is it possible to build a house with such a little clearance?

chuehNovember 26, 2011

I love this woody setting, but can anyone tell me if the house was built after the trees were there or before.

I assume that the house was built AFTER by only cutting the trees where the structure is. This house has all 3 sides surrounded by all the trees perhaps only 5 ft away from a house, except the opening for the driveway. Please look at the pictures. The second one is the aerial picture where you cannot even tell exactly where the house is, due to so many trees around. I put an blue-purple arrow there to indicate where the house is. You can see now a little roof color and sidings shown. According to the record online, this house was built in 1977. Is it possible to clear out so little land and build a house with not much clearance around it?

If the land was clear first and the house was built, how would the trees propagate pretty much the same way without weeds growing. Usually, once you clear a land out, weeds take over, instead of woods....

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david_cary

Just because nearly everyone clears some land does not mean it is necessary. You will tend to kill trees that are 5 feet from a foundation so most remove them. Nothing like having a dead 50 ft tree 5 feet from a house.

There is very little clearance actually required. But you need to get utilities in and if they are underground, that will require at least a strip of clearance on one side. You need land sloping away from house for drainage and that requires 5 feet for sure (but this maybe very regional).

You also have to think that building a house in 1977 was a bit different. The biggest thing that comes to mind is underground utilities.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:02AM
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sierraeast

Out here in "regulatoryfornia" trees must be 5' from any given point of the structure. You need to consider root systems of the various species of trees in your area and check in with your local building dept to check out regulations there if any. You could also check in with local aborists as well.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:00AM
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brickeyee

"But you need to get utilities in ..."

Run them up the driveway.

It could cost you driveway repairs if they utilities need work, but that should be a very long way off on new construction.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:01AM
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bus_driver

Trees and houses are not a good combination, technically speaking. I have seen oak roots large than my arm grown under the footings of houses. Not good.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:05AM
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sierraeast

"Trees and houses are not a good combination, technically speaking"

That's why it makes no sense to set a certain footage boundary as some species have invasive root systems that are spread out larger than the tree itself. It's simply a matter of common sense. 5' away isn't going to prevent a tree that has invasive root systems from causing damage. Like all aspects of building, always a safe bet to research. Check out existing tree types as well as what you plan on planting before digging.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:28AM
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brickeyee

"I have seen oak roots large than my arm grown under the footings of houses."

With only about 600 spices of oaks this is not all that useful a data point.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 12:51PM
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mrsmuggleton

Fire must not be a problem with trees that close to a house.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 5:28AM
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brickeyee

"Fire must not be a problem with trees that close to a house."

A lot of places are not dry enough to have much risk at all.

Large forest fires are not common on the east coast.
Most of the states have far more rain than the west & south.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:52AM
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david_cary

That being said, we (NC) had a few very large forest fires this year ... near the coast. And rainfall has not been a major problem this year (ie no drought).

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 3:06PM
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flgargoyle

It certainly is possible to build right up next to a tree. If I were of a mind to, I would build a house on piers to minimize the impact to the root system. Many trees, such as white oak and poplar are very sensitive to disturbed or compacted soil within the drip line of the tree. Even the weight of heavy equipment going too close to a tree can compact the soil enough to kill it- eventually. The bad part is that it can take several years for a large tree to die. By then, it's hard to assign blame, and it's also expensive and dangerous to remove a large tree very close to a house.

If you don't live in an area impacted by snow, ice, or wind, it might be nice, but that leaves out many areas. Typical frame house are easily crushed by a large tree. Personally, I don't like large trees close to the house for the above reasons. Once our new house is done, I'll plant smaller, slower growing trees closer to the house, but no closer than 20' or so.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 4:01PM
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booboo60

Having lived in a "little house in the woods on a river" for 15 years I agree with 'flgargoyle'. It looked so pretty when we bought the place and even after living there 5 years or so we took down some trees close to the house, but, there were lots more....the wind blew, the trees swayed, I freaked!!!
Never again...we sold in 2008 and moved across the state to retire and built a lovely home with NO trees close to the house! We planted a cute little maple out front and it is perfect!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:31PM
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