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helenslam, Other/Just Looking in

Will large trees growing too close to the house cause problems with the foundation?

Asked by helenslam, Tue Aug 11, 2009

There are several large trees growing about 5 - 10 feet from the house. The roots are already showing above ground. I have read online that tree roots may cause problems for the foundation. What are ways to fix this potential problem? Cut the trees? But what about the roots?

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some trees are shallow rooted others have deep tap roots. Some trees will actually sprout anew off of those exposed roots. In general it is best not to have large trees too close for reasons mentioned already as well as additional mold growth increased likelihood of carpenter ants and termites etc. Suggest you check with your local master gardener office of county extension. (free info)They may be able to better inform you of what is likely happening under the ground. Speak with an arborist. If you choose to remove, the method may be impacted by just how close it is to house, underground power lines, septic well ...Some trees such as willows also reek havoc in septic fields and drain lines.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 11, 2009

You've already gotten your answer.

My addition is just this: Cutting down trees can get expensive. I'd have about three quotes in hand. Also, I'd get a non-removal tree expert to tell me just how big the root circle was and I'd look to see where the sewer line ran. It might be that you have some time and can do them one at a time, so they don't impact your budget so hard. It probably won't cost you much more in a couple of years and if you decide that at least two or more should go, you can have the process hit your budget to the tune you feel comfortable with each year.

Bill Holt
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 11, 2009
Yes, eventually they can potentially cause a problem with the foundateion and the sewer lines and other possible scenarios.

You can have the trees removed and the stump ground down .. the roots will die and fall apart with a few years... expect to fill soil in the area of the decaying roots over a few years..

Good Luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 11, 2009
Helenslam: Except for the CO repairs, which are the seller's problem with the town, I think you have been unreasonable.

Bill Holt
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 11, 2009
I did much web research and found that the tree roots do not directly crack the foundation. Rather, they suck the moisture from the soil underneath the foundation, the dehydrated soil then collapses downward, thus causing the foundation to settle. Based on my research, I planned to cut down these trees to reduce such a risk.

Of course, the story didn't end there. We withdrew our offer to purchase the house with the trees during attorney review. The sellers were quite ridiculous in demanding a more than 2.5 times increase in our second deposit, restricting us from backing out of the deal unless they refused to fix inspection issues, refusing to pay more than $500 to fix issues related to obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy, and insisted on continuing to show the house even when we were already in attorney review. These sellers obviously thought this is still 2004...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 11, 2009

How about an update? Did you consult an arborist? What did that person say?

Here's a bit more from me, having checked out a thing or two. A person I know lives in a house with TWO towering pin oaks within 6-10 feet of the house. They've been there for 55 years or more and have done no discernable damage, although keeping the gutters clean is a chore. There is also a row of pine/spruce/fir trees of the same approximate age 15 feet from the side of the house. Pine needles are not any easier to keep out of the gutters.

The major problem is not close to the house and concerns an old terra cotta sewerage pipe that a maple tree has cracked. Annual root treatment and a rotary clean out keep things in good working order, even with the crack.

Are you somewhat concerned with other impending maintenance and safety issues? I just got a "best answer" commendation with a general reply to several concerns. It may help you get through any concerns that you may have.

Let's face it. A property is a maintenance chore all the while you have it. That's one of the reasons why older folks opt for places such as Ann's Choice, where over 2000 seniors live. They have turned these maintenance concerns over to the Erickson Corporation. You must understand that most of them owned a house of their own for thirty years or more before deciding to ease off.

So, if you want the pleasure and financial rewards of ownership, you will have to gird yourself to the maintenance responsibilities that go with it. Otherwise, perhaps an apartment house would be more your style. Several of them offer the financial benefits of ownership without the maintenance chores because they are Condominium Associations. These associations handle the building management.

Here's the other answer that someone thought hit the mark:

Koko: First, it is best to get QUALIFIED contractors to give you estimates, not Realtors. This is part of what is called "due diligence," which means being diligent in obtaining information that you need from the proper source(s.)

Having said that, neither mold nor oil tanks are unusual circumstances. That being the case, I'd recommend reviewing the situation in their regard very carefully before I walked away from ANY situation. Mold is universal. Just ask any boater, for example. There MAY be some toxic types, so be sure of what you are dealing with. There are also individuals who are more allergic than others.

What's with the water pipe change out? The only reason I know of for this need is in the case of EXTREMELY acidic well water, so bad that the pipes corroded through in spots. Even then, the fix was water treatment and patched pipes.

Roof replacement. This can be expensive. The problem, if it's mold, is usually the lack of ventilation of the attic space. That's why all modern roofing installations include ridge vents. If the roof is so old it requires a vent that was not installed or if, for some reason you need additional venting, it may be time for a roof replacement because of age. Otherwise, a repair may be all you need. One of the problems of moisture in the attic is the DELAMINATING of the plywood roof decking. (Older homes may have solid lumber decking and a simple spray cleaning may end any mold problem, as long as proper venting is added.) If plywood delamination has happened, I would recommend a complete roof replacement, including ALL the decking.

If the roof is truly in poor condition, my recommendation is to get a good roofing quote or three, chose to manage the job yourself AFTER your purchase of the property and making any offer you make lower by that amount. This would be better than depending on the seller to effect the repair. The seller may do it on the cheap and/or may run into schedule delays, (Roofers don't do much in the rain,) which may well end up completely screwing up any plans that you have about closing and move in. Usually, roofs are replaced while there are occupants in the house, although it can get quite dusty.

Oil Tanks: They are legal, both above and in the ground. There are testing companies that you should hire to be sure things are OK. Make sure that includes contamination testing. While nothing is perfect, I’d buy a property with an in-ground tank myself. I’d then remove the tank (you can get NJ state moneys to pay for most or perhaps even all of it,) and the install an above ground tank with modern installation practices. It’s a bit of a risk and Ken Verbeyst (another good, experienced Realtor) may bang me on the head for this advice, based on his own, more extensive experience, but still, that’s how I’d handle it. Alternatively, you can attempt to get the seller to do the change over before you close.

Hope this helps.

Bill Holt
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 19, 2009
Large trees growing close to a house can provide privacy as well as shade in the summer, but they can also pose a number of problems. (1) roots can interfere with the structural integrity of the foundation (2) leaves from hardwoods can clog gutters and leaders around the edge of the roof (3) branches which brush up against the siding & roof of the house can cause discoloration and damage (4) there is always the possibility that the tree could fall into the house in a strong wind or with excessive snow or ice.

If the trees are cut, there should be no further growth of the roots so that should solve a number of problems. Whoever removes the tree should also remove the stump which should leave no trace of the tree. My suggestion is to make sure that you engage the services of a professional to assess your particular circumstance and to perform this job for you.

I can provide you with the contact information for tree removal services that our clients have recommended to us. Just send me an e-mail.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 11, 2009
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