Do you like bugs and expensive repairs? I’m sure there is one guy out there saying, “Yeah, I think they’re great,’ but that guy would disagree with anyone on anything, (he’s also the type who would complain about getting a pay raise because his taxes will be higher.) I’m just going to assume your answer is “No”.
One super common issue at home inspections are problems caused by trees and vegetation too close to the house. Problems like:
1. Drainage Problems at the Foundation: If water pools up against the foundation it can work its way inside over time. Water intrusion is one of the biggest reasons for building damage, structural damage, termites, wood rot, and mold. Proper grading can help mitigate pooling water by having a minimum 6-inch slope away from the home over a 10-foot span.
2. Shrubbery in Contact with Siding: An 18-inch clearance is recommended to prevent branches holding water against the siding as well as providing a pathway for insects. Termites think cellulose is delicious and once they finish with a plant they may look for the next tasty thing nearby…like your house.
3. Trees too Close to Home: Ideally, trees should be a minimum of 10-feet from the foundation of the home. The roots of a tree can damage the foundation, plumbing, and driveways over time. Some species root systems are more aggressive than others but better safe than sorry.
In the Youngstown, Ohio area we have many species of poplar trees that grow very fast. The fast growing nature means that the roots also spread fast up to two or three times the height of the tree. That means a 50ft tree could have root systems 100-150ft around its base.
Roots can also cause cracking and displacement of driveways and walkways, reducing their life and creating potential trip hazards. I’ve seen streets in the area where the sidewalks look like somebody sledgehammered them and they’ve been that way for decades.
4. Trees Under Power Lines or Eaves: Keep in mind that your local garden store may tell you a small tree will only grow to 8-feet and it can grow much taller. So look up when your planting and make sure there are no power lines or other potential issues in the future. Tree branches should be no less than 4-feet away from power lines to avoid potentially serious problems.
Tree branches that grow and touch the eaves of a home will cause the same problems as vegetation by holding water against the home and providing a path for insects.
5. Tree Branches Over Homes: In the Mahoning Valley, we have a lot of Beech trees. They can be massive and in some older neighborhoods, you’ll find their branches providing shade over peoples homes. The American Beech can be up to 80ft tall and provide a 70ft wide canopy. What makes them scary is that they often have hollow trunks and strong winds can cause their massive branches to come crashing down.
This also means that very often smaller branches will land of your roof and yard and sometimes with a surprising amount of force. Other than having them trimmed or cut down, there’s not much you can do about it so just something to be aware of when looking for your new home. Oh and stay out of the yard in high winds or you may find yourself in the least fun game of “Whack-a-Mole” ever.
It’s summer, so a good time to get out there and fix these potential problems before they happen.