Many families in the market for a new home may be drawn in by a property’s eye-popping trees and shrubbery, especially when the season’s right and they explode in spectacular color or verdant greenery. Healthy trees and vegetation can add a host of benefits to a home, from boosting value and controlling soil erosion to providing shade and recreation. Mature trees make an ideal anchor for tire swings and hammocks. For do-it-yourselfers, the sight of a sprawling maple can only mean two things: a treehouse for the kids and the opportunity to strap on a tool belt for a cool project.
Certified home inspectors, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, have a true appreciation for all things green, rooted, and flowering, but they also know this: all that blossoms is not necessarily good for a home. Trees and shrubs can pose problems that may not be first apparent to the home-shopper. That’s why A-Pro’s foundation-to-roof inspections include an assessment of vegetation near the home. Why is this important? Look no further than the cost to repair foundational damage and you’ll understand why (see explanation below).
Here are just a few of the issues your A-Pro home inspector will be checking in regard to trees and shrubs:
Overhanging Limbs: Limbs overhanging a roof are at the top of the list of potential vegetation problems, particularly heavy, dead limbs that can break off due to strong winds or ice accumulation and cause costly damage and severe hazards to people on the ground. Limbs that are in actual contact with or rub against the roof’s surface pose an even more immediate threat. The resulting damage to shingles or other roof surfaces can provide access for squirrels, who will show no remorse when taking rent-free residence in your attic. Limbs near the home are also an open invitation for wood-boring insects. These limbs should be periodically checked (twice a year is recommended) and trimmed or removed when necessary.
Overhanging limbs can also cause gutters to quickly clog with seeds and leaves. If you think this doesn’t sound like a big deal, think again. When gutters are neglected and become packed with debris, rainwater cascades down the side of a home (causing unsightly exterior staining) rather than being diverted away from the foundation. Pooling water collected around the perimeter can penetrate the foundation, affect the soil around the home, and lead to foundational slippage.
Tree Root Damage: We’ve all accidentally tripped over a protruding tree root, stubbing our toes and offering some choice words in the process. But that’s small potatoes compared to the damage an aggressive root system can cause to your main sewer line. While there may be evidence of slow drainage inside the home, the only way to be sure that roots may be obstructing or completely blocking a sewer pipe is to have a Sewer Scope Inspection, like those performed by A-Pro Home Inspection. These inspections (not included in the regular inspection) provide video evidence of the cause and extent of the problem, from minor repairs to complete replacement of a collapsed main line, which could cost you well into the five-figure range.
Extensive root systems can also cause foundational uplift and upheaval of sidewalks and driveways. If there are already cracks in a foundation, roots can find their way in and accelerate system failure. An even more insidious problem is trees near a home’s foundation that leech water from the soil, causing uneven settling of the foundation.
Shrubs and Bushes in Contact with the Home: Your home inspector will throw up a red flag when spotting vegetation that comes in contact with a home or that is too close to exterior cladding. When neglected, shrubs and low bushes touching a home can scratch and damage paint and siding, as well as retain moisture against the building—an invitation for an insect invasion.
Other Vegetation Issues: These include growth that restricts airflow through the central air conditioning unit’s coil; ivy on chimneys that can weaken the structure, cause breakage of the flue, and spur mold growth; and leaning or diseased trees that pose a threat of toppling.