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Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

Buying a House? Watch for These 4 Tree Problems


A lot of people dream of buying a house with a big tree in the yard. What they don't realize is how much maintenance big trees can be. Being aware of and watching for the following four potential problems can help you during the home-purchasing process. If you notice or discover these problems in advance, you may be able to negotiate repairs or tree care as a part of the home purchase.

1. Trees Near the Sewer Line

Underneath any house are drainage lines that usually lead to a sewer or, sometimes, a septic tank. Tree roots from nearby trees can sometimes grow into these lines in search of water.

Old sewer and septic lines are a magnet for trees because they provide water, nutrients, and oxygen all in one location. Unfortunately, tree roots cause problems in sewers and septic tanks by creating clogs and backups. Eventually, tree roots can do so much damage that the entire line could collapse.

You can't tell just by looking at a home whether or not tree roots are growing into the line. However, if you see a large tree somewhere on the property, especially in the front yard, be aware of the danger.

Some types of trees are more likely than others to grow into the sewer or septic line. Silver maples (which have invasive, shallow roots) and Melaleuca trees (known for their insatiable need for moisture) are both problematic trees that easily grow into drain lines. Familiarize yourself with both of these trees so that you can recognize them on sight.

If you start thinking seriously about buying a home with either of these trees, have the line inspected by a plumber. If a tree is growing into the sewer in a home you wish to buy, you may need to negotiate tree removal and drain line repair with the seller.

2. Tree Branches Growing Over the House

Large tree branches growing close to the roof of a house could become a serious liability. Branches close to the roof can easily become the avenue that pests use to access a home's attic. In addition, branches that are too close are in danger of striking the house and doing structural damage during wind storms.

Fortunately, you can easily fix this problem. As a home buyer, you may be able to negotiate a tree pruning with the seller. This may make it easier to insure the home. It will also reduce your risk of problems after you move in.

3. Sick or Dying Trees

Dying trees will eventually fall over unless they are cut down. In this way, a dying tree can be life-threatening to anyone who lives on the property. Dying trees also put homes at risk because when they fall, they can do serious damage to nearby structures. Recognizing the signs of a dying tree can help you get this problem taken care of before you buy a house. Here's what to watch for:

  • Tree leans to one side. Healthy trees will stand more or less upright, while unhealthy trees may start to lean over time.

  • Fungus on the tree. Mushrooms growing on the outside of a tree indicate that the tree has rot somewhere deep inside.

  • Cracks and cankers in the trunk. Cracks and cankers are signs of a sickness which is often irreversible.

If you're thinking about buying a home with a tree that displays signs of illness, have the tree evaluated by an expert. If you do this during the escrow period before lifting the inspection contingency, you may be able to negotiate the removal of the tree with the current homeowner. Talk to your real estate professional to find out more.  

4. Too Much Shade

Shade trees are the envy of the neighborhood — until you find yourself struggling to grow a garden or cultivate a healthy lawn. Deep shade from a large tree can make landscaping a nightmare because so few plants will thrive in darkness.

Pruning a large tree may make growing things a little easier. If you're thinking about buying a home with a large shade tree, talk to a tree trimming service to find out how much it will cost to have your shade tree pruned on a regular basis. This will give you a way to estimate how much it will cost to maintain your lawn, should you purchase the house.

If you're thinking about buying a home with a large tree that may cause problems after moving in, contact a tree pruning and maintenance service. Speaking to an expert can help you decide what you might be in for if you should buy the property.

At Pete & Ron's Tree Service, Inc., we're happy to answer all your questions. Call us today to find out more about managing tree-related problems on a property you'd like to buy.