When new homes are landscaped, the shrubs are often intentionally planted very close to one another to produce an immediately pleasing effect. Many homeowners do not plant shrubs with the future appearance in mind. Consequently, as the shrubs grow and fill out, they tend to crowd one another, losing their individuality. Eventually, they become unsightly, with portions dying off due to lack of sunlight. In addition, the growing shrubs often block walkways and produce so much shade that the area around the house is always damp, a condition conducive to the growth of decay fungi and mildew. By extensive pruning of the shrubs and transplanting others (if you want to save them), the area can often be completely rejuvenated and restored to its original beauty. For some people, their dream house is one that is covered with ivy. Actually, vines of any type growing up the outside walls of a house are quite undesirable. If you see vines on the house, you should consider their removal.


If there are trees on the property, they should be checked to see if any are dead or have any large dead branches. All dead trees should be taken down. Because they are vulnerable to insect damage and decay, they are a potential hazard, especially if they are located near the house. Large dead branches are also a hazard. On a windy day, they can break off the trees and fall to the ground or, worse, onto the house.

After a deciduous tree has lost its leaves, it can be somewhat difficult to determine whether it is dead or has any dead branches. However, if you see any limbs with the bark peeled off, you can assume that those branches are dead. (See FIG. 6-13.) If you have any doubt, after you move into the house, you should have the trees checked by a professional, or wait until spring and summer when all the trees are in full bloom.

If you find any dead trees or dead branches, record their location on your worksheet for later removal. Depending on the size and location of the dead tree, its removal can be somewhat costly. This type of work should be performed only by a professional who is insured in the event that the tree causes damage when it falls to the ground. In addition to dead branches, all limbs that are overhanging or resting on the roof should be pruned back. Otherwise, they might eventually damage the roof.

Real Estate Home Inspection photographs of house defects

If you are buying a newly constructed house with trees on the property, you should be aware that the roots of some of the trees might have been damaged during construction. This could occur as a result of heavy equipment (tractors or trucks) being driven too close to the tree. Trees that have had root damage during construction do not necessarily show any immediate effects. However, within a year or two and depending on the degree of damage, the trees may die. If care is taken during construction, this problem can be avoided. Your best bet is to buy a house from a quality builder.

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