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Question DetailsAsked on 9/25/2017

I just received two bids of 1500 and $2400 to remove a root blockage from a city tree about 30 ft to city sewer

This requires digging up front (no grass left) lawn , removing root ball and installing in place a two way "y" between the house drain and main city sewer line. Is this the average cost range? I am getting significant less cost numbers on the internet for similar jobs

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1 Answer


Depends on your locale (this job can cost about 4 times as much in Boston or NYC or SFO as in the deep south - both because of deeper pipe depth to get below frost line and differences in labor costs.

I would ask how much of the bid is city permit cost and any costs for repair of sidewalk (if being dug up) and any city/utility connection costs - that can be a big number in some areas, negligable in others.

Those sort of $, unless this is a gigantic oak or chestnut or such with say a 4' or larger diameter (at chest height), would lead me to think you are going down 6-10 feet to the pipe. Or tht you areremoving the entire root mass of a large tree, which might be as much as 20' orso in diameter for the larges size roots.

With two bids you really, unless they are pretty close, do not know if one or the other is unreasonable or if maybe they bracketed the most likely average pirce for the job. Get a third bid and you start getting a pretty good idea of who is possible unreasonably low or high - or at least needs to be talked to about why their bid is so far from the others. Bear in mind on most jobs it is not at all uncommon for there to be at leat a 2:1 range between high and low bids - even on jobs worth tens or hundreds ofr millions of $ I have seen as much as 2:1 or even more between the high and low responsive bids - sometimes because of lack of full comprehension of the scope or requirements, sometimes because one contractor beats out the others by coming up with an innovation or having equipment on-hand which makes his cost less or productivity higher, sometimes due to bidding errors, maybe one is hungrier than the others or has crews/equipment availalbe because of an early job completion or cancellation, sometimes becauses the contractor isnot proiperly licensed or bonded/insured or is not even operating legally (paying taxes and worker's compensation and such), etc. The key is to be sure, BEFORE you agree to a bid, that the low one(s) are responsive and the contractor is capable of doing the job and has presented a realistic cost so you don't get stuck with an incompetent contractor or one who is losing money from day one.

One other thought - if the contractor is having to get rid of the rootball (and maybe the tree ?) then for a large tree this is sounding on thelow side to me - because getting rid of a say 50-100 year old large tree and rootball (including backfilling the rootball hole) can commonly run $1000-1500 or more itself - which if that is the case would drop the plumbing portion into the $500-1000 range you have probably been getting on the web for just the sewer line repair portion.

One other thought - unless you do not have a cleanout at all on the run to the street, why are you digging it up rather than just boring through it - or is your sewer line clay or ornageburg or asbestos or really deteriorated cast iron - because commonliy you can bore right through any blockage whjich has just blocked the line (not been growing into the line and blocking it substantially for a long time) and then keep the roots at bay using RootX or similar. This assuming you have not seen by camera that the line is already cracked up by the roots.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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