Chartered Surveyor Sued £50,000 For Missing Japanese Knotweed
In a recent court case a qualified chartered surveyor was fined £50,000 because they missed the presence of knotweed which was present in the garden. But what is Japanese knotweed and how is it so dangerous to buildings.
Japanese Knotweed is harmless to humans and animals but because it grows vigorously and is capable of rapidly developing very large strands, these can cause damage to buildings. There are many stories of Japanese knotweed breaking through concrete, but this does not really happen. However it is capable of further aggravating structural issues within properties by growing through existing openings, cracks and structural defects in buildings, services, patios and walls.
It is not always easy to identify Japanese knotweed but the best time to spot it is during mid-summer to early autumn. During the spring, shoots are reddish/purple and appear from the ground asparagus-like ‘spears’ and rapidly lengthen from bright pink ‘crown’ buds. These can grow on average up to two centimeters a day, rapidly forming dense strands of bamboo like stems that develop green heart shaped leaves.
By early summer the mature stems are hollow with purple speckles which can be up to three metres in height. The leaves alternate along each side of the stem, producing an obvious knotweed zigzag pattern. The flowers that emerge by late summer are creamy and white in colour, appearing in lengthy cluster formations. Japanese knotweed spreads mainly from underground from its roots (rhizomes) which lie dormant over the winter months.
The rhizomes spread several metres outwards from the visible stems above ground, to depths of more than a metre. It is therefore very easy to accidentally fragment pieces of rhizome by disturbing the soil meters away, it is these fragments that help the Japanese knotweed to spread.
Should you discover knotweed growing in your garden or land, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid it rapidly spreading. Getting rid of it can be time consuming and costly, regularly by applying a herbicide treatment. However our advice is to save the time and stress by calling an expert company in to deal with the problem. This is particularly important if you are thinking of selling your property as a vendor will also have a duty of care if they are aware of the problem and do not disclose it.