Tree roots and buildings

Trees sometimes grow near buildings and this can cause problems.

The potential damage is most often not due to direct physical pressure exerted by roots as a tree has to be very close to the structure for such damage to occur.

Most damage is secondary in nature particularly with soil types that shrink considerably on drying.

Here, when tree roots remove water from the soil, this can accelerate the drying and shrinking process and lead to subsidence. If in doubt it is a good idea to get the opinion of an RICS Building Surveyor.

It must be noted that in most cases trees located close to buildings will not cause any damage.

There is guidance on sensible tree planting distances which is mainly related to trees growing on shrinkable clay soils. Planting distances on other soil types are likely to be different.

Further information about the possible effect of tree roots is included in the RICS guidance note Subsidence in Relation to Insurance Claims.

Publications and further guidance

It is also important to consider plants which can cause damage to homes. Japanese knotweed can be a significant hazard.