• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Harvesting Urban Lumber  RSS feed

 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have the opportunity to purchase a small wedge of a neighbors lot that is on my side of a stream. I haven't gotten down to nitty gritty discussions with the neighbor about purchasing this wedge of property, but it wouldn't be for much. During the summer I maintain the property because there is no way for the neighbor to get across to maintain it without installing a small bridge.

On that piece of their property are a number of mostly oak trees that line my driveway. To be exact, 7 oaks (which one is actually two trees together) and 1 hickory line a driveway approximately 75 foot in length and all but two are in a straight line, with the other two, at most, within 10-15 foot of that line. There is also one other stray oak on that wedge of lot. Most of the trees are approximately 1.5 foot in diameter with one about 3 foot in diameter. If I were to purchase that property, I would want to keep most of the trees intact because they are on the west side of my house and actually, the limbs overstretch my roof, providing good quality shade during the summer months. Based on the density of trees in that small stretch, a few of the trees could be removed with the same benefit to my cooling situation. The hickory would definitely stay because it has just started to produce nuts this past year.

My question is, if I were to purchase this small wedge of property, what process would I go through to find people willing to harvest the urban lumber and at a fair price? We have a lot of local timber companies that will try to lowball the price. Is it worth it to try to contact a forestry management person and let them handle the bidding and removal process for a fee? I am thinking that harvesting the trees would probably pay for the property purchase, offer me some money for other projects and give the remaining trees a better opportunity for growth. If I were to purchase the lot and harvest some of the trees, it would be a VERY selective harvest.

Thanks in advance!
Jen
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6796
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Few timber companies will be interested in such a small cut block. I would hire an arborist to bring everything down and then strike a deal with someone who owns a portable bandsaw mill. Do it on a split if you need lumber or have him market the wood if you're not into doing it. I would hire the miller and retain all wood. After a year of air drying under good cover, it is more valuable. If you have the time and space, this is the way to maximize profit. It won't even be close to what you would get for standing timber.

Unless the timber is of exceptional quality, only a fool would pay for trees in town where sheds, fences and homes could be at risk. These things usually cost money to have them removed.

One of my customers has a row of big cedars along the driveway. They hang over the house. I'm not set up or insured for that sort of thing. It's a $1500 job. I may take it on. I can hire a bucket truck and guy for about $800 to bring it all down. I'll get about 6 tons of cedar poles. Several friends will scrounge firewood. Then I'll spend about $400 on clean up. That leaves me with $300 and a nice load of cedar. It will take about 10 hours plus some planning. This is the way for people in or near the city to get good round wood.
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a picture that will give you a perspective regarding the proximity of the trees to my house. They are mostly straight and relatively limb free due to them competing for sunlight as they were growing.
Trees-along-driveway.jpg
[Thumbnail for Trees-along-driveway.jpg]
Trees along driveway
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6796
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If those were oak trees were here in Victoria, I'd be willing to pay $300 for what I see in the photo, if they could be dropped on the open lawn area and if I don't have to clean up any brush or repair lawn damage. There are probably people who would pay more and many who would not be interested in them for free.
 
drew grim
Posts: 49
Location: pleasant garden, nc (zone 7A)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i recently had about 30 oak trees taken out and sold. i split the cost (60/40) of taking them out with the timber guy. My share ended up being right around $1k. from what i hear prices are just really low right now. it does seem like it would be better to just get it all milled up if you can afford that.
 
Ariel Leger
Posts: 22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Jen,

Dave has given some good advice here, kudos Dave, and I wish you the luck of finding an arborist with such a kind and permaculture oriented heart near you. Falling trees in an Urban area in the US is a veritable shitstorm of liability issues... It is worth doing the research and checking with the companies in your area but I think you may be hard pressed to find someone who will pay you for the trees. Timber companies will probably be uninterested in such a small cut and most arborists will charge to cut down trees in an Urban area even if you let them keep the wood as dealing with the fallen trees is seen an added expense, not as potential profit.

From the picture, it looks as if the trees could be dropped onto the open lawn behind them...If this is the case, I'd go with the DIY option. Start in your community zone 1 and work outwards to see if you can find someone who has the ability to drop these trees safely. If they can be processed, stored and seasoned on site to be sold next year as processed ready to use timber you may be able to obtain a yield from these trees that way.

