When it's time for a home inspection, it is important to remember that an evaluation extends past the walls of your house. Ignoring the outdoors could be a costly mistake down the road.

Be sure to examine the trees on your property closely. You may not have planted them or even maintained them while living in your home, but they need thorough inspection, just like everything else. Here is what to look for when inspecting trees in your yard: 

Start at the bottom

The first thing to examine when inspecting the trees outside your home is the roots. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, it is unlikely that tree roots will pierce the foundation of a house, no matter how long they are. However, they can do is create damage in other ways. Depending on the length, location and weight of the tree, the roots can cause major issues for a building.

The IACHI states that there are three main issues that roots can lead to. If there are preexisting structural errors, the roots can disrupt the foundation and enlarge cracks, potentially presenting major issues down the road, including flooding. But what is more likely is the extension of a large root system well beneath a house, causing the foundation to uplift. The third issue is when roots leech water from the soil under the house, which can cause the structure to sink unevenly.

Stay safe and protect your home

Tree branches, limbs, leaves and bark all require maintenance prior to an inspection. A common dilemma homeowners will face is if branches and limbs are hanging over power and telephone lines. These can be an especially dangerous issue to fix. 

According to Gardens Alive, it is best to observe a 10-foot rule, which states that nobody but trained professionals should work on any tree within 10 feet of an active electrical line. Adhere to this guideline so you don't accidentally cause damage to the tree, or more importantly, to yourself. Touching the wire can be dangerous, but so too can touching a branch that touches the wire.

Instead, the source recommends calling a local utility company and following their advice. If you see branches are approaching the lines, don't ignore the problem and be sure to contact an expert immediately. This is especially true for fast-growing trees, as they have the weakest branches and are most prone to breaking. Hoping the issue goes away could lead to power outages or other issues down to line.

The same type of expert guidance may be needed if leaves fall into gutters and drainage pipes. Cleaning these things out before a home inspection is a good idea to avoid leakage, but make sure you are following correct protocol. Some leaves can be hard to reach, so hiring a trained professional to clean the gutters may be wise, especially if you are not accustomed to going on the roof of your home.

Give the trees a final look

Before the home inspections begin, review the trees on your property one final time. Make sure to clear dead trees from the property as soon as possible, and examine the trees for other types of hazards, such as peeling bark, which can signal decay, or limbs that look like they may soon crack. The issues, like the roots, can often go undetected until it is too late to fix them, so it is wise to give them a close look. 

It may seem like the building inspection of your house is more important than trees, but that is not always the case. The time you spend reviewing trees will ensure they are in good condition and will not cause harm to your home or the people who live there.