The Inspector Who™ Saved Thousands on an Unnecessary New Roof

Yesterday high winds whipped through central New Jersey, screaming past quiet, tree-lined, residential streets, gusting to more than 50 miles an hour. The national weather service is still looking into whether these winds were actually a hurricane, but residents of one wooded area really don’t care about the classification of the storm, they are concerned with the clean up necessary after the devastation.

In Hunterdon, a large tree fell, ripping open the roof of a home, while residents were inside sleeping. The woman sleeping in the upstairs bedroom awoke to the sound of an enormous crash, and opened her eyes to falling plaster everywhere. She was lucky to be unharmed, and the damage to her home was substantial.

Meanwhile on a similar tree-lined street, another family awoke to the same high winds, safer and better prepared because of the home inspector who noticed something strange in trees on the property and recommended the opinion of a landscaping professional. The landscaper recommended taking down a 100 year old tree that was just a little too close to the home. Home inspectors check trees for evidence of the tree dying, being diseased, or having structural failure, and call in experts for their professional opinions. They also assess possible damage to structures if the tree falls, ramifications of construction and renovations around tree root structures, the possibility of storm damage, liability and tree maintenance issues, and whether the tree has been topped because this sometimes weakens the tree. In all cases expert landscaper opinions are solicited.

According to insurance company property and casualty claim data shows that the industry spends billions of dollars each year on fallen tree damage. Not only that, but claims involving tree damage have sharply risen over the last ten years due to increasingly violent storms, more trees being planted close to homes, and the trend to preserve large trees during construction. As a result of this, many homeowners have filed for enhanced landscape policies with coverage levels of $100,000 or more per tree. More home inspectors as they make recommendations should recognize this trend, and should protect themselves by purchasing errors and omissions insurance.