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Wood scroungers - do you ever make property owner sign liability waiver?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by tradergordo, Nov 20, 2006.

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  1. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Just curious because I've been scrounging wood this year, a couple of "free tree" offers looked tempting to me but I passed because I would have to fell the trees near houses and I don't climb trees or do any sort of top down cutting (as a novice). But I was thinking if they REALLY wanted me to do the job (mostly cheapskates who won't pay $1000+ to a tree service) I might do it if they signed some sort of liability waiver.

    Have any of you used waivers? If you have a sample I would love to see exactly how its worded. Also opinions on if this is a good idea in general? Maybe it should be done for almost any job even an already fallen tree just to cover your butt. And would it hold up in court under a worst case scenario?

    I'm thinking about this today because yesterday I went to buck a fallen tree in a development's "open space" and an angry homeowner next to the space came out and thought I was going to damage the land (kill some grass or leave some tire tracks or something) and he said he would hold me liable, so I calmly told him there was plenty of other wood I can get and if he was concerned about it then it wasn't worth it to me (so now a nice cord of premium hardwood will go to waste rotting in the woods instead of heating my house next year). Obviously a liability waiver wouldn't apply to this situation, but it got me thinking about what would happen at other jobs if I did actually damage someone else's property somehow...

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My first bit of advice is not to attempt to fell trees that have (even a remote) chance of hitting anything of value, waiver or no waiver. You're not a tree service professional, after all, and you shouldn't be trying anything fancy.

    Bearing that in mind, I think it would be rather insulting if someone is offering you something for free and you ask them to sign some sort of document limiting their rights. If a handshake won't do it, then walk away.

    More likely, landowners are going to want you to sign a waiver saying you won't sue them if you get hurt.
  3. suematteva

    suematteva New Member

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    Same as what Eric said.

    With the guy holding you liable etc..If you had permission to get the wood and you leave it in a professional manner, explain this to him?

    For instance if a downed tree in somebody's yard that tree service has left all the big wood, I rake up the saw dust and leave it clean.
  4. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Hmmm, how about make it "dual purpose" that way you can say "this will protect both of us" and include in there are bit about you not holding the property owner liable for injuries, etc. That way both sides have a reason to sign and protect themselves.

    I agree with you in principle, so far I've done everything on a handshake and that's the way I prefer it really, but I was wondering if maybe that could turn into a big mistake one day. Some jerk could claim you damaged their lawn or something (even if you didn't), or you might damage one of their other trees when felling a tree for example, there are endless things that could happen.
  5. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    2 days ago my neighbor came over and told me he is replacing his deck which had 2 trees through it and 2 leaning on it that he wanted out and could I fall them. Went over took a look. 2 not much of a big deal but 2 leaning right at the house1 away. I told him the liability was too great and hed better get a pro.Found a guy who was licensed and insured and got it done for 325$. Then he comes over and says all he paid for was falling and if I wanted the wood it was mine. 4 Cedars about 60 - 80 foot with2' butts for free. I dont really need any more Cedar but who can turn down free wood next door?
  6. philaphire

    philaphire Member

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    Actually, I've thought about this some from a broad economical point of view. We wood scroungers need to think about the long term impact of what we do. For example, mr. cheapskate says "I'll let you cut down my tree for free so you can have fire wood!" (Tradergordo - we're in the same area and have probably seen those same craigslist posts) I think we do harm by doing it by not only the potential liability, but what does it mean when you do something for free for a stranger that has a value of $1,000 just for the benefit of wood that is worth $250 split, delivered, and stacked? Moreover, I think of the posts that say "firewood, $50 per truck load, still needs to be split" This is also from mr. cheapskate who didn't want to pay the money for the tree service to haul it away. I think what we should do is not let mr. cheapskate take advantage of us. That is, to the person who will graciously let us cut down his trees so we can have the wood, we offer that for FREE we will haul the wood away after the tree company cuts it down. I don't want us scroungers to be known as being the cheapest type of people! I don't believe we're "cheap" The cost of our stoves and saws and such indicate such. Rather, we are frugal and just plain smart and willing to work in order to have "heat for free."
  7. adrpga498

    adrpga498 Minister of Fire

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    Frugal, great choice of words. I do not fell trees. I offer to buck clean up and leave. I do believe a hand shake will hold up in muni court as a "contract" I also would give the neighbor worried about a mess after you got permission another " F " word . And it aein"t frugal.
  8. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I don't know. I'm cheap. And I don't see any reason why a person should pay for the wood to be hauled away when they know it will be happily picked up by another person for free. That doesn't necessarily sound cheap to me. It sounds smart. I also don't see why one should have to pay for wood if they don't want to, can get it for free, and don't mind processing it.

    Call it what you want. I want my money to work for me. If I'm paying the gas company I certainly can't be investing it... or at the least spending it on something I'll enjoy. Discretionary income is a beautiful thing... It doesn't need to be allocated to anything in particular. If you want to put it away for a rainy day, cool. If you want to go on vacation with it, cool. If you want to invest it, cool. In comparison, sending it to the gas company doesn't sound like nearly as much fun.

    Matt
  9. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    There is too much free wood around here that doesn't involve me dropping a tree on somebodie's house, car, shed, etc. I simply tell people that I'm not trained and experienced enough to be doing something like that. I have dropped a couple trees that had a chance of damaging my own property....and I've paid to have a monster sweet gum that was 15 feet in front of my house taken down because I knew that it wouldn't just fall on my house but it would cut it in half like a cheese slicer. For the money you will save it just isn't worth the risk. move on to the next house.
  10. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

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    I cut down the occassional trees on other people's property, but like Eric and others have said, I only cut down trees that are within my skill range that I know will not hit anything of value. To date I have never felled a tree for someone I didnt know. If you suspect a waiver is needed at a particular offer, I'd walk away, especially if more than one property owner can potentially be involved. If ownerA puts out the ad and you sign a waiver with them, you have no waiver with OwnerB next door who gives you grief (or you drop a tree on their land unplanned).

