What I'm Seeing Now

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What To Do About Leaning Trees?

On inspection reports I don't let it slide - but, what to do about leaning trees?

A home inspection years ago proved something interesting.  I didn't notice until going into the attic, when I saw that about 1/3 of the roof structure was brand new.  How could that be?

At that point I began wondering about the rest of the house!

Taking that roof-structure hint (wink, it was a pretty big hint!) I investigated the rest of the house further.

Things began to unfold and I was able to determine that the center portion of the rest of the house was all new too!  ALL THE WAY TO THE BASEMENT!

It seems that a large tree had fallen onto the house!

Going out into the yard it was easier to figure out what the lump in the back yard was.  It was a tree trunk covered with dirt! 

Seeing things like that makes an impression!  And I haven't forgotten it.

So when I see trees now, that are leaning toward the house, I always note that on the report.

In this case there were four trees.

Three had buds, ready to develop into leaves this spring.

Buds mean the trees are alive.

One was obviously dead, covered with ivy.  Ivy is a parasite and if a tree it is infesting isn't dead yet, it is a sign that the tree is on its way out.

In this case, not only was the tree covered with ivy, but there were no buds.  And the limbs were definitely dead.

And it was leaning dramatically toward the house.

What to do?

In my opinion such trees need to be cut down.  Can the seller be asked to do that?  Yes.  But will they?

I'm putting my money on the buyer needing to do it, after settlement!

All I can do it note the fact on the report.

My recommendation:  the entirety of the yard needs to be looked at.  Sometimes there are dangerous things there that a buyer should know about.  When one buys a house, one buys what is around it too!  And when a leaning tree is in someone else's yard, more fun is in the offing!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 22 commentsJay Markanich • March 20 2013 02:35AM

Comments

Good Morning, Jay. Although not required, I do mention leaning trees or dead trees as this is often an expense that new home owners do not need to be burdened with...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 5 years ago

In this case, Michael, the leaning tree was dangerous in my opinion.  And big!  But all I can do is note it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Yes, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.  As we've been getting more and more storms, it becomes more important.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 5 years ago

I thought this one is a big deal, Debbie.  But they haven't called to say what happened or if they requested that it be removed.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Morning Jay I have five trees that needs to be cut down but the cost is out of the question.  All of them do not threaten my home but there are not pleasant to look at either. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 5 years ago

Maybe you can lessen the danger by cutting off some weight on the house side of the trees James?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago
Astute observation by you. As I always am present t home inspections or my buyers, I naturally do look for hazards and ave pointed out similar situations to home inspectors to make sure my principals are fully informed and protected. This is important, since many inspectors are not as thorough as you are.
Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) over 5 years ago

I think that's a great practice Norman.  Information is the goal of the home inspection.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

 Trees of this height don't appear to be a DIY job...and an expensive one....guessing you are right...part of the new owners "to do" list.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

It certainly is not S&D!  A friend of mine thought he could cut down a tree near his house with disastrous results!  Fortunately nobody was in his master bedroom at the time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

I list all the "concerns" in the vegetation  section of my reports. I do write up leaning trees, ones too close to the home and ones that are dead as well.

It's better to list it than to have a storm drop a tree and the buyers want an explaination on why I did'nt tell them it was a hazard that could happen.

Have a great day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thank you for reminding me I have to go cut up the rest of that "silver Maple."

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 5 years ago

I totally agree Clint.  You would be my home inspector.  I like circumspection in addition to a home inspection!

Those puppies are really heavy!  And insurance laws are very archaic.  They list "acts of God," and such.  If they can prove that you "should" have removed the tree, they might not cover a fall!

Raymond - the builders here install those because they are cheap!  They call them "Swamp Maples!"

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Had a leaner the other day. BIG pine tree. The gutters were clogged with needles, moss on the roof. Yep, it needed to go. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Good point Jim.  People don't think about all the peripheral problems trees close to houses can cause.  White pines can get to well over 100' tall!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Those cute little trees people plant right next to the house or driveway will always become a problem down the line! I always note in my reports if a tree is too close to the structure or the driveway, etc. The limbs scraping across the roofing when the wind blows too is a bad thing.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

These trees are WAY older than the house Fred.  They were left in the days when builders saved trees nearby to preserve the landscape of neighborhoods.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, We had a big issue with tree here this year in a area not too far from me. We had a wet snow storm followed by heavy winds. Several homes got smashed and power was out for over a week. People like trees till they come through the roof ;)

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay -- Fred's (#16) comment reminded me of the lombardy poplars the developer planted down the street in one development we lived in.  In about 10 years everyone was complaining about how their roots were messing up the road, and they had gotten tall enough to cause problems if storm was bad enough, since they were fast growing.  One has to consider the plants and how they relate to the home -- and any overhead wires.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 5 years ago

Ouch Don!  They are pretty, even when they are in the bedroom!

Steven - that should always be investigated prior to planting.  Some trees can be very damaging.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay - It is not so simple to cut down trees in my area.  If a tree is larger than a certain size then an application must be submitted to the relevant municipality, a specialist report must be commissioned and you need to wait some time.  The request may or not be granted.  The bylaws have only been in place for a few years as part of the effort to keep trees from being cut down.  Even if a tree's roots are close to the foundation does not mean the request will be granted.  There have been some local news reports about this issue.

Posted by FN LN over 5 years ago

Marc - all I can say is Yikes!  If a dead tree is leaning toward a house and a stupid permit has to be pulled to remove it, and IF they deny that permit because the tree is pretty, and it falls, well, the people who live there will just have to live with the consequences of letting such rules be put in place!  "Leaders" without common sense exist because people without common sense allow them into office.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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