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I'm considering buying a 45 year old house. The house is in good condition, and has a big old oak tree 15 or 20 feet from the back of the house. It's a beautiful tree, clearly as old as the house, but I'm concerned the proximity of the tree could threaten the house foundation or lead to roach infestations. Will this tree cause trouble?

The house is in the southeastern United States. Of course I'd get a home inspection before buying, but I'm too curious to wait.

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Other concerns: leaves blocking eavestrough, acorns sprouting in eavestrough, roots invading (clay) drain pipes –  User58220 Apr 5 at 16:39
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Spread, height and species isn't mentioned. Some Oaks develop heart rot, have an arborist check regularly. You don't want any limbs within reach where they can drop on the house. –  Fiasco Labs Apr 5 at 20:01
    
I haven't had a chance to take another good look at the tree but hope to do so soon. Are you warning against all overhanging limbs, or specifically those of an unhealthy tree? –  AceHarding Apr 5 at 21:38
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Overhanging limbs aren't a good idea, an unhealthy tree that can drop on the house, really bad. Hence the recommendation of consulting an arborist. –  Fiasco Labs Apr 7 at 21:17

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Maybe I can post some pictures later but I have 3 very large oaks next to my house - one is absolutely huge and 10 feet away. There are tons of limbs directly over my roof. Do I care? Not really. I asked my insurance company and they don't care nor do they offer discounts for trimming them back.

Pros:

  • Tons of shade when you are out
  • Definitely lower energy costs in the summer
  • Protects roof and cars from hail and harsh weather
  • I have a 15 year old roof that looks half its age
  • burglars scared of spooky trees leave my house alone
  • have sticks to burn in backyard fire pit
  • once the leaves come in the sun isn't blinding in the morning

Cons:

  • branches, squirrels, and acorns hit the roof in late summer and fall
  • pollen
  • acorn residue in gutters (I have a guard so leaves don't get in)
  • I might have to pay someone in the future to cut something... almost 10 years here and haven't but I could at some point
  • leaves... I mulch them up as it sheds. Not a ton of extra work but a little.

Things not mentioned:

  • roaches... huh? Never had a roach in my house.
  • foundation issues... the house would have already had issues. I would consider an older tree a minor threat to a patio area.
  • other bugs... Never had any sort of bug/termite issue at my house. I have 3 huge trees near my house and about 25 more in yard.

I would consider it only a plus given two things. First that the tree is in good condition. You don't need a pro for this unless you think it is iffy. Second if there is a branch that is a little too big for the tree creeping over the house.

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Does the tree spread over the house?

It's impossible to say that the tree will or won't cause problems - it might, or it might not. Many problems can be mitigated if you like having a tree in your yard - no point in mitigating them if you don't. For instance, if it does spread over the house, you can trim it so it does not. It can also cause benefits, such as reducing your airconditioning load, depending where it is.

Trees and termites and carpenter ants are typically connected (sensibly enough) - I'm not aware of any common connection of trees to roaches. I connect roaches to uncleaned kitchens, mostly. There are control approaches that do not involve removing the tree if the associated critters show up.

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This isn't an answer to the OP's question but I can't add a comment to either of the answers above (so, please don't down vote me!)

Regarding cockroaches:

"The large, outdoor cockroaches breed prolifically in pine straw mulch and poorly in gravel or on bare soil."

Although the tree above is not a pine, I would still take care not to leave excessive accumulation of leaves near the perimeter of the home.

"Fill tree holes with cement to remove this prime harborage area."

source: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig082 "Cockroaches and Their Management"

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