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  • Writer's pictureLisa Bea Smith

Let's Take a Look at Your Trees!

As your home inspector, I will not only thoroughly inspect the home, but also will inspect the trees surrounding the home. This is important for many reasons. First, I will observe the layout of the trees in to the home, as well as to other structures, such as fences, outbuilding, powerlines, etc. It is important that no part of the tree contact the home, even when there is wind or rain. Also, a 10’ clearance should be provided to power lines. Next, I will examine the ground around the trees that are close to the home. Tree roots can cause damage to homes in a number of ways. Although roots do not actually break the concrete foundation, they can grow through existing cracks. Also, roots can cause upheave of the foundation or can pull the moisture from the soil causing uneven settling. Roots that are on top of the ground are oven an indication that water flows over that area and that it stays damp or wet. I will also observe the tree trunk, looking for multiple trunks, V-splits, decay, cankers, and conks. Finally, I will note the condition of the tree canopy.

Trees are wonderful to have around a home for many reasons – shade, energy savings, fall foliage, spring flowering, fruits, etc. However, the homeowner must be diligent in the care and maintenance of the tree and home when there are trees present. The gutters must be kept free of leaves so that water flow is maintained. The roof must be kept free or debris so that moisture is not held against the shingles. Dead limbs and leaves on the ground should be removed not only for fire mitigation, but also to prevent the infestation of wood destroying organisms that could attack the structure of the home. Tree branches overhanging the roof must be kept pruned to protect the roof and home. Finally, it is important that trees be planted the proper distance from the home, based on the mature height of the tree. Small trees that grow to 30’ or less should be planted at least 10’ from the home; medium trees that grow 30’ – 70’ tall should be planted at least 15’ from the home, and large trees that are 70’ tall or more should be at least 20’ from the home. However, there are some types of trees that should never be planted close to the home because of their invasive roots or weak structures.

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