Five things every homebuyer should know about trees
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may remember, in a recent post, we mentioned, if you’re considering putting in an offer on a property, a tree in the garden as something worth further investigation first.
Before we go any further, perhaps we should emphasise that we love trees; not for one minute would we recommend you steer clear of them or consider having one removed from outside a property as a condition of purchase. What a dull place the UK would be to live if we all thought like that …
However – albeit not often (and if you’ll pardon the pun) – a tree can be the root cause of a number of issues so there’s no harm in knowing a little more about them before you make perhaps the largest financial investment of your life and buy a house.
So, if you are considering a home in a leafy suburb, here are a few things you should know.
Problems relating to trees or their roots are not common. Just because there’s a tree near the house, it doesn’t mean you can anticipate blocked drains or subsidence or that falling branches are going to damage the roof. It’s really a matter of distance and often soil type. Also, even if a particular tree is deemed a risk by the local authority, there may only be a minimal chance of it actually casing any damage. Assessments tend to err towards caution so it’s not necessarily a reason to give up on your dream home.
A tree growing in chalky in sandy soil is less of a risk than one growing in clay. Trees do soak up a lot of moisture, particularly in the summer months. A chalky or sandy soil is therefore not affected as badly in the drier summer months as heavy clay, which can go from being reasonably pliant to as hard as rock, putting extra strain on any underground infrastructure. If you want to know what sort of ground your new home was built on, you can check here: https://mapapps.bgs.ac.uk/geologyofbritain/home.html
A tree causing damage can be felled, even if it’s in a Conservation Area or covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Naturally, the damage will need to be proved by an expert but, if a tree is a problem, you can do something about it. However, the damage doesn’t necessarily have to be on your property. If a tree in your garden is proved to be affecting your neighbour’s home, they can request that you take remedial action as well.
A tree which has lifted paving slabs or damaged a drive is not necessarily a threat to the house. Paving slabs or asphalt offer considerably less resistance than the foundations of a house and are much easier for roots to find a way through. Also, they may also be closer to the tree itself, and therefore more susceptible to damage caused by the buttress or the roots where they grow thicker and closer together.
What about a tall hedge? Can that damage my house? It’s not impossible if the hedge is sufficiently big or in close proximity to a building – but it is less likely. However, if you’re thinking of buying a property with fast-growing greenery in the garden, you might want to read up on the rules and regulations pertaining to nuisance and care. You can find a useful guide here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=408
So, if you have your heart set on a house with a tree, we hope that’s enough to put your mind at rest for now but, if there’s anything else you think we might be able to guide you on, why not have a browse through our earlier blogs, give us a call or drop us a line? We’d love to assist if we can.
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