Know what's in your yard before buying a home

Know what's in your yard before buying a home

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A local expert is sharing advice for people shopping for a home, and whether they should think twice before buying a house with huge trees in the yard.

The certified arborists with Monster Tree Service of North Pittsburgh know why big trees can lead to big problems, and how the excitement of buying a home can come crashing down quickly.

"They see these beautiful houses, and the realtor tells them, 'Hey, you need to have this home inspected,' and 'Hey, it might have a leaky basement,' but nobody mentions the trees to them," said Cindy Starr Stewart, owner of Monster Tree Service of North Pittsburgh.

It could be your dream home with a shady yard, but Stewart said people need to think about the sprawling trees before buying a house.

"All of a sudden, this young couple bought this house, and all they saw ahead of time was how charming the trees were, and then they realized they bought themselves a $15,000 or $20,000 tree project. They weren't even thinking about it," she said.

A sound, mature tree can add value to a home, but just like you get an inspection to check on a home's roof, water tank, and foundation, you'll also want an arborist to inspect the trees before you close on a house. 

Certified arborists will look at the trees, and find out if any need to be removed or will require pruning.

"Trees do provide a lot for us. [Trees] provide a lot of charm, but they also provide a lot of risk," Stewart said.

She said one of the trees that cause the most problems is the pesky Bradford Pear tree, which is now banned in Pennsylvania, as they are known for falling apart in windstorms.

Stewart said strong winds are notorious for toppling trees in the North Hills.

"Where you have a lot of people putting in new housing developments, and then these trees end up in backyards that were never meant to be there," Stewart said.

A lot of trees that used to be in the forest are not ready for the winds to come.

"Those trees have always been protected in the woods, protected by other trees, so when big winds come, they have two things that usually happen. Either the wood breaks, or they uproot, and the whole thing falls over. They don't have the root system that they should have, and so, when strong winds come, that whole tree will uproot, and that's when we have the biggest damage to homes," said Stewart.

Once you're all moved into your new home and start planning big projects like adding a new driveway, Stewart said make sure you never cut your trees' roots.

"Having an arborist come in ahead of time to help you kind of assess that, and assess those risks, is a really inexpensive way to save yourself a lot of headache in the long run," she said.

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