Trees - good to have in the garden or not?

Over £25 million of damage has been caused to new homes by trees over the last six years, according to figures released by NHBC.

According to figures released by NHBC, over £25 million of damage has been caused to new homes by trees over the last six years.

The UK's leading warranty provider and standard setting body for new build homes has today issued guidance to home owners advising them of the best practice when planting trees close to their homes, due to the scale of the claims that it has received.

The figures show that over £25 million of claims were made by owners of new homes for damage to their property caused by trees between 2008 and 2013. Last year alone, NHBC paid out nearly £4 million in claims following structural damage caused by trees.

The NHBC guide offers practical advice to anyone thinking about planting new trees and shrubs or cutting back existing ones. Tips for homeowners include how to calculate a suitable planting distance away from houses and where to go to check if the tree is protected.

NHBC's Commercial Director, Richard Tamayo, says: "New greenery can create a more attractive garden as well as provide privacy and can help in reducing noise from a busy road. But roots and branches can also cause expensive damage to homes as our figures show.

'When an established tree is removed or a new one is added, it can affect the moisture content of the surrounding soil. In clay soils, this can cause swelling of the ground or shrinkage. This movement can potentially result in damage to the house foundations due to subsidence or heave, particularly where the foundations have not been designed with trees in mind.

'If the tree was added or removed before the house was sold by the builder, NHBC's Buildmark warranty may provide protection. However, if the tree was removed or planted by the homeowner subsequently NHBC cannot provide cover and the household insurance may also not cover the damage.

'This is an ideal time of year to start planting trees and shrubs ahead of those lazy summer days in the garden. But anyone thinking about planting new trees or shrubs should spare a thought for their home and their neighbours by getting an expert opinion before planting.'

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