When a tree survey is carried out – regardless of its reasoning – there will always be a limit to its validity. The same is true for domestic and commercial building surveyors, but why?

People who carry out surveys, no matter the industry, will be responsible for the results of their surveys for many years, even after they stop practicing for retirement. However, limits are placed on how old a survey can be to prevent new homeowners holding the surveyor responsible ten years after the fact.

The reason for this is because as the years pass, a building which looked fine when surveyed may develop structural issues, dampness, bowed ceilings amongst others – and it is considered unfair to hold a surveyor responsible for something that was not visible nor exhibited any symptoms when the survey was carried out years before.

The same is true for trees, however, the overall risk from tree failure is extremely low. Therefore, carrying out an assessment of every tree every year isn’t reasonable or proportionate when there are no obvious features suggesting a problem or the tree is located in a place where even if it does fail it will not cause any injury or harm, such as a remote farmers field.  

Trees are living, breathing organisms, and despite their unmistakable presence and beauty, their structural stability can be affected by a great number of things over relatively short periods. Therefore, the re-inspection frequency for a tree will vary depending on where it is located i.e. very busy city centre with lots of seating and traffic etc, down to the remote farmers field we talked of earlier. The inspection frequency will also be affected by the presence of a risk feature such as cavities, decay and other obvious issues. The size of the tree will also be taken into account as a newly planted tree will pose less of a risk than a 100 year old London Plane on a suburban street. Storm events can also affect trees and it may be reasonable to have your tree inspected after significant storm events regardless of what inspection frequency has been decided upon.

For this reason, we will say that the survey, inspection, and recommendations are relevant for the day that the tree was inspected. The frequency of re-inspection can vary from 3 months to 5 years depending on the situation.


What about other types of tree reports or tree related legislation?

Tree Mortgage Report – If a lender has asked you for a tree mortgage report prior to agreeing to a mortgage they will usually be concerned about subsidence. Subsidence is a very complex issue and can be affected by changing environmental factors. Therefore, the tree report will have a fixed validity of 5 years. This exists to ensure that any action taken with regard to borrowing or lending are made with the most up to date information in relation to the trees in question.

Tree Protection Orders – TPOs are usually made provisionally for 6 months and are then extended permanently if the relevant Local Planning Authority (LPA) decide to do so. Once a TPO is confirmed this is permanent, unless the LPA decides to remove the TPO from the tree.

After applying for works to a protected tree, the LPA will either agree to the works or not. If they agree they will usually set a time frame of 2 years for the works to be undertaken.

BS5837 Tree Survey For Planning – During the construction of a new development, the BS5837 survey that is carried out will be relevant for 12 months before it needs repeating, as in that time, root and branch growth may change the recommendation made to the developer.

Tree Valuation Survey – A tree valuation survey is a great way to learn the value of trees and to increase the value of your home and its grounds. However, if the tree were to contract a disease, be heavily pruned, lose structural integrity or suffer other issues then its value would likely change. These types of reports are therefore limited to 12 months.

Matthew Lally has worked with trees across Europe for over 15 years. He holds a degree in arboriculture and is recognised as a LANTRA Professional Tree Inspector, and as a professional member of the Arboricultural Association. So, if you need of some friendly advice, a tree survey, a risk inspection, or a TPO consultation, why not contact Lally Tree Management today?