If you do not have folks in your network to help you process the lumber, you may be hard pressed to find someone to cut these trees without YOU having to pay THEM for their trouble. In this case, I would let them grow. They are beautiful Oak trees and if you or someone in your community does not have need for the lumber let them stand! they are doing far more good as living standing trees than as cut lumber. I think that you may be able to get better yields out of these trees if you let them live. I wont go into too much detail about the various uses of a living oak tree in this thread as it is specifically about woodworking and harvesting urban lumber but it might be worth doing some research into other ways of obtaining yields from these oaks without cutting them down for lumber. (I can think of quite a few and if you want some ideas feel free to message me about them )
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Right now they are not my trees to cut. If I were to purchase the wedge of land that they sit on, I was only thinking of taking out a couple because they really are too close to each other. Most would stay.

I have mulled around the acorns for a possible gain from them, in addition to all the shade they give me in the summer. With them extremely close to the property line, I have thought of researching some shade loving vines that might benefit from them too. Let me tell you...they put down some serious biomass each year. I really do see the value (permaculturally speaking) in them. I guess one thing that I don't have to worry about right now, since they are not mine, is the insurance liability if they were to come down in a storm. I must say that I have watched them out the window during big storms and rolled that idea around in my mind. Nothing like watching them sway in the direction of your house!

Primarily, I was trying to decide if there was possibly enough value in selectively harvesting a couple of them to have them pay for the wedge of lot, since the question was raised to me if I was interested in purchasing it or not. It wouldn't add value to my current home and it doesn't deter from the value either. It would basically be to keep the fussy, nosey neighbor a little further away from my property line. I think that I am the only one in the neighborhood that currently gets along with her and it would be nice to keep it that way.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
289
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It would basically be to keep the fussy, nosey neighbor a little further away from my property line.


From a permaculture (or any other) point of view, that in itself is adding great value to the property !
Just keeping a neighbor from the right to meddle around 15 feet from your house would be worth it to me.
It also gives you better access to the creek.
Creeks can be an extremely valuable addition to any eco-zone - it is one of the richest edges you can have.

If I could afford it, I would not even hesitate.
Buy it now ! Before she has a chance to change her mind.

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6796
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This thread should be instructive for any young fellows who buy land near the city. You don't have to buy lumber. Take on whatever sized jobs you can handle and get paid to load up. Even if you have no tree cutting skills, you can work with a faller and just be the clean up guy. You don't need to have a giant truck.

Step by step heavy hauling for the truck poor logger.

- Take on stuff that two guys can drag to a bin.
- Charge the going rate, you're not running a charity.
- If the bin can be dropped with the back door facing the logs, use a winch. Hook it to the big eye that the truck uses to lift the bin.
- Don't buck anything shorter than 8 ft except fence posts and firewood.
- Rent a 40 yard bin.
- Put your heavy logs on the bottom.
- Load up all of the little limbs until they won't compact anymore.
- Then heave all of your smaller logs and firewood on top.
- The brush will compact as you load.
- Sort it all out at home.
- Hugelkultur will become your friend.
- You're now a round wood builder.
- You're in the firewood business.
- You'll eventually want a bandsaw mill.

You're Welcome
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for all the great input everyone. It has certainly given me a lot to think about. If I end up buying the land and taking down a few trees (we could harvest ourselves), I could load the logs and take them to some local Amish mills to get them milled up and store the lumber in my garage while it dried. I might then be able to find someone who would want to purchase it in the future or it would make some really beautiful project wood for me! The brush and scrap could definitely be put to use for firewood, hugelcultures, chipped up for mulch (as could the stumps be ground out for a similar purpose).
 
David Barmon
Posts: 24
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Jen, it sounds like you have maybe found some local sawyer already. Craigslist is a good place to check out. It sounds like you are in Pennsylvania. Woodmizer has a regional sales office in your state. They list portable saw mill companies. Keep in mind you need to air dry the lumber and then kiln dry it. Furniture makers won't pay much unless it is kiln dried. There is little money in the logs, it is in the processed lumber but you need to know where to sell it to get any money. I would also add that milling wood is hard work and requires investing in a mill which is not cheap. A lot of home owners think they are going to get rich and find somebody who is just desperate to work for them. As with all transactions, find someone competent and be willing to compensate them fairly for their time. It's not just about getting good customer service but also about being a good customer.

I can't tell a lot from the photos but it looks like there will be some tension wood in some of those trees. The lumber may move a lot as it dries.
 
mooooooo ..... tiny ad ....
The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23444/digital-market/digital-market/Earth-Sheltered-Solar-Greenhouse-Book
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!