Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cutting and cleaning

(originally written August 15, 2011)
We have a big blue spruce out infront of our house that has seen better days. The folks that topped it before did it in a way that completely disregarded asthetics and eventually it just became overgrown.
This week we’re having someone come and chop it down because it’s to the point where it is not only an eyesore, but it a hazard as well.
On the other hand – we were told that the tree was probably planted directly infront of the window to conserve energy by blocking out sunlight - which reduces cooling costs in the summer.
Our thought? It’s winter MUCH longer than it is summer here in upstate NY and the snow on the tree poses as more of a threat than having a slightly higher energy bill. We’re also planning on putting curtains up – that will help a great deal.
After getting a few quotes from insured professionals we found someone that will not only cut down the tree, but grind up the stump and mulch so we can grow grass or whatever else where the tree was (YAY!)
Whenever you’re having a professional do work on your home make absolutely sure that they are insured and have references. If something happens and Joe Schmoe falls out of the tree and breaks his leg and isn’t insured – Joe can sue you to cover those costs through your homeowner’s insurance. No fun. Also, check the references. No really. Check them. Sure they may get the job done, but they may not do as good of a job as what you feel you paid for. If you’re paying hundreds of dollars to have a tree removed and they hack up your yard to the point of it costing you a LOT more to get it back to where you want it – you might’ve been better off paying a little more for someone to do a good and thorough job.
After the tree is gone we’re going to transplant a little red maple seedling over to that spot so we still get some of the same benefit the spruce provided without having a gigantic tree. It’s an ornamental maple, so it won’t get very tall (no taller than the house) and it won’t be so dense that we can’t see the road. That’s the project for next weekend. Garry and his friend are tearing out the planter today and sometime in the fall we’ll plant some bulbs and see how green our thumbs are come spring.
We’re also having our furnace cleaned this week. We decided that we should just have it cleaned and see if it needs to be replaced this year or if we’re okay waiting a few years before worrying about it. The company we’re working with has an excellent reputation (we’ve checked references) and has been very good about calling us back and being informative. 
Something I’ve noticed – when you tell people you’re a new homeowner, some companies are very eager to win your loyalty. This seems to be one of those companies. So sure, if you mention that you’re a first-time homeowner some companies might be a little more willing to go to the extra mile to make sure you become a loyal customer (and refer them to your other first-time homeowner friends) BUT on the other side of the coin – they may try to take advantage of you by including services you don’t necessarily need. Think everything over before agreeing to anything, do your research, ask people who have been homeowners for a while (parents, relatives etc) and make sure that the company isn’t pulling the wool over your eyes.