When it's time for a home inspection, it is important to remember that an evaluation extends well beyond the walls of your house. Ignoring the outdoor areas, specifically the trees, could be a costly mistake down the road.
Be sure to examine the trees on your property closely. You may not have planted them or even maintained them while living in your home, but just like other aspects of your home, they need to be cared for and maintained too.
How to Prepare Your Trees for a Home Inspection
Start At the Bottom
The first thing to examine when inspecting the trees outside your home is the roots. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, it is unlikely that tree roots will pierce the foundation of a home, no matter how long they are.
The IACHI states that there are three main issues that roots can lead to. If there are preexisting structural errors, the roots can disrupt the foundation and enlarge cracks, potentially presenting major issues down the road, including flooding. But what is more likely is the extension of a large root system beneath the home, which can cause the foundation to rise. The third issue is when roots leech water from the soil under the house, which can lead to your home sinking unevenly into the soil.
Because of this, it’s very important to check for roots growing around or near the foundation of your home. This may require a professional to accomplish, but it’s an important step to ensuring the safety of your home and foundation, plus, it can end up saving you thousands of dollars' worth of repair costs in the long run.
Stay Safe and Protect Your Home
Tree branches, limbs, leaves and bark all require maintenance prior to an inspection. A common dilemma homeowners will face is if branches and limbs are hanging over electrical and telephone lines. This issue not only creates an immediate hazard but is quite dangerous to fix too.
According to Gardens Alive, it is best to observe a 10-foot rule, which states. that only trained professionals should work on any tree within 10 feet of an active electrical line. Adhere to this guideline so you don't accidentally cause damage to the tree, or more importantly, yourself. While most people understand touching a live wire is dangerous, many people don’t know that touching a branch that is contacting a live wire is equally as dangerous.
If you see branches approaching the lines, don't ignore the problem and be sure to contact an expert immediately. This is especially true for fast-growing trees, as they have the weakest branches and are most prone to breaking. Ignoring the issue and hoping it goes away could lead to power outages or other issues down to line, so make sure you are trimming any branches that may pose a threat.
Similar expert guidance may be needed if leaves fall into gutters and drainage pipes. Cleaning these things out before a home inspection is a good idea to avoid leakage, but make sure you are following correct protocol. Some leaves can be hard to reach, so hiring a trained professional to clean the gutters may be wise, especially if you are not accustomed to going on the roof of your home.
Additionally, it’s important to check for any sign of disease or pests as these can pose a significant risk. The most common sign of the disease is strange or uneven patterns on the leaves or branches. If you start to notice something changing in your trees’ appearance (aside from normal seasonal changes) it is probably time to call in a professional and have them look.
Give the Trees a Final Look
Before the home inspection begins, review the trees on your property one final time. Make sure to clear dead trees from the property as soon as possible, and examine the trees for other types of hazards, such as peeling bark, which can signal decay, or limbs that look like they may soon crack. Issues with things like the roots can often go undetected until it is too late to fix them, so it is wise to give them a close look.
While it’s not something that is “top of mind” for most of us, inspecting our trees is a crucial step in preparing our homes for a home inspection. Ensuring your trees are in proper condition and don’t pose a threat to the home can not only keep you safe but can also save you thousands of dollars in future repairs. To learn more information, please reach out to your local WIN Home Inspector and they will be glad to assist you.