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Tree and Root Damage to Buildings

Trees are a vital and attractive part of our wider urban and rural environment, and many properties are complimented by the proximity of trees and shrubbery. Trees and buildings are often able to exist and adapt together in reasonable harmony - but problems do occur in some cases.

Problems can arise in a number of ways as trees develop and mature and it is important for a property owner to take account of any present or future risks to the property. Some risks are obvious - trees can be uprooted or torn apart in severe weather conditions, particularly if in an unhealthy condition. Falling trees cause extensive damage to any structure on which they fall. Other problems are less obvious. As a tree increases in size, its root system also has to become more extensive, either downwards or sideways, in search of the required nutrients and to provide adequate support. Tree roots can directly damage a building by disturbing foundations or indirectly by damaging drains or affecting the water table, which may result in shrinkage, subsidence, settlement or ground heave. In many instances, these subterranean problems go unnoticed until visible signs of cracks and other disturbance indicate that movement of the structure has occurred.

Willow, poplar and oak are the trees which are most likely to adversely affect or influence nearby property by root growth.
Qualified and experienced surveyors can advise property owners of all obvious and potential risks and suggest ways of dealing with problems - but in some instances the advice of a qualified arboriculturalist will be recommended. Prevention is better than cure and property owners, as well as property buyers, should consider obtaining specialist advice on trees if they have any concerns about their effect on property.