While on our way home from Italy, Greg and I got a message that no landlord ever wants to see. Via text message, one of our renters sent a photo of a huge ash tree that had fallen and crushed the fence and shed at our property. “Tree down,” the message read. “Call us when you get this.”

At first, I was pretty relieved. I mean, I would much rather have a tree crush a shed and a fence than the alternative: a house with people in it. I was very happy to hear that no one was hurt, but immediately went into solving-problem mode. What were we going to do about this huge tree? And when could we do it?

The first thing I did was call our insurance company. The tree fell and damaged my stuff, after all, and I pay a pretty penny for homeowner’s insurance. Amazingly, they cut a check for $1,900 a few days later. In truth, it was probably more than the claim was worth since the fence is old and the shed is basically a tear-down. We were also lucky in the fact that the city came and cleaned up the part of the tree that fell into the adjacent alley. Here’s what the fallen tree and damaged fence looked like by the time we got there:


You Want How Much?

Once we got the ball rolling with our insurance company, we called a tree service to come out and take a look. After waiting a few days, I found out they were happy to complete the job for $300, but wouldn’t be able to get started for three weeks. While that seemed like a fair price to me, I didn’t want my renters to have to look at it for that long. After all, they had already been incredibly understanding and patient about the whole thing. Unfortunately, the second tree company I called wanted a whole lot more to cut up the fallen ash tree – $750!

I have to be honest here: I totally hung up on the guy who wanted $750. I mean, it doesn’t get any lower skill than cutting up a tree with a chainsaw. Even if it took him eight hours, you don’t deserve $100 per hour to cut up a tree and chop wood with an ax. Sorry, but no. 

Still hot after talking to that delusional tree guy, I gave up the idea of hiring someone and decided we would try to do it on our own. If we could find the time and get the job done, we could save several hundred dollars in the process – and get some free firewood. Here’s what we did next.

We borrowed some tools.

Since we knew our small chainsaw wouldn’t cut it, we had to figure out what we needed to get the job done. But instead of heading to Home Depot, we asked around instead. Ultimately, we borrowed a huge chainsaw from a friend and neighbor. We already had a really good ax, and that helped a lot. One thing we did have to buy was a wood-splitter, and we paid around $10 for one at Lowe’s.

We brought in reinforcements.

Since I didn’t want to spend all day on the thing, I called in a family member for help. My cousin Mike was going to be in town anyway, and he’s practically a tree-chopping pro. He and his family live on 15 wooded acres and they use wood to heat their house, so he pretty much knows what he’s doing. We did pay him $140, but his help was worth way more than that. I can’t lift that much and Greg is having shoulder problems. Having an extra hand made a huge difference!

We chopped that M%&(@#$*#(@$R into a zillion pieces.

Our renters were looking at us with skepticism when we first started, but quickly changed their tunes once we started hacking the tree into smaller, more manageable pieces. We even went as far as splitting a bunch of it for firewood, too. It took some extra time, but made sense considering we were there and already had the tools out. Here’s a picture of my man cutting it up. Side note: If this isn’t hot, I don’t know what is.

tree 2

We stacked some firewood for our renters and cleaned up our mess.

Since this particular rental property has a fireplace, we asked our renters if they wanted some firewood. And once they said yes, we stacked a bunch of it up on the side of their home for them to use. Meanwhile, we loaded my dad’s truck with all the little sticks and branches so he could take them to the city burn pile when it opened. Thanks Dad!

We took the rest of the firewood home.

Since the tree was ginormous, there was plenty of firewood to go around. After chopping some up for our renters, we split a bunch more and brought it home in my van. Now, we’ll be ready when the temperatures start plummeting. We don’t have fires often, but I love it when we do.

We saved money.

Being a landlord isn't all rainbows and puppies. Sometimes, you have to fix things. Here's what we did with the giant tree that fell at our rental house.As I mentioned before, our insurance company cut us a check for $1,900 to cover damages. We still have to fix one segment of the fence, but so far we’ve only spent around $150 of that money. That’s pretty sweet. I also feel pretty good about the fact that I didn’t pay a whole bunch of money for something we could easily do ourselves. I mean, with three of us working, the entire thing took a little over three hours. And you wanted $750 for that? Pssshhhtttt….

Have you ever saved money by completing a big job on your own? Do you think $750 is a lot to ask for this type of job?

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