If only the title of this blog post were true, I would be a happy man. As it is, I have a headache in the form of an Oak tree that is affecting the value of my house. The Oak tree in question had already been resident in the rear garden of my property for many years when the wife and I bought the house a decade ago. At the time, I had visions of building a massive tree house for the three or four kids that we intended bring up. This was something I thought was a great idea after watching so many movies where children had such a great time in their tree houses. As you can imagine, ten years later there are plenty of little ones, but not so much as a swing dangling from the tree.
Making the Tree Part of the Home and Landscape
When we first moved into our home, we never considered the tree to be a concern. We had a thorough survey before the purchase and this did not highlight any risks from the tree. Things have changed dramatically for us since then and our tree is now the subject of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). This means that we are required to obtain permission even before we prune the branches. This came about because the tree is part of the landscape, which is clearly visible from the rear of our property that backs on to a playing field area.
The Problem with the Tree Preservation Order
The tree preservation order only became an issue because we applied to build an extension on the property and we needed to remove the tree and replace it with foundations. We had been experiencing problems with our drainage system because the tree roots had broken through the old drains. We had someone too look down our drains to see why we were constantly experiencing blockages and the camera showed roots had broken through in to the network in a number of places. As this would require some considerable work, we decided to remove the tree and apply for planning permission to place the extension where the tree would have been.
The Tree and Mortgage Problems
When we applied to re-mortgage our house to fund the proposed extension, we hit a major stumbling block. The home in its current state deemed an unsafe investment for a mortgage company because of the situation with our drains and the possible damage the roots will cause to the foundations of the current building. We explained that the money we required would add value to the home and this was accepted by our bank which we already had a mortgage with, but the problem really began when we tried to obtain planning permission.
A Catch 22 Situation
We were unable to remove the tree as our council planning department placed a tree preservation order on it. There are actually laws that prevent us from touching the tree except to remove dead wood. If the tree was a danger to us or anyone else, we could have the tree removed, but in the current situation, we have no options apart from waiting for the tree to die naturally. We tried arguing that the drain blockages would cause a health hazard, but the answer we were given was to reroute the drainage system to a road which runs alongside our home. Until the tree affects the stability of our house it looks like we are stuck in our current situation.
If we had known about tree surveys when we first bought our property it could have been a factor that would have stopped us completing the purchase. Unfortunately, we have learned the hard way.