Southern Maryland Best Buys


The Birds, The Bees, The Woodpeckers and The Trees

What an interesting post! Check out the consequences of plants and insects! It becomes clear why home inspectors recommend these items be addressed once you read through this informative presentation. No wonder!

Shrubs against a house in ConnecticutThis is not a life lesson for a young person with raging hormones, though it may sound that way. This is about flora and fauna for the homeowner.

Most every homeowner is at least casually aware that any plants, whether trees, shrubs or other vegetation should be kept at a distance from the house. Plants against or over the house create what inspectors call conducive conditions. Trees above the house for example block out sun light and diminish wind which in turn slows the natural drying process. Damp conditions promote the growth of microscopic plants and fungi, which can result in a black and or furry roof.

Moss growing on a roof in Connecticut

Plants against or close to the house have the same effect, retaining moisture. Eventually water will do what water does best, exploit any weakness in the protection of the wood. Damp wood begins the decay process. Let go, rotting wood turns into a smorgasbord for numerous plants and animals.

There are many insects and animals that favor damp conditions and the shelter created by the plants near the house. Termites, carpenter ants and anobiid beetles thrive when conditions are moist as well as other creatures not necessarily on the inspector’s radar.

Even when wood is dry, there are bugs that will utilize it to their advantage, a good example is the carpenter bee which looks like a bumble pumped up on steroids. Like most bees, these little creatures are industrious, drilling neat little holes in the wood on a house. The hole is the nest where they lay eggs, which then hatch into larva. The larva is a favorite food of another flying creature, the woodpecker.

Woodpecker damaged siding on a Connecticut home

The small and neat holes then become ugly and enlarged by the woodpecker seeking out the bee larva. In addition to the carpenter bees, woodpeckers seek out other insects and their larva. A house riddled by woodpeckers is a good sign that moisture related issues exist. Then there is the deliberate placement of wood against the house by homeowners.

Thousands upon thousands of homes are landscaped with wood mulch. Personally I dislike it. The biggest problem I see with mulch is the new mulch is pile right on top of the old. Each application brings the soil and mulch closer to the house framing and siding, once again creating conducive conditions.

Wood mulch against wood cladding on a Connecticut property

It is rare to find a house with numerous forms of conducive conditions and their related consequences. The photos in this piece are from a single home. The damage and need for repair of the exterior was extensive and simply attributable to a lack of maintenance.

Nature will do to a home what nature does to everything left to fend for itself against the elements, wear it down and return it back to the earth.


James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Comment balloon 1 commentCheryl Ritchie • February 24 2012 02:19AM


Thanks for repostings as I missed this the first time

Posted by Scott Fogleman, New Home Team (New Home Team 804-573-9592) over 7 years ago