Trees and Your Home

Tree Damage 

tree

Trees can cause major damage to your home, garden and boundary walls. Without care and control, they may cost you a lot of money and no small amount of effort to fix.

Ensure also that shrubs are not planted too close to masonry walls. The building regulations specify a minimum distance of 1,2 m for normal soils and 1,5 m if you have clayey soil.

Tree roots

Roots can also grow beneath your foundation and lift the house or they can leach water from the ground during dry spells and sink or settle the house unevenly.

Trees cause the soil to dry out and, in the case of clay soils, to shrink.

Any subsequent watering or extended rain periods will cause the clay to swell. In this way, trees and large shrubs can cause movement on clay soils resulting in damage to your home and walls.

The amount of movement depends on the percentage of clay content, the depth and extent of the root system of the tree and the efficiency of the tree to extract moisture from the soil.

When underground sewer and water pipes develop small leaks, roots will quickly take advantage of those leaks. Before you realise it you have a blocked sewer line and pools of water and sewage in your yard.

Trees not to plant

All trees should be regarded as a potential source of damage. The following varieties are, however, particularly prone to causing damage:

  • All eucalyptus varieties
  • Lombardy (Free State) poplars
  • London planes
  • Willows of any type
  • Jacarandas

Also, make sure to keep an eye out for signs of trouble. Clues that roots have clogged pipes include slow-flowing drains, as well as gurgling from toilet bowls. If you suspect a problem, sewer cleaning companies can clear root-clogged sewers.

New trees

Depending on the amount of clay in your soil, plant trees as recommended by SANS10400-H Annex-D: Tree Damage to Walls & Foundations. Find out what the expected mature height of the tree should be and multiply by the factor below.

  • Slight clay content – height x .75
  • Moderate clay content – height x 1
  • High clay content – height x 1.5

This will provide you with the distance you should plant the tree from walls, your home’s foundation and your sewers.

Storm damage

Above ground, trees can cause other problems for homes when they get damaged by severe storms, wind, or lightning. This can send trees or branches crashing down or through the roof of your house.

Old trees

Dead or dying trees are particularly problematic because branches are already brittle. You can tell a tree is dead or dying if:

  • The tree doesn’t leaf out in spring, or it produces small, discoloured leaves.
  • Splits appear in trunks and branches.
  • Trunks become hollow.
  • Fungi such as mushrooms grow on branches or root flares.
  • Trees tilt more than 15 degrees from the vertical.

It’s sometimes hard to predict all the ways a tree can wreck your property. Look for obvious tree defects such as holes on trunks and dead branches.

You should also prune trees every two years to raise canopies and remove dead branches. You should trim tree limbs away from your roof and your neighbour’s property.

If you’ve got a tree that’s causing problems for your home, you have some options:

  • Remove the tree.
  • Move the tree, which depends on age and size. Younger trees are more likely to survive the move than older trees, which could cost tens of thousands to relocate.
  • Control the roots by either pruning them, blocking them with plastic barriers or applying a growth inhibitor. This will redirect the tree’s energy toward fighting disease and pests, rather than growing roots and branches.

Removing Trees

You should consider the effects of the removal of trees on clay sites. It is important to realise that removal might result in large swelling movements as the dry clay absorbs water. This will particularly have an effect where trees have lowered the water table over a period of time.

Cracks and how to handle them

Don’t Panic when your house cracks!

cracks

Most homes develop cracks. Old and new homes can develop cracks depending on climatic and physical factors.

However, it is worth getting to the bottom of what is causing the crack. A crack is actually the visible symptom of a possible problem and not the problem in itself.

What causes cracks?

New homes

In new homes, settlement may cause minor cracks. Normal foundation settlement occurs when the underlying soil compacts as a result of construction on previously undisturbed soil, changes in soil conditions and moisture. Typically small, hairline-sized cracking may be the result of the minor settlement, expansion and contraction, or changes in a season or cycle.

Usually, these cracks, though often unsightly, are not structurally significant.

Older homes

In older homes, changes in climatic conditions can affect the structure. Houses move with the climate. Heat and moisture will make them expand, cold and dryness will make them contract slightly. This movement is normal and in most cases will not cause cracks. Unusually hot or cold spells can result in increased expansion or contraction of the structure which may cause cracks.

The rise or fall of the water table in very dry or very wet conditions can also affect the house’s foundations. Continue reading “Cracks and how to handle them”

Winter Home Maintenance

Winter Home Maintenance in Gauteng

roof inspection

Maintain your home, especially the roof, on an annual basis. If you don’t do the small repairs they could end up as expensive repairs.

The roof

Your roof is the most important component of your home, protecting you, your belongings and the structure of the building. Damage to the roof can occur due to rain, wind and hail. You should regularly check the roof of your home for any leaks. Also inspect the ceiling, walls and the area around your home for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can mean that there are leaks that you will have to attend to.

Check the chimney

Loose flashings, damaged masonry and loose bricks will allow rainwater in a house. Be sure to give the chimney an inspection to ensure everything is fine. Refit loose flashing or replaced as necessary. Furthermore, chisel out the damaged mortar joints and rejoint, and also repair loose bricks.

Loose, dislodged or broken roof tiles or ridge caps

If you have the ladder long enough, inspect the roof for loose or crumbling mortar along the ridge cap. At the same time, check for cracked or damaged roof tiles while you’re up there. However, if you do discover problems and can’t deal with it yourself, call in a professional roofing contractor. Continue reading “Winter Home Maintenance”

Is your lapa safe?

Inspect Your Lapa

Lapa inspection

Have your lapa inspected!

The other day a client asked me to inspect his thatch lapa which appeared to have serious defects.  He had moved into his new home in February this year. He later realised that his lapa may be structurally unsound and unsafe.

The defects were not noted in the seller’s disclosure nor was the lapa on the approved plans for the property! Armed with my inspection report he decided to approach the seller to demand recompense.

Many homeowners know very little about the lapas they have around their swimming pools and in their gardens.

Obviously, the thatched roof is the most important part of the lapa because that keeps you dry! But did you know that thatch roofs should have a roof slope of 45˚ or more to perform properly?

The steep slope is needed so that water will run off from the thatch with minimum penetration into the thatch. At a pitch of less than 45° the thatch will decay rapidly. Furthermore, the thatch will absorb the water increasing the weight on the support structure!

What about the thickness of the thatch?

Continue reading “Is your lapa safe?”

INSPECTOR HOMES is now THE HOME DETECTIVE

INSPECTOR HOMES is now THE HOME DETECTIVE

HOME DETECTIVE

THE HOME DETECTIVE was INSPECTOR HOMES

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.

I have had to change the name of my business because of threats of legal action. INSPECTOR HOMES is apparently too close to the name of a home inspection franchisor. He and his franchisees believe the name INSPECTOR HOMES was taking business away from them. Little do they realise that it is not a name that makes the difference but the excellent SERVICE that I provide. However, on legal advice and to avoid unnecessary and expensive litigation INSPECTOR HOMES is now no longer!

Different name but still the same GREAT SERVICE! 

inspector homes

Jurie Fourie – THE HOME DETECTIVE

Certified Member of the  International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

Inspected once, Inspected Right!®