Removing a tree that's in close proximity to a home involves much more care than removing a tree from an open area, and there are many more factors to consider before you start and after the tree is felled. The primary reason for this extra care is avoiding potential damage to the house, but the damage can be caused by more than just a tree falling the wrong way.
Establish the Tree's Root Structure
Perhaps more important than the top of the tree are the roots, which can grow underneath your foundation and start to cause damage by cracking concrete or breaking utility pipes and cables. If there is no damage yet, you need to find out two things: Where the tree's roots are growing, and if they need to be removed.
If there is no damage, you may be able to get away with simply killing the roots and preventing them from growing any further. If they are presenting a threat, however, you'll need to prepare to remove at least the bulk of the roots from around and underneath your foundation.
Prepare to Kill the Stump
If the roots may potentially turn into a problem if they keep growing, you'll want to kill the stump as soon as you can. To do this you'll need a herbicide ready to apply to the freshly cut stump – most herbicides need to be applied quickly, while the cut is still fresh, in order to be effective.
Before you cut the tree, have your herbicide ready. To make it more effective, you can also drill a number of holes a few inches deep into the stump and pour the herbicide inside. Either way, however, this is best done before the stump can start to heal over.
Direct the Fall
Taking down the actual tree is one of the toughest parts because you need a way to direct a large amount of weight. Cutting a notch into the side of the tree of the direction you want it to fall is a good start. For improved control, attach one end of a rope or cable around the tree trunk and the other end to a truck. As you very slowly cut the tree at its base, you can slowly drive the vehicle forward to start its fall in the right direction.
Because of the damage this could do to your vehicle if the tree falls on it, use the vehicle primarily for security and direction, not to pull the tree over. When the tree starts to lean in the right direction, move the vehicle to safety and continue the cut.
Remove the Roots
If the roots have started to grow underneath your foundation, you should try to remove as much of them as you can. This process isn't difficult, but it can be tedious. You will need to dig a few feet down, then a few feet underneath your foundation to reach most of the roots.
Before you start digging or cutting, make sure you know where all of your utility lines and pipes are so you don't strike anything important. Either consult the blueprints for your house or call your utility companies for advice.
The roots can be removed by digging out the dirt around and under them and using a chainsaw to cut them out. Make sure the chainsaw doesn't get into the dirt; dirt can clog up a chainsaw very quickly.
When replacing the dirt you removed, lay down a few inches at a time, soak it with water, and repeat with the next few inches of dirt. This lets the soil compact itself as you replace it.
For more information, or if you would like professional assistance, contact MML Tree Service or a similar company.