Arborist (tree surgeon) cost?

So, a guy I met in a bar is a tree surgeon. He was lamenting his bachelor life and accompanying lack of home cooked meals, so my gf offered to make an oxtail stew in exchange for his advice on our ornamental trees. We really just expected his suggestions on what we should do.

So he showed up Sunday with all his supplies; climbing rig,chainsaw, handsaws, lopers, etc and proceeded to spend three hours working on our trees. He insisted he needed to do all this to work up an appetite, and indeed the stew was incredible. He also pointed out that the timing was perfect for the work he did (sap related). The trees look fantastic and we learned a lot as well.

But I’m wondering what it would have cost us if we had hired someone to do three hours worth of work, mostly so I know how many beers I should buy for the guy the next time I see him.

I had some tree work at my house a couple of years ago, after some major falling branches that just barely missed causing serious damage. The high end of estimates from companies with glossy brochures and branded trucks was about $4K. Some of those were recommended by tradesmen I know, but I kept at it and finally found a guy in my town who looked and said it would need a crane but his old boss could do it. It ended up being a crane and 2 guys for a day for $1K. I did confirm they were covered for insurance, including worker’s comp. The crane, tools, and rigging equipment has gotta be worth charging close to $500 a day, so that seemed a very fair price on the labor, in the $25 to $50 an hour range. I know for roofers the worker’s comp fees alone can be 5 to 10 bucks an hour, and I assume arborists would be similar.

Two beers and a barley-wine it is, then!

I had a tree topped (hurricane damage) next to my house for 400, he gave me a ‘professional discount’ for being a paramedic. Also he gave free advice such as “don’t do this if you’re not a professional” when he saw me watching him closely.