House purchase, TPO tree proximity

House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby verandi » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:05 pm

Hi folks, have come here for some advice after hearing about this forum on another one. We've just had an offer accepted on a house; first time buyers and so completely new to both house buying as well as to the concept of a TPO tree.

In the front garden, close to the house (I'd say within 3 metres), is a really tall tree (much taller than the two-storey house). I think it's a beech tree, and it has a TPO. I have a photo, but I think I need to get to 3 posts to link it so will do so in a few posts time...

The roots can be seen spreading underground from the bottom of the tree in all directions. The pathway that leads from the pavement walkway to the front door is concrete - it has a small step in it at the point where it passes by the tree, and this step is not intentional, it's where the concrete path has cracked and either the top part has been held up by the roots or the bottom part has dropped.

This is obviously ringing a few alarm bells in terms of possible subsidence/movement affecting the house, although we couldn't see any evidence of this at the viewing other than the pathway, but we are complete novices and didn't look in that much detail (the fears with the tree only occurred to us later, stupidly).
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby verandi » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:09 pm

The house is about 40 years old and so we were originally planning to opt for the Homebuyers report. But now I'm worrying this won't be sufficient.

Trouble is, we've spent days reading about the different survey types, specialist surveys, drain surveys, arboricultural surveys, structural surveyor vs structoral engineer, etc. Our heads are spinning. We want to look into this in terms of a) pre-existing problems that the roots might be causing, and b) potential for future risks and what we could do to prevent these. But we have no idea still how to achieve this.

Having read a few forums on a similar theme there's conflicting info as to whether or not a full structural survey would offer any advice as to whether or not the tree posed any future risk, and would only identify subsidence if it was already present. Another option is to get an arboricultural survey by a tree surgeon, but would they be able to identify whether the tree is already causing subsidence in the property and what the cost of rectifying any existing problems might be? What investigations/surveys would you recommend, and how much might they cost on average? Ideally we want a step by step plan to minimise the financial loss should we get a scary result and decide to pull out.
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby verandi » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:18 pm

I'm also worrying about how the proximity and height of this tree might affect our ability to get both a mortgage and buildings insurance. Am I right to be concerned about this? I'm almost certain that our lender would flag up the tree on their valuation visit and recommend further surveys, not sure which though and how much this might cost us.

Having looked on a few buildings insurance company websites, they all have lists of assumptions or exclusions. These assumptions always state something along the lines of "there has been no subsidence, heave, structural movement of the property". I don't know whether the issue with the pathway alone would mean that we couldn't comply with this, or whether they're only interested in the house itself and any outbuildings. Trying to get a consistent answer from them on this is proving difficult.

Another major worry is that even if the surveys show no current problems and we go ahead and buy it, if there's a problem in the years we own the house, what effect would this have on the resale value and the ability of any future owners to obtain buildings insurance. I think it could be a bit of a nightmare to sell on. And we're wondering if just the presence of the tree might put off future buyers if they think it through half as much as we have.
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby verandi » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:29 pm

Is anyone in the know able to give me more info on what we may or may not be allowed to do under the TPO in the case of the tree already causing or causing in future - structural damage to the house, further damage to the pathway, damage to neighbours property, or even damage to the public walkway. What would our liability be in the latter two cases?
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby verandi » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:29 pm

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v291/harm_of_will/Treephoto.png. You can just about see the step in the path on that photo too.

We went and measured yesterday, the tree is 4m from the front of the house. The step that it's created in the path is about 2-3 inches deep.
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby span » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:06 pm

Remind me, have you actually bought this house yet? Cos if you haven't.................
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby mr sheen » Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:40 am

The tree may well affect both a mortgage and insurance since both assess the risks to the value of the property and chance of serious damage and large trees in close proximity to a property pose high risk.

Since this has a TPO.....potential for big issues! IF you manage to get someone to lend you a mortgage on it.

