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Beech Tree

Janie BJanie B Posts: 953
We have recently been informed by our (friendly) neighbour that the enormous beech tree in our garden (circumference 375cm) is causing subsidence in her house (as confirmed by root reports carried out by her insurers), and it has been recommended that the tree is felled. This is clearly going to be a very long process, but wondered if anyone has had experience of this type of problem. We would obviously rather find another solution, it is a beautiful tree. Could her house, for example, be underpinned? We live in a conversation area, and I'm assuming the tree has a TPO on it (or if it hasn't, it will have one soon!), so clearly our local DC will be involved in any decision too, along with both her insurance company and ours (the cost could run to hundreds - if not thousands - of pounds I am told). Looking online, it appears that the tree is anything between 150-200 years old, which also makes me question whether the builders / developers / planning officers involved in the construction of her house 19 years ago have any responsibility for building a house so close to such a large old tree without any regard for the future of the construction. (Our house is over 200 years old, so I guess may well predate the tree). 

I accept this is almost certainly going to be a long and drawn out process, but any advice would be gratefully received!



  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    A quick Google on building near trees came up with this
    There were lots of other websites listed that you might find helpful.

    I expect your insurance company will give you help if your policy covers this.
    I hope you get to keep the tree as it is magnificent.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,792
    Hi Janie. First of all - what a real shame if the tree has to be felled. It's stunning.

    From what you've said about the age of the neighbour's house, I think that's the route I'd go down. Surely the house would have needed the correct, and appropriately substantial footings/foundations when it was being planned and  constructed so close to a mature tree? Certainly worth investigating. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,709
    Oh dear, what a horrid position to be in.
    How far is the beautiful tree from the neighbours house?
    How can they be sure it is your tree causing this problem might be poor foundations when constructed?
    What is the soil.?
    Clay is known to create shrinkage and ground heave.

    I doubt that a tree that old will have sent out longer roots in the last 19 years.
    It will probably not have grown wider or taller either, just put in girth.

    See table below.

    Good luck...what ever happens it will be stressful/horrid/expensive for you.
    Make sure your  building insurance policy includes legal may need it.
    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,860
    Possibly something to do with last year’s drought?

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Janie BJanie B Posts: 953
    Thanks for all the support and links... I'll definitely be looking them all up, will need all the help I can get!

    @Dovefromabove Yes, I'm sure it's something to do with last year's drought. In another part of our garden, another neighbour (my Mum funnily enough!)'s insurers have recommended we cut down two further large trees: a 21m high sycamore and a 16m high cedar (blue atlas), neither of which I'm overly concerned about, as they are not as large / prominent / beautiful as the beech. I understand that heave is different from subsidence, something else to look into, I guess. We have pretty clayey soil here. 

    @Silver surfer The neighbour's is the house behind the tree in the picture, so I'm guessing it's maybe 50m or so away? (I'm rubbish at estimating distances...). The reports from the bore holes made by the investigators have identified our beech roots to be the problem...
  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,709
    In pic there appears to be a tree much nearer to that house than your old Beech tree.
    I would suggest this is the culprit.
    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
  • Janie BJanie B Posts: 953
    @Silver surfer the other tree is a much smaller cherry, also in our garden. Apparently the root analysis pointed to the beech... 
  • mrtjformanmrtjforman Posts: 331
    lovely tree yes but digging up a mammoth like that is so much work. It's taller than a house, probably weighs more than a truck and with high winds blowing into those branches it's a matter of physics that the roots have to be that big and strong to hold it.

    I would hate to be in a situation like yours. You have done nothing wrong if you ask me. If the house is subsiding it is down to how poorly it was built in the first place when the architect knew about the tree. The times we live in.
    Of course the insurance company will try to pin all blame on your tree. 

    I think the bottom line is the tree has to come down. The longer it is left, the more of a problem it will become. The only real question should be who has to pay for it.

    You because it is your tree - which makes no sense as it has been there for 200 years.

    Or them because the house was built hastily on a poor location that now needs to be rectified.

    Don't try to save the tree but make sure they pay for any cost involved as it is their fault you are losing the tree, I'd agree to let them save her house but I'd ask for compensation for them having to destroy your tree. They'll probably say no but that's what i'd do. Hope it works out for you. Should be for the insurance companies to battle out.

  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,709
    50m/164ft  is a long way from your huge Beech.
    I would want to be present to verify said experts conclusions.
    Suggest the neighbours dig a trial short trench 10 m from their house and show you the tree roots.
    Or try doing it 40 m away on your plot.
    Do not believe all you are told.
    It is easier to blame your tree than shoddy foundations.
    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Just a thought regarding the bore holes that showed your roots, can they prove that they have appeared in the last 19 years and were not there before. 
    Possibly 19 years ago the building inspector was from the council, can't remember when it changed so you could employ your own. 
    If it was council they might still hold some information on foundation depth etc.
    Please keep us updated!
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