month. Yes, I could call and go after him, but I figure he doesn’t really need/want my business.
    Anyway, so glad this worked out for you…and now you will have to show us all the before and after photos!

  22. Holy mackerel, that is a MASSIVE difference in price quotes! I am so glad you found someone to do the job at a fraction of the cost of the first quote. I really wonder how people that quote astronomical amounts for work that can be done at a fraction even stay in business? It makes no sense to me. Even if he’d quoted one-half of his original quote, it would’ve been more in the ballpark and you might have gone with his company. Anyhow, I’m just glad we won’t be seeing you in a harness swinging from that oak tree with a chainsaw, and that you’re going to let a pro do the job vs. DIY-ing it yourself!



  23. Krisi-
    I am so glad we could help out! I am grateful you found 2nd and 3rd opinions and not only found someone who is qualified, but you feel you can trust! Good luck with everything and can’t wait till you can move in and start DIYing!

  24. What a great result and I think when we often go by our instinct we are rarely wrong.
    Many large trees survive several hundreds of years being staked to help support large limbs of very old or damaged trees, here in the UK we have many trees going back 500 years +, these stakes act as a crutch and are not invasively damaging to the trees at all, the cable method sounds extremely harmful and I’m glad you don’t need it. Here in the UK we have to get permission to alter or remove aged trees and that approval is not always forthcoming.

  25. I’m glad you got more quotes and found someone you jive with. The low bid is just a bonus. I AM a bit shocked that you didn’t think to get more than one quote. One thing I was always taught was to get at least three quotes (when it comes to these type of jobs).
    So so glad that is worked out in the end! (I looked at that website too for my area!)

  26. I’m so glad you got additional quotes for your trees! The new quotes are so much more realistic and the worker you chose sounds knowledgeable and professional. Beware of ones like the first guy who, not only inflate their prices, but also make owner’s nervous with horror stories of limbs crushing your home, etc. Overall, beware of any contractors with horror stories. They know how emotional we get over our homes, especially first ones, and will prey upon that emotion. Let your poker face be your friend and never let any body give you the old “well, I can give you this discount, but today only” That one reeks of bs! I for one enjoy reading about all the aspects of this adventure, the diy and other! I appreciate your sharing it all! Hugs, Leena