Common Defects: Trees

We all admire stately trees that add character and a sense of grandeur to properties. Large trees are typically very old and have a story all their own that likely dates back before the house even existed on the land.

Despite their grandeur and beauty, though, large trees are unfortunately a potential hazard to many homes. Their roots can grow very large and widespread underground, pressing against the foundation and causing structural damage over time. Their long limbs can extend out over roofs, sometimes touching the roof surface, and causing damage from continual friction or impact if they fall off. It’s hard to believe, but even very large trees can fall over in a bad storm – especially if the tree is dead or has other rot or damage.

As a general rule, tree limbs should be kept 10 feet or farther from a roof’s surface. Ideally, the limbs would not overhang the roof at all. While it is easy to see a tree’s limbs, however, it is not so easy to see or determine how large or far-spread its root system is. If a large tree sits very close to the structure, you can be sure its roots are likely very close to (if not in direct contact with) the foundation.

If your property contains a large tree near your house, you should maintain its limbs, at the very least. Be sure they are no closer than 10 feet from the roof and that no limbs are overhanging the roof surface. While large trees are beautiful and add character, your safety and the integrity of your home are far more important.

You may find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to consider removing the tree (or several trees) entirely. Like every living thing in life, they must come to an end at some point. If you find yourself in this situation, contact a reputable tree service that can assess the tree’s potential impact on the house and trim or remove it entirely, if necessary.

*To visit our main website, go to

Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, the top-rated inspection company in the greater Johnstown, PA area, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I’m also the owner of Hill Pest Control, LLC and a pest management professional committed to helping our clients rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: