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Replacing the Decks

  Tree Removal Services  
 
 

Soon after moving in, we realized that much of the repair work - the leaking roof, the cracked north wall, the apparent lack of a proper foundation - depended on us first removing the seven Monterey Pines that were pressing against the house on the north side. The neighbor's house is only 6' 8" away at the upper part of our house, and 9' 7" opposite the "new wing." Somehow there were trees with 30" diameter trunks between our two houses. The branches overhung both houses and both of us had issues. Our neighbors were having dying branches falling on their house and knew that folks at their front stoop were at risk. And Rick, the prior owner of our house, had mentioned that his wife had actually been hit inside the kitchen as a pair of pine cones broke off from one of the towering trees and crashed through the skylight. So the trees had to go. While the cost would be split with the neighbors, it was still going to be expensive.

The first quote was from George Pecoraro at Happy Tree (415-380-8733). The price - $11,800 - sounded like a lot of money. The job would take a total of two weeks and he could begin next week. His contract had lots of small print about unforeseen nails and unforeseen pipes...

Tad, at Treemasters (3175 Kerner Blvd. San Rafael, CA 415-491-1009) spoke with my neighbor. He quoted $22,000 to $24,000. I think it was he who warned my neighbor about Happy Tree. I was told to watch out for all sorts of hidden costs, and was warned that the owner was a lawyer...

Pedro, from Pedro's Trees (415-459-4083) came and stared at them for what must have been 40 minutes. He came in with the lowest bid, $9,800. I asked to see his liability and worker's comp insurance, and he couldn't produce. I got nervous and passed on the low-cost provider.

George Lindstrom, from Geos Tree Care Arborists (415-461-6492 / 415-305-7526) came by and quoted in the $20,000 range. 

A few weeks later I contacted Happy Tree and told George about the gossip. He commented that it was a competitive business, and some of the competition wanted to compete via innuendo. He explained some of the bullets in his contract, and I did like the guy. Still - my neighbors were paying half the price, and they were unsure. George came up with pricing that would allow me to remove the trees that were on my side, and safety-trim the ones that were shared. He said he could remove the three upper trees for $6,600, and safety-trim the remaining four trees for $1,800.

Momentum on the tree work was disappearing when I found another vendor on Craigslist: Buena Vista Tree Service (PO Box 2081, Livermore, CA 925-449-1203 / 415-531-1247)

Trex, the owner, seemed rock-solid, and his bid was $12,500 - somewhat above Happy Tree. He had insurance and our neighbors liked him too. We signed.

The tree removal work was remarkable. First the seven trees were "poled" - stripped of their branches. Then they were connected via ropes, and 8' lengths were cut, and lowered via the ropes in the neighboring trees. Once one trunk was a few cuts shorter, the ropes were rearranged and another trunk was worked on. I raced home from work every day to watch this remarkable process.

Since this big tree job, I've had two more tree-removal tasks. Each time I've invited Buena Vista Tree Service and Happy Tree to bid. One time Happy Tree bid $1,500 and Buena Vista $2,800; the second time the Buena Vista bid was distinctly cheaper.

Summary:

A) I highly recommend both Happy Tree and Buena Vista Tree Service

B) Have both of them bid - you never know who needs the work that week.

 
 
Trees of this size did not belong between two houses 7' apart.

That's a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper, to emphasize the size of these beasts.

It was facinating to watch Buena Vista drop the trees.

The trees were "poled," then 8' lengths were lowered using the remaining poles.

 

 

 
 
 
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Last Updated Feb 2014.