building valuations


All you ever wanted to know about

trees and tree problems!


Independent Building Surveyors but not Tree Specialists or Arboriculturalists

We are experienced independent building Surveyors who are knowledgeable in carrying out structural surveys on all types, styles and eras of buildings and we also have some knowledge of trees. If you are concerned about subsidence or heave or trees that are close to your property or not that close!

Large tree, is it a problem?

Please call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat. We would advise that this article will not tell you everything about trees but we feel it will help you understand about buildings and trees.

Influencing distance


Trees get the blame for a lot of the structural problems with buildings

It's been our experience over the many, many years that we have been carrying out structural surveys that trees and vegetation are getting the blame for almost every property problem.

Today felling a tree near to a property seems to be almost standard practice. We would say that trees can be innocent and are not necessarily causing structural problems. In fact if the tree is cut down it can in some cases be more likely to cause structural problems than if left and maintained. Here are some of our thoughts on trees and some important facts about trees.

Should the tree have been cut down just because it was close to this property?


A large tree very close to a house

Tree cut down in a rear garden


Some good things about trees

1.  They can help stop the ground from becoming waterlogged.

2. They can help give shade from the sun.

3.   They can help hold sloping ground/banks of earth together.

4.   They look nice and can bear fruit

5.   They change appearance in different seasons

Weeping willow needs a lot of water and grows well in wet or moist soil


Why a tree is like a glass of wine!

When we say this we do not mean literally a full glass of wine but we mean the shape of the wine glass and this is a good way of remembering how a tree roots should be. Balance and equilibrium is what the tree is achieving with its different roots. A root system will have:
  1. Lateral / anchor roots (woody)
  2. Feeder roots (non woody)
  3. Root hairs

Tree and roots shaped like a wine glass with the root's much larger than the visible parts of the tree


What do the circles and ovals mean in our building surveys?

We utilise a system of circles and ovals within our Building Surveys to highlight property issues so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.

Large tree within influencing distance


Here are few terms about trees that you may know the meaning of:


An evergreen tree does not shed its leaves in the autumn and remains green and leafy all year. Trees such as pines, conifers and cedar are evergreen.

The root ball (green) will be quite small in comparison to the size of the conifer


A deciduous tree will shed its leaves in the autumn usually after the leaves have changed colour. Oaks, Horse Chestnuts, Weeping Willows and Ash are all deciduous trees.

Deciduous tree starting to lose its leaves in Autumn

Heart Root system

Beech and Birch trees are examples of trees with a heart root system. This is where the tree has different size roots that run diagonally into the soil from the trunk.


Tap Root system

These are the deeper tree roots that can develop below the trunk. Most trees do not have these. Oak and Yew trees are examples of trees that can have a tap root if soil conditions are suitable.

Yew tree with hanging pub sign of the same name. Yews can have a tap root system


Surface root system

This system has large roots that spread horizontally just beneath the earth with smaller roots that grow from these vertically. Ash and Norway Spruce are examples of this system.


Influencing Distance

This seems to be different from traditional influencing distance and is what we term as the distance insurance companies are happy to insure a property without a premium at.

Tree towering above property is definitely within influencing distance of the property!


Influencing distance

Damage to a garden wall where tree roots have grown through it

Free phone 0800 298 5424


Please have a look at the website. Here are a selection of surveying articles that may be of help to you:

Foundations and underpinning

Information on Cracking and Movement

Should I have a Structural Survey?


Tree preservation orders (TPO)

A tree preservation order is an order made by a Local Authority or Council to protect the trees in the borough. This order can prevent trees from being cut down, lopped, pruned or uprooted. Trees under a TPO are often significant to the area either visually or historically and the order can be applied to single or groups of trees such as woodland areas.


Conifers or Leylandii the neighbourhood nuisance

These fast growing trees that were so popular in the 1970's and 1980's, giving an instant fence, have caused all sorts of neighbourhood problems including blocking of light, known as the right of light and the pushing over of fences.

Leylandii or conifers

In a best case scenario this is something that can be resolved on a friendly basis by having a chat with your neighbour. In a worst case scenario, and which is what we often come across, is a legal case where we are asked to comment on things such as where the boundaries are and on whose land are the trees on. There are also legal cases relating to the right of light.

Large conifers between properties can cause problems with neighbours

Conifers have been cut down

Hedge of conifers


What do the ovals or circles in our building surveys mean?

Within our reports we utilise a system of ovals and circles to highlight problem areas or characteristics within a property to better explain the issues. If this does not explain the issue completely then we can also use one of our sketches that have been commissioned exclusively for us for use in the reports.

Blocked hopper head

Hopper heads can become blocked with leaves and debris


London Plane trees

If you have ever lived in the leafier areas of London or are familiar with the area then you will be aware of the most commonly seen trees there. Often known as just Planes these trees can reach a substantial height of 40 metres and have leaves that are similar in shape to the Maple. The trees have the ability to shed their bark along with any pollutants they absorb which is why they thrive in the city and cope with the pollution well.