So you now have a choice of take on lots of issues and problems or find another property...I would be running away from this boiling pot of complications at a fast pace!
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby jonahinoz » Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:36 am

Hi,

You will have to pay for a Building Society valuation, which will cost you several hundred pounds. There will be Searches to pay for.

If you fell this tree, you will be required to plant another mature tree, also costing several hundred pounds. Felling will be expensive. Felling will not be the end of the problem.

Your solicitor will (probably) be working for the Lender too.They will instruct him to protect their interests, and you cannot overide those instructions, so he will probably advise his other client not to proceed.

A property devloper will probably buy this house, at a reduced price, without borrowing, and let it out to tenants who won't care about the tree, for a few years at least

If you are detemined to proceed, check out the original Planning Approval. It MIGHT just make some reference to protecting the foundations against the tree roots. If so ... do you trust the BCO to have done his job zealously? My friends bought a similar tree ... which died because the builder had chopped the roots many years previously. Dead branches were falling off onto their neighbours caravan. The base of the trunk was about 4ft dia, about 10ft in front of their living room window. During the felling operation, the council phones were buzzing ... neighbours reporting that a tree was being felled ... not their problem, was it.

WALK AWAY. Do not buy someone else's problem.

John W
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby Roblewis » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:25 pm

At this sort of distance from the property you are in severe risk of major structural problems. At around 100-150 years old judging from the trunk size this tree will long outlive you and was clearly there before the property was built. In this sort of situation I have rarely seen a council actually permit felling and only permit light branch trimming where there this is risk to the public. As others have said RUN fast as this will become a money pit.
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby COGGY » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:27 pm

There was a silver birch tree in our back garden when we moved in and we loved it at first. Then it began to push up the stones of the patio and we eventually had it cut down. We were lucky that there was no TPO. Imagine for a moment sitting in your new home, watching the tree and worrying what affect the roots are having on the house foundations. Safer by far not to buy this house. You will be disappointed at first but you will find another house you like and will be grateful not to have to worry about a tree.

Kind Regards Coggy
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby appledore » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:34 pm

I'd run away from this house. You're worrying about the tree now, so think how much more you'll be worrying if you buy the house.
Keep calm and carry on.
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby APC » Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:50 pm

A lot of hysteria in this thread. Essentially, the only proven damage is a lifted pavement which can be relaid easily enough.

You are not going to get subsidence if you are not on a shrinkable soil ie. clay.

The roots will not lift the house as the house weighs 100 tonnes.

Plastic sleeves can be inserted into pipes if they have any cracks or poor joins in, to stop the roots exploiting this and blocking them.

Bet your new neighbours are on at you from day one though to get rid of it.
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby COGGY » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:27 pm

Hi APC
I don't think you are correct in stating that only buildings on clay suffer from subsidence. Our area is extremely chalky. Our house (about 45 years old) is fairly solid. In very wet weather the door between the dining room and lounge would stick. When we had a garden room built about 3 years ago the building inspector insisted on extra concrete cross beams in the foundations. We thought he was being extra fussy, but now the door no longer sticks so we are grateful. Also as stated the roots of the tree in our garden lifted the heavy large patio stones.

Kind regards Coggy
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby Treeman » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:32 pm

COGGY wrote:Hi APC
I don't think you are correct in stating that only buildings on clay suffer from subsidence. Our area is extremely chalky. Our house (about 45 years old) is fairly solid. In very wet weather the door between the dining room and lounge would stick. When we had a garden room built about 3 years ago the building inspector insisted on extra concrete cross beams in the foundations. We thought he was being extra fussy, but now the door no longer sticks so we are grateful. Also as stated the roots of the tree in our garden lifted the heavy large patio stones.

Kind regards Coggy



Most subs damage is shrinkage and that only happens on clay soils and predominantly dry conditions
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Re: House purchase, TPO tree proximity

Postby COGGY » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:45 pm

Hi Treeman

I bow to your superior knowledge. :roll: I would not dream of argueing with a tree expert. (I try not to argue anyway, cos I am too old :roll: )

Kind regards Coggy
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