    If Joe Cheapskate has a tree dropped by a service but not hauled away, or more often the case a storm knocks one down, then I'll buck it up for free & haul it away. Around where I live, if someone posts a sign at the end of their driveway saying 'free firewood', usually the rush of people trying to grab it produces a hurricane-level wind and its gone within the hour. I dont think we are doing ourselves a disservice by being free/cheap tree services, however dont open yourself to any liability except your own body.

    Tree services around here will typical deliver a grapple load for $350-$400, which is about 7-11 cords once split/bucked. At $50/cord delivered w/ no liability, thats a good deal for cheap people like us. Lately the town has been widening/repairing several roads within 2 miles of my house, which usually takes several dozen trees/mile of the project. Obviously they are using some service to do this, Im hoping to get them to deliver a grapple load for even cheaper.
  11. philaphire

    philaphire Member

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    just to be straight - what I said was, we shouldn't pay for wood that is really just cleaning up a homeowner's property (which I know really isn't the subject of ths thread) nor should we cut down a tree for free for a stranger. I'm more so concerned about buying wood that should really be for free - let's keep the market down! Moreover, as mentioned by all, we should be wise and keep our liabilty at the handling of a chainsaw! Frugal, cheap, smart, whatever - bottom line is utility companies can.....(you fill in the blank!)
  12. Mike

    Mike New Member

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    Living in the city, I wouldn't dream about cutting someone else's tree down. That's what the pros do. I will happily haul away any wood though as long as it's ok with all parties.
  13. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Interesting thread, but you can't contract away your own negligence. Its against the general obligations law. Any waiver will be literally worthless.

    -- Mike
  14. philaphire

    philaphire Member

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    Here's an example of what we're talking about from today's Philalphia craigslist, I love the "free of charge, but brush must be neatly piled" line....

    U-Cut Firewood in Pottstown PA -- FREE
    Reply to: sale-237899118@craigslist.org
    Date: 2006-11-21, 12:03AM EST

    We have a good number of trees which have to go. All are a reasonable size, and some won't even need splitting. Easy access. Free of charge but brush must be neatly piled. Near Route 100 and Route 422, Upper Pottsgrove, PA.

    So my thing is, we should tell this guy that we would be glad to do it for $100, or haul away the wood after pros come in - I'm just not convinced that doing this for free for someone we don't know is helpful to us individually or corporately.

    Sorry for all my ranting on this thread...I think I'll stop now :zip:
  15. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Yea, those are the kinds of listings I was talking about too. If the trees are in a spot where its impossible for them to hit anything valuable when brought down then its not a big deal but this is probably unlikely. And you are right, we would be performing a service that would have otherwise cost them a lot of money, but hey, I believe in free markets and if people are willing to work for wood then so be it, I'm sure the guy will take the best offer he gets. He'd probably be considered an idiot for letting an uninsured armature take down trees that have any chance of damaging the property, but if that's what he wants, I'm sure that's what he'll get. As for neatly stacked brush piles - yea, that is pushing it a little but I guess its not THAT much extra work. Beggars can't be choosers right?

    I removed a nice old growth hickory for someone this year, was doing them a huge favor, and the "son-in-law" came over while I was working and said he had a stove too and he wanted some of the wood but he didn't have time to cut up the tree or some nonsense like that and he wanted me to cut up and leave him a bunch of the wood! Haha, that wasn't happening. I did leave him a pile of branches though, and a big stump.




  16. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    Put me down as one who is "cheap" - but with my time and my money. For $50 a cord dropped in my driveway, I just can't rationalize the time to drop or even limb trees and deal with the brush and shavings, plus carting wood to my house by the pickup truck load. It's just not worth it. My time is better spent splitting and stacking - that is where the value is.

    I would do it to help out a friend or a neighbor, and I would pick up already bucked wood at the curb - but that's it.

    Lots of respect for those of you that have the time and energy to really scrounge, but I've got too many other home improvement projects. Those run $50-$100 per hour, and that's a much bigger payback than $50/cord!!!

    -TNB
  17. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I think if I had a supplier willing to give me a cord of wood delivered for $50 I would go ahead and take it. So far I have not found such a source. Plus I'm still at the stage where I get a big thrill out of cutting down trees (hearing the creak of the tree, not knowing exactly what will happen, yelling "TIM-BERRRR" and all that). When cutting down a big tree becomes mundane (does it ever?) maybe I'll try harder to find delivered logs.
  18. Gunner

    Gunner New Member

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    Where are you getting wood $50/cord delivered??

    Are you talking full cords?

    Log length stuff?
  19. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

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    The $50/cord is probably available anywhere that has tree services, this estimate is from my area north of Boston, MA. The ones I spoke to will deliver a grapple load of tree trunks (branches/brush removed) to your home for anywhere from $200-$500 depending on a few factors, the average seemed to be around the $350 range. You as the owner then put in the effort to buck & split them yourself. Obviously it's recently felled, unseasoned wood, but they will guarentee hardwoods that are (OK, were) healthy, e.g. they werent dead, rotting trees that fell across a telephone wire.

    Some of my friends have negotiated nearly free grapples if the tree service is working in your neighborhood and its more effort for them to bring the trunks back to their home base vs. driving it down the street to your house. But of course then you have to A) spot the work being done as it happens and B) beat the other person just like yourself who wants the wood.
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