Roots can be a problem. As trees grow their roots grow too. An arborist once told me that a tree's mass below can be twice as large as what you see above ground. As roots grow they can do damage.
This tree was planted to frame off a drive way.
It was planted probably 40 years ago, when this house was first built. It may be older and was saved.
This driveway has been recovered twice since it was built. The street and curb have been replaced at least once.
The driveway and curb are damaged again.
Not doing justice, this photo does not show how high this bump in the driveway is, but it is about 10". And the crack extends all the way across the driveway in two places.
On new construction I often see trees planted way too close to the house.
A tree that is placed too close to the house will soon become a problem.
They are small and cute when planted. But trees have a way of growing and they grow quickly!
Often I will see a cherry blossom within 2' of the corner of the house! C'mon!
Now, I live in Washington DC and know just how big a cherry blossom tree can become!
Look at the damage a nearby tree can do to a house! And in not much time!
Growing up we had a tree root come up through the floor drain into the laundry room! That was a shock and it was not easy to remove! And THAT tree wasn't close to the house. But they can do special damage to plumbing drains.
More common is the damage done to structures - above and below ground. Walls can be pushed in. Windows damaged. Roofs moved out of place. Foundations can be bulged inward and slabs actually lifted up!
Trees with aggressive root systems - maples, cherries, weeping willow, poplars, cottonwoods, aspens and elms - the so called "heavy feeders," will do damage. Keep them 30' or more away from the house. But remember, they will also do damage to sidewalks, curbs, streets and driveways too. So pay attention when planting!
My recommendation: When you buy a tree at the garden center ask about its recommended placement relative to the above. Ask how aggressive the root systems will become. And if you buy a house with plantings too close to anything, plan on having them moved elsewhere in the yard or removed completely.