A massive dead oak tree haunts your backyard. It’s time to remove it, so you think, “I can handle this! Besides, how hard can tree removal be?”
Before you begin chopping or sawing away at that giant trunk of liability, you should consider how much it may cost you to do it yourself. The cost of safely and efficiently removing one dead tree may cost you far more than you may think. Let’s start with the basics:
You need the right equipment to get the job done. An undersized chainsaw will burn up its motor and fail (trust us: we’ve been there, done that!). The right chainsaw is about both horsepower and tongue length. Our Fielding Tree crews typically uses 14″ Stihl chainsaws with safety guards. You may be able to borrow a comparable-sized chainsaw, but a new Stihl 14″ chainsaw will cost around $800. (Source)
Call me crazy, but I’m guessing you probably don’t have certified training in forestry maintenance. Felling a large tree isn’t just about cutting two wedges and yelling “Timber!” You need the right technique to keep yourself and your property (and your neighbor’s prized Mustang) from getting crushed. Getting proper instruction will cost you at least a few hours in time. A certified forestry class will cost you several hundred dollars, but can you really put a price on staying alive and on your neighbor’s good side?
What happens if you do hurt yourself or your property while dropping this mighty oak? If you’re only slightly injured (only?) and have to miss work, you’ll be out at least a few vacation days, plus a doctor’s bill or two. If you’re more severely injured, who knows how much that might cost you. A basic workmen’s compensation insurance policy will give you the injury protection you need. An additional insurance policy will also provide liability coverage to cover risk of property damage. Both of those policies will be a couple hundred dollars.
After you’ve spent significant time purchasing equipment and insurance coverage, plus learning the right technique, now you have the cost of removing the demolished pieces. Spoiler alert: your trash company won’t just accept a 12-foot log stuffed in your 55-gallon trash can; it won’t even fit! Now, you can cut the timber into firewood, but safely storing a large amount of firewood takes time and work to create. If you have the acreage, using a dead tree for firewood is a great idea. If you’re in Denver proper, this may not be realistic.
The real intangible is your time: how much time will it cost you to plan, prepare, execute the oak tree, and clean up after the deed is done? If it costs you only three hours to fell, reduce, and remove a 40-foot oak tree, calculate that by how much you make per hour at your job. If that’s $40.00/hour, the cost in time is already at $120.00.