You may or may not have seen the following story depending on whether you follow the ITV News account on social media, but they reported earlier on Tuesday about an amazing story in which a family had escaped disaster in which a 50-foot ash tree came crashing down on to their conservatory.

According to ITV:

A Plymouth family have escaped unscathed after a tree crashed into their conservatory.

The family-of-four had moved indoors moments before the 50-foot ash tree fell onto the very spot where they had been sitting.

It really is as bad as it sounds. As you can see from the featured image, taken from the ITV website, the tree completely destroyed the structure. And when you look at the damage, it is clear that if the family was in the conservatory at the time, the very worst scenario could have been a distinct possibility.

Click here to read the full report and view more shocking images

The conservatory had a polycarbonate roof, judging by the images taken. However this isn’t to blame for the destruction. If that tree had fallen towards the house it would have brought the house down. No solid or glass roof would have kept that tree from demolishing that conservatory.

But this very unfortunate incident has got me wondering about an issue that perhaps has been thought about very little: surrounding foliage.

Should trees be considered when building a conservatory?

The idea might sounds a bit daft and extreme at first. Especially when there is already a ton of red tape to get around when building a glazed extension in the first place. But take a minute to think about it.

You’re on site, in a nice leafy area. The client has a nice back garden, slightly above average amounts of space, surrounded by big picturesque trees. An idyllic setting for one of your fantastic glazed extensions. But it’s also been wet, very wet. It’s rained and snowed all winter. The trees are 50-60 feet tall, not been checked out for years and you don’t know the conditions of the roots and the general health of the trees. In theory, there is a remote possibility that the trees could be a big problem.

I bet no one has thought about it like that before. But after reading this story, should companies be checking for possible scenarios like this? Obviously not every home has big trees surrounding so it won’t be something to think about.

The idea of more checks and what-ifs will inspire no one. But should we be thinking more outside of the box when it comes to the safety of our customers? I know there will be plenty of opinions on this one, so as always, all your comments are welcome in the section below.

Update 10:54am Thursday 12th Feb:

Mark Hanson from Ultraframe:

A good conservatory surveyor should take account of trees and roots. A willow tree can influence the foundations from 40m away, drawing water out of the sub soil and leading to movement. This can be a big issue in areas like the South East, where clay is the main soil type.

There is a good system out there to use when you have trees close to the base and it uses locally driven helical piles capped by a grout filled box ringbeam onto which everything else is based. The company who does this is called Quickbase – they can arrange the work or you can become an installer yourself.


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