A home inspection is a crucial part of the home-buying process. White the building itself is almost always thoroughly inspected before purchase, it is also important to inspect the landscape. Trees, as the biggest natural part of a landscape, should be a regular part of a home inspection.
Why Include Trees in a Home Inspection?
Because trees have value. Not only do trees improve the aesthetics of a property, they can also increase property value. Studies claim that property values can be increased by up to 30% for treed versus non-treed landscapes. Trees also provide wildlife habitat, clean the air, help mitigate flooding and remove air pollutants, among many other benefits.
If you wait until after purchasing a home to assess the trees, you could be surprised to later find out that thousands of dollars in maintenance is needed to correct health and safety issues.
If you’re planning on doing construction, your arborist can advise you on the suitability of preserving specific trees for construction. A detailed tree preservation plan can be prepared for trees chosen to remain. This page by Gary Johnson gives a good overview of tree preservation for homeowners.
What about the Trees is Evaluated?
Health – Trees may have safety issues, nutrient deficiencies, water problems or may simply be in a poor location to grow well. By evaluating tree health, remedies can be prescribed to correct issues before they become critical.
Species – Different species have different management needs. Species also vary in what they contribute to a property.
Contribution to Property – Does the tree provide shade? Fruit? Wildlife value? Aesthetics? Is it a good fit for the property, or will it outgrow its space? Questions such as these can determine what your trees bring to your property individually and as a collection
Maintenance Needs – Trees may need pruning, soil management or pest management for health, safety or aesthetic reasons.
Appraised Value – Trees are often appraised for their value in case of loss. If a tree is killed by lightning or illegally removed by a neighbor, for example, you can potentially recover the lost value of the tree. Feel free to read more about appraised tree values here.
Who Performs the Inspection?
An arborist who is an ISA Certified Arborist and/or Registered Consulting Arborist should perform the inspection. You can read more about those qualifications at the links provided. The International Society of Arboriculture provides great info on why you should have an arborist with credentials inspect your trees here.