Home >  Blog >  The root of the problem

Published on 24th August 2017

Author: Buildfix

Can we city dwellers coexist with nature?

As the sprawl of our city pushes further into the surrounding countryside, it removes everything that gets in the way. However, after some time nature slowly begins to re-establish itself and this can be seen in the inner cities.

A major problem that faces building owners in the inner cities is trees and more so the tree roots. How to deal with trees and their roots will usually depend on a few factors. They are:


  • The species 

  • Distance from your home or structure.

  • Age of the tree and how much more growth it has left.

What problems do tree roots cause to buildings?

As trees become more established, they can have a devastating effect on the structural stability of surrounding buildings. The effect of this can be seen as sunken foundations and wall cracks above ground. Tree roots can impact building structures either "directly" or "indirectly." Direct tree roots damage can be noticeable if the tree root penetrates the surface of the ground and heads towards a building and leads to wall cracks, subsidence or building heave.


If not observed from above ground, direct tree root damage can be considered if a tree is in the vicinity of a structure that is damaged with the consideration of species and distance from the structure


A general rule of thumb to follow is; tree roots tend to grow twice the distance away from the trunk as the branches, so if the branches of a tree are nearby a building then the roots may be directly affecting the structure.


Tree roots affecting structures indirectly do so by removing moisture from the building foundations. Roots cause structural problems when the soils below a wall shrink or become aerated and weakened. The effects of this allow buildings to subside and become structurally unsound and this can be noticed above ground as cracked walls.  


What to do if tree roots cause structural damage to your building.

Like all structural problems, the cause will have to be rectified first, and in the case of root damage the tree will have to be removed or the roots permanently maintained. Secondly, the structure will require an inspection by an expert to determine the extensiveness of the damage and a permanent structural repair solution.

Tree root under brick footing (left) causing direct structural damage to the building (right).

How we can better manage our buildings to cope with tree roots


Ok, let's face it, we don't always get to chop our resident tree down as sometimes the local council sees them as more important than your home's structural stability.


So what can be done to stop your wall from cracking and foundations from sinking? 


Your guide to keeping your building safe from trees:


  • Structurally repair all wall cracks and stabilise foundations

  • Remove and maintain roots that are affecting the structure

  • Trim back tree branches yearly

  • Install a tree root barrier

  • Keep ground near trees moist during dry weather. 



Concerned about tree roots affecting you're foundations?

If you’d like to know more about GeoPoly™ or worried about your house sinking because of roots and need more information, we’d be happy to tell you more.

Call Buildfix on 1300 854 115 or book a FREE inspection today.

* If you reside in NSW, ACT or southern QLD.

Head Office:

259 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2041

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