People love to beautify their yards with trees and other plants.
For some it is like some sort of “homeowner right” to plant whatever they want, wherever they want, without giving any consideration as to how big that plant or tree will get and how it might affect them or their neighbors.
Some species of bamboo, if left to their own devices, can be a nightmare for a neighbor who doesn’t love bamboo as much as you do. There are lots of trees with different growth profiles that make more sense to plant in some locations as opposed to others. For example planting that little Sequoia you bought for a Christmas tree, two feet from the foundation on New Year’s Day, might not seem like such a good idea to the home buyer or home inspector 50 Christmas’s from now. For 50 years it will have been trashing the roof and gutters with huge amounts of debris. Its limbs in contact with the gutter will have been a great pathway for a perpetual rodent infestation in the attic. Its roots will have been playing sumo wrestler with the foundation.
All told, by the time the foundation is repaired, the Pest Control Company is paid many many times, the attic is cleaned (maybe more than once), the attic is re-insulated (maybe more than once), the gutters are replaced, the roof is patched several times, and finally, the 50 year old tree is removed, it got to be one heck of an expensive Christmas tree.
Most trees, even the ones that say “dwarf” on the label will need pruning and controlling to keep bad things from happening. This is true even when they are planted with some forethought. For example take the small maple in the picture below.
This tree is what would be considered a “dwarf,” and right now it is pretty much clear of the structure—at least no branches are touching the house. A squirrel or rat could likely climb out on a branch and its own weight would lower the critter to the roof—maybe—but why they would bother is anybody’s guess. On the other hand, all the moss visible at the corner of the roof is consistent with the tree being much closer to the roof recently. Fairly recent pruning of the tree in that area agrees with that scenario.
That the tree was much closer to the roof and the side of the house in recent history would explain the evidence of a rather huge rat infestation in the attic. With tree branches in contact with the home, they could maintain a virtual highway into the attic through the hole in the vent screen at the soffit in that area.
Once again the familiar rodent “body grease” markings from the “original greasers,” at the entrance hole and on the wood platform below the hole, are images worth a thousand words.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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