Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Joys of Home-Ownership, Part II

This week I've spent some time obtaining estimates for tree removal. As I mentioned in my last post, during last week's snow storm (of which, by the way, almost no more snow remains), we noticed a tree in our back yard that is leaning over in such a way that it could easily fall the next time we have an ice storm. So we have received some widely varying opinions and estimates, which I will share below:

Orange Valley Tree Experts
Rene from Orange Valley Tree Experts was the first to come take a look at our demising tree on Tuesday morning. His opinion was that the tree was just "growing for the morning sun" rather than looking ready to fall. He suggested crowning the tree, basically taking off a huge chunk off the top to get rid of some of the weight, which he estimated would cost $600 - $700.

Tree-Tech Inc.
Tree-Tech sent Jeffrey out to survey our tree. Jeffrey is an ISA Certified Arborist #NE6288A. He disagreed with Rene's assessment, and said that the tree should come down. He did note that it was difficult to tell whether the tree's root system was starting to bulge due to all the snow on the ground. He also identified another tree in our yard, the one right next to our garage that stands tall and straight, but looks a little haggard in the upper half, as needing to be pruned. Like Rene, Jeffrey agreed that the leaning tree would have to be cut down by hand, since they would not be able to fit a crane into our back yard. Jeffrey gave us a written estimate of $1,115 to remove the leaning tree, and $180 to prune the other tree.

Tree King
I spoke with someone from Tree King over the phone that same day. I already knew I wouldn't want to hire these guys just because the guy's attitude rubbed me the wrong way. Someone from Tree King did stop by later the same day to look at the tree, and he left a written estimate in our mailbox - $2,750. Yikes!

Maplewood Tree Experts, Inc.
Bobbie came to see us bright and early on Wednesday morning. Bobbie was very courteous and informative. He also agreed that the tree needs to be removed, and that due to space limitations, it would need to be done by hand. Bobbie also mentioned that the tree next to our garage would need to have something done with it, but said for now we'd focus on the tree I called him about.

One thing I liked about Bobbie is that he also explained to me how to go about making sure whichever company we select is properly insured for the job. He asked me what kind of estimates I've been getting so far, and said we should probably go with the folks that estimated $1,115, provided they have the proper insurance. Bobbie said that he'd mail us a written estimate, but that it would likely be between $1,800 and $2,200. We received Bobbie's written estimate in the mail yesterday - it was $1,950 to take down the tree, and $225 to grind out the stump.

Bobbie also shared an interesting tidbit, which I have not yet confirmed, that because the tree, a silver maple, was still alive, so if it fell, by law it would be considered an "act of God", which apparently means that anyone's property it landed on would be responsible for that portion of the tree. Based on where the tree is located, and the direction in which it's leaning, we'd only be responsible for about three feet of it if it fell! Bobbie wasn't really suggesting we do that though, and we certainly don't want to be bad neighbors like that. But it did make me feel a little bit better, should anything happen before we get everything sorted out for it's removal.

Trusty Tree
Late Wednesday afternoon, Guy from Trusty Tree stopped by to take a look at our tree. Guy says he has a small crane that probably could fit between our house and our neighbor's fence, so he wouldn't necessarily have to do the job by hand. He also identified the tree next to our garage as needing to come down sometime soon, since some of the main branches appear to be hollow. Guy made a verbal estimate of $1,400 - $1,500 to remove the leaning tree. I didn't ask for an estimate on the second tree at this point.

The Township
I should also mention that on Monday I contacted the town via their web site, asking whether there were any ordinances we should know about concerning the removal of this tree that may fall over onto our neighbors' property. It took two days for me to get a response, which said we needed to have the town forester come inspect the tree to determine how much the permit would cost. The woman who responded, Toni, also said that the forester only comes in on Mondays, and that he woulnd't be able to come out until the 27th because this coming Monday is a holiday. Toni closed by also stating that we need to notify, in writing, all of our contiguous neighbors that the tree is being removed, and we need to prove to the town that we did so.

So I responded to her email with a few questions. As I expected, Friday rolled around and I still did not hear back from her or anyone, so I called the town to follow up. It turns out Toni was out of the office until next week, but the woman I spoke with, Tina, turned out to be very helpful. First of all, she said she would try to get the forester to come look at the tree that same afternoon. Also, she told me we would be able to get all of our neighbor's names and addresses from the tax assessor's office, and that to prove we notified our neighbors, we'd just need to send the letters by certified mail. Why Toni was unable to relay any of this informaiton to me in her first message is beyond me.

And kudos to Tina for her helpfulness because John the forester did indeed come out to see our tree on Friday afternoon. At first, John thought we had meant the tree next to the garage - when I showed him the leaning tree, he said we really needed to have both of them come down because they are both dangerous. Our town is also very fussy about trees being cut down... in exchange for getting the permit for free, we need to plant two new trees to replace the old ones.

So anyway, that's the latest installment of the saga of the trees - now it's not just one, but two trees that need to come down!

No comments: