PokerPal, Home Buyer in Milpitas, CA

Is a raised sidewalk due to tree roots a big deal?

Asked by PokerPal, Milpitas, CA Fri Aug 6, 2010

I am considering to buy a house in West San Jose (95129) which has a portion of the sidewalk raised because of a tree root. According to the city, I am responsible for handling this problem. Is this a very tough problem to handle? Could it possibly mean a deal breaker for the house?

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Sam Shueh, , San Jose, CA
Thu Oct 9, 2014
deal breaker-lucky you can get a place called home in the neighborhood.
1 vote
Tina Klabo, , Cupertino, CA
Fri Aug 6, 2010
I live in the West San Jose area and see this problem a lot. The City of San Jose planted trees in the park strip that, over time, the roots start to lift the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the maintenance and repair of both tree and sidewalk fall upon the homeowner. Removing the tree and replacing it with a better choice of tree, along with proper planting will take of care of future sidewalk issues. The repair of the sidewalk is also the homeowner's responsibility, but it is possible the affected area of the sidewalk can be grinded down to level it out. The City of San Jose does have a program called Our City Forest that will provide the replacement tree free of charge.
If you are considering buying a house that has a sidewalk that needs repairing, negotiate the repair into your offer with terms that is agreeable to both Buyer and Seller. Just know that unless you remove the current tree from this property, you will be looking at more sidewalk repairs in the future.
1 vote
It sounds like there's already programs in place to help, then. If a program is willing to help with lowering the concrete, then I think you should invest in the house. The main difficulty is going to be fixing the sidewalk. Just buy the home knowing that you'll have that repair in a few years. |
Flag Wed Feb 18, 2015
Ruth and Per…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Wed Dec 17, 2014
No, not a tough problem to handle. It is quite a common occurence in San Jose.
Requires concrete removal and pouring of new concrete. Also check with the city
on tree removal.

Good luck.
0 votes
Sam Shueh, , San Jose, CA
Sat Dec 6, 2014
safety. avoidance of law suit if someone trips ....
0 votes
All that's stopping you from buying a house is the raise sidewalk concrete from a tree root? You should call a tree service company first and see if they can't remove that root so the raised concrete can come down. That's a good place to start.
Flag Tue Feb 10, 2015
Myersjulie31, Home Buyer, Blakeslee, PA
Fri Nov 21, 2014
If you are really worried about having cracked cement, then that would probably make the difference. I have a neighbor who had this problem, and she was just able to get it repaired and get the tree root taken care of. It would probably depend what you think, since you can probably get it fixed without too much problem.
0 votes
garypuntman, , Los Angeles, CA
Mon Oct 27, 2014
You will want to get the tree removed. I think that it can become a big deal eventually. Tree roots can actually cause a lot of damage.
0 votes
Michelle Car…, Agent, Coppertino, AL
Fri Aug 23, 2013
You've been given great advice here on tree roots and sidewalks and how to deal with the problem. Also check if there are tree roots causing problems for the foundation/house.
0 votes
charles butt…, Agent, san jose, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2012
Thank you, Poker Pal for your question:

Yes, this is a problem all over San Jose.

The good news is that it is not a great problem to fix.

Depanding on how bad the problem is, it may be as simple as having a contractor grind down the raised portions of the side walk so there is not a trip hazard.

In more severe cases you may have to hire a contractor to remove the affected portion of the sidewalk, remove the tree roots and pour a new section of the sidewalk.

For more information you may call me at my cell phone: (408)509-6218

Thank you,
Charles Butterfield MBA
Real Estate Broker/REALTOR
American Realty
Cell Phone: (408)509-6218
Fax: (408)269-3597
Email Address:
0 votes
Sam Shueh, , San Jose, CA
Sat Aug 7, 2010
jack hammer the side walk and repour. The cost is not excessive. It removes the safety out of your worry if you are being sued. You may convince your neighbor to go collectively together to share the equipment such the contractor can give a better price.
0 votes
Andrea Wince…, Agent, Milpitas, CA
Fri Aug 6, 2010
Forget about removing the tree .... The City of San Jose LOVES their trees and you'll need to apply for a permit to remove it, which most likely will be denied. I am curious how far up is the sidewalk raised (in inches?) Sometimes you can rent a grader from a hardware store or alike, and grade down the sidewalk so that it's not a tripping hazard. You might want to call the City and ask what they recommend to resolve the problem. Yes, the problem belongs to the homeowner, and yes, they are now on notice that it is an issue and could be sued if someone injures themselves by tripping.
0 votes
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Fri Aug 6, 2010
You will want to address any tripping hazards in front of your house because if someone is injured due to the sidewalk lifting they may make a claim against you/your insurance.

I had this issue in San Jose as well. The city marked the sidewalk needing repair at at that time (8 years ago) they split the cost because there were so many on our street needing repair and they came out and repaired them all over the course of a few days.

Now that money is an issue with the cities, I doubt that the same offer will be made. If there are several on your block perhaps you and your neighbors can get a volume discount from a contractor.
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0 votes
Wendy Dessan…, Agent, Tenafly, NJ
Fri Aug 6, 2010
although i dont work in your area. a key issue would be if the sidewalks must be level prior to this area some towns require that sidewalks must be level..not tripping hazards to get a c of o. it can be a matter of simply resetting the concrete or it can involve removing the tree depending on how far reaching the tree roots are. from your question it sounds like you are saying you are this area it's usually the seller who is responsible to take care of the problem

good luck with your purchase
Wendy W. Dessanti/Broker/Sales Representative
201 310-2255/201 541-1449
0 votes
Caroline York, Agent, St Petersburg, FL
Fri Aug 6, 2010
Any time you think something could be a deal breaker for a house - go with that thought. Protect yourself in the contract. Talk to a plumber and an arborist and get an idea of what the worse possible scenario would cost. Obviously if the city is involved then you must have been told that you have to also repair the sidewalk. Know what you are willing to pay to repair the situation. If it is a distressed property and you cannot ask the seller to contribute to the repair then make sure you can get out of the contract if the estimate of the repair exceeds a certain amount. We recently had a situatin where the tree roots entangled themselves into the sewer system and we had to have the entire plumbing system from the street to the house dug up and repaired. Know what you are getting into. It may not be as bad as you think - then again, it could be worse than you ever dreamed possible. Good luck.
0 votes
Pam Bava, Agent, Rochester, MI
Fri Aug 6, 2010
Poker Pal, have a plumber check things out also, the roots may have grown into the plumbing system. I've seen that problem before on I property I sold.
If you really like he house, you have a deal. Just be cautious, before writing the offer, make sure you are comfortable with the results.

Good luck
0 votes
Scott Miller, Agent, Boca Raton, FL
Fri Aug 6, 2010
Hi Poker. Great question. My hometown, Philadelphia, has this problem on every other block. First of all, you don't know how far the roots have traveled underneath the sidewalk and possibly the street, or thehome, depending on where this tree sits. You should get a landscaping company that specializes in tree removal out there immediately to give you an estimate on removing it. After it's removed, you're going to have to pay the cost of repairing the concrete, too, don't forget.

Maybe you can split this cost with the seller. Tree removal can be expensive. Make sure you have a copy of the company's insurance certificate in your hand before they start the job.

GOOD LUCK and let us know how it turns out, please.

Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca Raton, FL
0 votes
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