Tree Reports

At a glance...

  • Trees can cause problems to drains and subsoil which supports foundations. Removal may not be best (or even allowed)
  •  Professional advice is always the best to know how to care for trees and their effect on buildings.
  •  Removal/pruning/root action etc.
  •  The reports shows recommended works and include costings.

There are many factors that can lead to a surveyor or valuer recommending a tree report but it nearly always stems from a concern that either the tree’s roots may affect some part of the building, or that the tree’s superstructure represents a risk. The latter risk is usually one of potential damage to the property in the case of the tree’s collapse and is a matter of pruning and insurance. The former issues, however, which relate to root activity can be linked to matters involving structural movement of the building fabric, problems with drains etc.

Trees can also affect neighbouring properties and owners will have to meet their legal (and moral) obligations in maintaining the trees in their possession.

A good report will include the following elements:

  • a description and identification of the tree
  • many reports include a plan showing the position of a tree in relation to property and the extent of its influence
  • comment on any restrictions to the inspection
  • a description of apparent risks posed by the tree to property or to people
  • detailed recommendation of repairs, if necessary
  • costings for carrying out the repair work

It is important that specialists have both experience and are suitably qualified to carry out tree reports. One of the most common qualifications is Membership of the Arboricultural Association (M.Arbor.A) though there are several others. It is important that the specialist has appropriate knowledge and experience to carry out the work you are requesting from him.

It has been estimated by the Building Research Establishment that an isolated tree should be at least its mature height away from a building. It’s a very rough guide as in reality the uptake of water will vary according to the type of tree, root patterns and soil type, but it serves as a very rough guide. This is extended to 1.5 times the mature height for groups of trees.

The presence of trees close to buildings can cause a number of problems, of which the most common include the following:

  • Tree roots can penetrate drainage runs in their quest for water causing leakage.
  • This can lead to erosion of subsoil which in turn causes structural movement of foundations and structural damage to walls of floors.
  • Where soils are prone to shrinkage (shrinkable clays for example), tree roots cam extract moisture from the soil which will cause additional shrinkage.
  • Tree roots can assert pressure on building structure (foundations, floor slabs etc) resulting in structural damage.
  • Trees close to buildings can pose a risk of damage in the case of collapse or loss of branches following storms or decay/death of the tree.
  • Tree foliage can be create blockage in gutters and rainwater pipes resulting in spillage.
  • Trees can cause nuisance to neighbours if they are allowed to grow out of control – restriction of light and overhanging branches are examples of these problems. Indeed, the height of hedges now legally restricts the height of growth close to boundaries
  • Removal of trees can result in an increase in moisture within the soil, which can cause an upward pressure on buildings above it. This is know as heave. It is an important factor when specialist decide how to respond to tree problems.

In many cases, problems caused by tree roots require the input of other specialists – drains specialists, for example, if it is suspected that drains have been damaged, or structural engineers/building surveyors if there is structural damage to the building fabric. Specialist Xpress will advise accordingly when there is more than one factor involved to ensure that you receive the answers you need at the best cost.

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