Trees and Their Effect on Building Footings

effect of trees on buildings

It’s no secret that Australians are fond of trees: over 16% of our country’s entire land area is covered in forest. We’re fortunate enough to have 123 million hectares of forest in Australia. While this number is of benefit both for the environment and your next trip, it also has its downsides. Trees can actually be detrimental to your home.

AS2870-2011 has given so many warnings to design engineers and builders. All alarms about the adverse effects trees and vegetation can have on the footings of the house.  Still, we see newly built houses surrounded by gardens and trees in Melbourne.

Melbourne has reactive soil. Trees can cause severe footing movement to properties built on such soil.

Why Do Builders Ignore Warnings by the AS2870-2011?

Recently we inspected severe damage to a recently built two-story house caused by trees. So we decided to consult a reputable Australian builder. We wanted to get a better understanding of why builders ignore AS2870-2011 warnings. His only response was: “They make the house look prettier in the eye of the potential buyer.”

Unfortunately, aesthetics take precedence over the safety of a home. However, very few home buyers are even aware of the damage that trees can have on footings. 

They have no idea that building gardens and forests around their dream home, can lead to severe damage in less time than it took to build.

But why does this happen? The answer is always the same: reactive soil.

why do cracks appear in the wall of Melbourne-based properties?
Cracks in the wall of a building located in Melbourne

Major Cause of Cracks to Houses in Melbourne

The foundation soil in Melbourne is of a moist clay-like texture. Therefore it is highly reactive. Reactive soils shrink when they lose water and swell when they absorb water. This means that your home’s footings will constantly move along with the shrinking and swelling. Plants and trees exacerbate this problem because. Why? Because suck the moisture out of the soil, causing it to shrink. When plants and trees are placed near the home, the footings of your home will settle due to the soil’s shrinkage. While minor shifts are normal, due to the reactive soil, plants and trees make the problem worse. It can lead to major footing shifts and result in large cracks throughout your home.

how garden beds and trees can damage the house
Garden and trees around the house

Learn more about Melbourne geology Here.

The next time you think about buying a new home or investment property, be sure to first hire experts to do pre-purchase inspections. This will save you time, money and the stress that comes along with constantly needing to fix a home that you had no part in damaging.

What is Efflorescence and How to Prevent it (simplified)


More Posts

Send Us A Message

Send a message (#4)