Understanding Shoring for Building Repairs or Renovation

An example of shoring.Shoring is a critical technique for many building renovation projects. If you have an older property that needs repairs or renovation completed, you may need to include shoring in your plans. Shoring a building consists of temporarily supporting the structure while critically important portions of the building are removed and replaced.  These include critical elements include foundations, load-bearing walls, and the roof.  Shoring can also be used to prevent collapse of building elements that are failing, and can allow the building to be safely occupied during repair construction.

Three of the most common are lateral shoring, vertical shoring, and excavation shoring. Continue reading

Common Signs of Home Damage and Deterioration

A deteriorating homeDo you know the common signs of home damage and deterioration? It’s important to be aware of changes around your home or property that could be signs of deterioration. These signs could be sagging beams, discoloration on ceilings/walls, cracks in floors & foundations, rust on steel stairs, tipping of retaining walls or slope movement.

Let’s face it, home or property repairs are never fun. They’re costly and time consuming. Most of us want to get them done as quickly and economically as possible. Yet there’s one thing you should never exclude from your project — a consultation with an experienced construction engineer about the signs of home damage. Continue reading

When Does a Property Need a Floor Elevation Survey?

When Does a Property Need a Floor Elevation Survey?Is it time for a floor elevation survey? Have you noticed a lot of cracking of the foundation or patios on your property? It could be related to ground or soil movement. When the ground under a property shifts, it can  lead to cracked foundations, patio slabs and/or interior finishes such as drywall and tile. This can be especially true in places like Southern California where we have very adverse geology such as clays, loose sand and unstable hillsides. Add to this years of drought followed by an El Niño year, and ground movement is inevitable. Continue reading

Foundation and Structural Retrofits: Gentrifying Los Angeles

 

Gentrifying Los AngelesHave you noticed a gentrifying Los Angeles? Over the last decade or two much of Los Angeles’ downtown has been gentrified. Gentrifying, sometimes referred to as upscaling, can be defined as taking older properties and improving and renovating them so that they appeal to a broader range of potential renters or buyers. Gentrification can apply to many kinds of property. Often when a neighborhood begins to gentrify for residential use, commercial properties also upscale to meet the demand of the new tenant demographics. These projects are often use “outside the box” design to take full advantage of existing properties. Continue reading

Rain and Slope Stability

Rainy, wet roadsIn the last several weeks Southern California has received much needed rain, helping to alleviate the state’s drought conditions. It’s critically important to our ecosystem that we get enough rainfall each year. However, it can be devastating to property owners and to public areas, especially if a property is not properly prepared to handle large amounts of it. Areas of concern can range from water intrusion into buildings to unstable slopes becoming mud slides. Continue reading

Avoiding Surface Water Drainage Issues

Avoid Surface Water Drainage Issues with a Gutter SystemStanding water can ruin a property and pose serious issues to a community’s health. It can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitos, and can lead to structural issues for buildings on the property. There can also be issues for adjoining properties, which can in turn will draw the ire of neighbors and possibly result in increased litigation risks. If you’ve ever had a property that has issues with surface water drainage, then you know full well the damage and headache it can cause.

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5 Things To Know Before A Property Renovation

5 Things To Know Before A Property RemodelAs a former guest on the popular HGTV Series Flip or Flop, I had to deliver some unfortunate news to the very talented hosts of the show who rarely if ever have a flop on their hands.  This time the home that they had purchased to flip had an old fissured, crumbling concrete foundation that would require expensive replacement.  It was truly one of the worst foundations that I’d ever seen as an engineer.

The response to this episode was overwhelming with many of you asking me, “How do I avoid that kind of trouble?”  The simple answer to the question would be for me to say, “Buyer beware and know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.” Continue reading

Protect Yourself From Code Violations

avoid-code-violationsNothing can turn a good property investment into a nightmare faster than discovering serious code violations that require unplanned and expensive repairs.  The trouble usually starts with tenant complaints.   When tenant complaints are ignored or poorly managed with substandard repairs, these situations can quickly snowball into major code enforcement violations, fines, accidents, evacuations, loss of life, litigation and even criminal negligence.

The building codes are different in every town, city, county and state.  They are living, breathing documents that continue to change as new materials, products and construction techniques continue to evolve.  Other contributors to changes in building codes are more subtle, such as socially recognizing that people with special needs must have equitable access or the true consequences of natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes and earthquakes. Continue reading

Preparing Your Property for Seismic Retrofitting

Los Angeles Requires Seismic Retrofitting

Los Angeles, California now requires Seismic Retrofitting.

As Californians, many of us have been waiting for “the big one” for years.

In 2015 Los Angeles set the nation’s strictest earthquake regulations. 15,000 of the city’s buildings will need to be retrofitted so that they can withstand the shaking of severe earthquakes.

Seismic retrofitting involves the process of securing buildings that may not have been adequately anchored prior to current retrofitting standards.

Most of the retrofitting will need to be done to the city’s apartment-style structures.

Smaller and medium-sized complex owners may not have the capital to complete their projects, but the city is offering various programs to help fund the cost. Also, many contractors have banks behind them and can offer financing to help fund the retrofit process. Continue reading