Moss growing on the north side of the tree

There is a phrase that states if you are lost without a compass then if you find a tree with moss growing on it then this points to the north, this is because the North side usually gets less sun. Although moss does grow more on the North side it can also grow on other sides dependent on conditions.


Christmas tree of lights

This photo is a fun thing to see although a tree close to your property may not be as funny!

Christmas tree of lights


Trees and clever Apps you can get for your phone

There are number of useful apps that you can get to help identify trees from the different leaves.


Caveat Emptor, why have an independent building survey?

You should always have an independent building survey carried out if you are thinking of buying a property as this will highlight any problems such as movement or subsidence in the property. Caveat emptor means buyer beware and means you would be liable for any problems; the estate agent is working for the seller of the property and may not advise you of any problemsRemember the building Surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart.


Trees and movement in structural frame buildings

Subsidence and heave

Particularly in a clay soil where it is affected by the moisture content there can be problems with trees and their roots which will search for water during a dry summer causing subsidence due to reduction in the soil.

In areas where trees have been cut down the soil can become saturated with water and can lead to heave.

Concrete underpinning

Heave Defined:

Heave is an upward movement caused by activity in the ground.



Underpinning can take many forms. Traditional methods were to dig under the property and add concrete foundations whereas in more recent times a variety of underpinning including:-

1.  mini pile foundation, literally poles of concrete that go down into a firm bedrock to support the house

2.  Stabilisation of the ground by filling in with a dry mix.


Independent Building Surveyors with Thermal Image Cameras

Yes we do have thermal imagers and yes it can be dangerous for Surveyors using thermal imagers if they do not have enough experience working with them. We have developed knowledge of thermal imaging cameras over the many years we have now worked with them. We have even given lectures about them at universities

The photos below were taken as a bit of fun to show how warm trees are.

A tree!

Thermal image of the tree


Independent Building Surveyor

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a Building Surveyor, with regard to property problems caused by trees or any other property matters please Free phone 0800 298 5424 and we will call you back.


Example of our survey reports

We are more than happy to email you examples of our Surveys that we have carried out on similar properties to the one that you are looking to buy although we do appreciate that all properties are unique. We really believe that you should see what you are getting in the form of an example Survey before you purchase a property. Please free phone 0800 298 5424.


Surveying articles

The above article has been written to stimulate debate and discussion. We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The content of the website is for general information and entertainment only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be taken before making such a decision. Free phone on 0800 298 5424.


All rights reserved by

All rights are reserved the contents of the website is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of


Free phone 0800 298 5424


building engineers



Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
© Copyright
Site Map

1stassociated-logo-for-footer IVSA-badge IVSA-putting-client-first call-us-for-footer

We have thousands of free property articles to help you - or call us freephone on 0800 298 5424

We have been working in the property industry for many years and have been
providing free property articles for over ten years. All for free and to help you with buying your next property.

House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

External - Helpful information on building problems on the outside of the property

Chimney issues and problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

Foundations and Structures and Settlement and Subsidence and Underpinning

Pitched Roofs Problems and Solutions

Roof Problems

Wall Problems

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Internal - House problems we have investigated inside

All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


Commercial Property Services

Building Terms Explained and Directories

Commercial Property Surveys

Commercial Structural Surveys

Leisure Facilites

Offices Large and Small

Shops and Retail

Warehouse and Industrial Buildings

Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

A Beginner's Guide to Dilaps

Damp Mould and Condensation

Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

Dilapidations and Negotiations

Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

Energy Saving what can I do?

Finance what is a Financial Adviser (We are not Financial Advisors)

Fire Risk and Help

Health and Safety Risks

Insurance how do I get the correct property insurance?

Landlords Surveying Advice

Property Investment how can I invest in property?

Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

Weather how does weather affect my property?



Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

Industrial Buildings and Warehouses and what our clients say about us

Offices Large and Small, reviews and feedback from our clients

Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

Shops and Retail, helpful reviews from our clients


First Time Buyers

Buying a Leasehold or Shared Freehold Home

Buying and Selling Houses for the experienced house and home purchaser

First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

Building Surveys

Building Surveying Useful Information


Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

Disputes and Party Walls

Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

Building Surveys, reviews and feedback from satisfied customers

Buy to let property clients, what they say about our structural surveys

Buying at auction, review of the survey

Buying bungalows and retirement properties and how our surveyors can help

Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

Residential Surveys

House and Home Surveys

Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial Surveys

1st Associated Surveyors Are Also Available in the Following Areas:

East Anglia and East

South and South East

West Country and South West


North and North East



London Markets

London Parks



Areas of Britain

1stAssociated Independent Expert Property Surveyors

Specialists in Home Buyers Reports, Building Surveys and Structural Surveys and Schedules of Condition

All Surveyors are Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified and RICS regulated

and are Members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association

Putting the Client First

We do not accept service of documents by email or fax