British Trees and Potential Impact on Buildings

Trees, along with some plants, have the potential to cause damage to buildings and/or services such as drains/pipes/cables/etc… This can happen in a number of ways:

  • Roots: The roots of trees can grow and spread, causing damage to building foundations, pipes, and drainage systems. This is especially true for trees with large, spreading root systems like the common lime, horse chestnut, and poplar.
  • Branches: Overhanging branches can cause damage to roofs, gutters, and walls, especially during storms or high winds.
  • Leaves and debris: Falling leaves, branches, and other debris from trees can clog gutters and drainage systems, leading to water damage and other issues.
  • Insects and pests: Trees can attract insects and pests that can damage buildings, such as termites, carpenter ants, and rodents.

Several British trees have the potential to cause damage too, particularly if they are located too close to the structure or underground services. Here are some examples:

  1. Common Lime (Tilia x europaea) – This tree can grow to a large size and has a strong, spreading root system that can cause damage to foundations, drainage systems and walls.
  2. Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) – The large size of this tree means that its roots can interfere with building foundations, and the weight of its branches can cause damage to roofs and walls.
  3. Oak (Quercus robur) – While oak trees are a symbol of strength and longevity, their roots can cause damage to buildings, particularly if the tree is located on clay soil.
  4. Poplar (Populus species) – The fast-growing roots of this tree can cause damage to drainage systems and building foundations.
  5. illow (Salix species) – The roots of willow trees are known to cause damage to drainage systems, walls and foundations.Some plants also have the potential to cause damage to buildings in various ways, such as:
    1. Ivy: Ivy is a climbing plant that can attach itself to buildings, causing damage to walls and even gutters. The roots of the ivy can grow into cracks in the brickwork, leading to structural damage.
    2. Bamboo: Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that can cause damage to buildings if it is planted too close. The roots of the bamboo can grow quickly and spread out, causing damage to the foundation of the building.
    3. Trees: Trees can cause damage to buildings in several ways. Roots can grow into the foundation of the building, causing cracks and structural damage. Falling branches or the whole tree can also damage the roof, walls, and other parts of the building.
    4. Wisteria: Wisteria is a climbing plant that can cause damage to buildings if it is allowed to grow too close. The heavy weight of the plant can damage walls and gutters, and its roots can grow into the brickwork.
    5. Creeping Fig: Creeping fig is a type of climbing plant that can damage buildings if it is allowed to grow too close. Its adhesive pads can stick to walls and cause damage to the surface, and its roots can grow into the brickwork.

It is important to note that not all trees of these species will necessarily cause damage to buildings, and the extent of damage will depend on a range of factors, including the age and health of the tree, the soil conditions and the proximity of the tree to the building.  It’s also important to choose plants carefully and monitor their growth to prevent any damage to buildings and/or services. Regular maintenance and pruning can help to prevent damage caused by such trees/plants.  It’s also worth noting that some plants are difficult to identify during a survey, for various reasons including time of year the survey is carried out, whether they have been cut back and are therefore possibly not visible, where a garden/grounds are overgrown so possibly hidden by other plants or where they are situated on the land and in particular if they are situated in a location which is not accessible or otherwise not fully visible.

Furthermore, services including drainage pipes, electrical cabling, water/gas pipes, etc…  are usually not visible during a survey as that are sub-terranean in nature, i.e. situated beneath the surface.  It may be that these services are more easily identified by reference to plans and information obtained as part of the pre-purchase legal research that is carried out (including local authority searches, drainage/water reports, etc…  As such if you suspect that trees/plants have potential to impact these, following you having reviewed the relevent documentation, then you should ensure that further research is carried out as necessary to help provide further information/reassurance as may be necessary.

If you are concerned about potential damage from trees and/or a particular species of plant on your property (or indeed on adjacent land), it is advisable to seek advice from a qualified arborist or tree surgeon and with all such advice it should be obtained before legal committment to purchase occurs. You can also find more information on such matters by visiting the following website CLICK HERE along with possibly more online resources available by a simple Google or other internet search.