My existing block contains a decrepit 70’s era house and many trees of various sizes, often poorly located very close to the house. These tree pose a number of problems for those who are considering a knockdown/rebuild (KDR).

** Due to a website crash at the start of 2022, this blog post was cut off at this point and all text was lost. I have rewritten the rest of this post in August 2022. I wish I knew then what I know now.**

If, like me, you live in a somewhat older part of town, go take a drive around your area at the completed KDR’s . Is there anything you notice about them? Hopefully you paid attention and notice that virtually all of them are denuded of every single tree on their block. As I would later find out, there is a rather expensive reason why.

As it turns out, having trees close to your potential new build  has the potential to cost you in a number of ways. First, there is the extra costs associated with gaining full access to your block. Extra time spent = more money you pay.

The second reason, as I would later find out, is that any trees nearby, possibly including trees on adjacent properties, may lead to a need to reinforce your concrete slab (or foundations) to protect against tree roots causing future cracks in your slab. There is a third reason too, but I will tell you about that at the end of the post.

So, before you break out your chainsaw and clear fell you’re entire block, you have to know that in many cases, you will need a council permit to remove trees. If you check on your council’s website, they are sure to have the information you need to make an informed decision.

As an example, I’ll provide a link to the information at my council, Maroondah:

Tree and native vegetation removal

If you look over the webpage carefully you will notice there are a number of exemptions which will allow you to remove certain trees with out a permit. These rules can change over time so I won’t print them and would encourage you to check the info on the link provided.

Swamp gum
This trunk of this large swamp gum was within 1.5m of the wall of the existing house and could therefore be removed. Check the website of your local council before removing yours.

In my own case, I had a number of trees which were of a species which were exempt from the tree controls. One example was Pittosporum undulatum. This tree negatively impacts native vegetation and at the time of writing, was still allowed to come down

Others on my block were except from permit requirement for other reasons, such as the trunk of the tree being close to the wall of the existing house. If you were to demolish your old house and then remove these trees, you will need a permit because the exemption only applies if the trunk is within 3m of an existing house (At the time of writing).

When all was said and done there were two trees left on my block. Both were in the back corner of the property and both were gum trees. One of these is a 25m behemoth, spotted gum, and I love it. This particular tree is an absolutely gorgeous specimen, but do you remember earlier when I told you about the third reason other KDR owners remove all trees?

That third reason is – if the tree ever falls down, because of it’s size, it could demolish my entire home if it were to fall on it. Building a new home is something I am hoping to do only once in my lifetime. Let’s hope it works out that way.

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