How Can I Repair My Building and Property To Code?

Code Compliance On Old Home Construction

Code compliance differs between old and new construction and repairs.

If you’ve ever been to Redlands, California, you may have seen its many historic buildings. There are dozens of Victorian-style residences and Craftsman era homes that date back more than 100 years.

I was recently talking with an acquaintance here in town that owns (and was looking to sell) an older home from the late 1800’s. He was telling me all about some of the renovations that he thought were necessary in order to bring the home up to code and make it habitable as a residence. There was a lot of work that needed to be done – ranging from replacing old electrical and plumbing work to repairing some damage to the structure that was a result of age and unstable land.

At one point, I was asked what I thought should be done about the structural issues due to the unstable land beneath the home? He was very concerned about what the city’s building department might require to repair the structure in order to sell it.  Since Helfrich-Associates has performed many investigations of structures that were built on unstable property, I knew he was probably dealing with issues that could range anywhere from minor cracks in the floors, walls, and ceilings, to difficulty operating doors and windows, to significant and serious foundation movement. If not repaired, these issues could discount the property value. Continue reading

What To Do When Tree Roots Threaten Your Property

Concrete cracking due to tree roots.

Concrete cracking due to tree roots.

If you’ve ever bought an older property with trees on it, you may have run into problems with tree roots. Often you’ll find that tree roots can damage both your foundation and your plumbing.

If there’s a problem with your tree’s roots invading your plumbing, its usually an easy fix involving scraping the pipe lines and then flushing some chemicals down the toilets to keep the roots at bay.

If you have a problem with tree roots disrupting your foundation it can be a little more difficult to deal with.

One of our projects in San Marino, California dealt with tree roots from two trees that had grown under the house. Continue reading

How Do I Know If My Stairs Are Too Rusty To Be Safe?

Unsafe, Rusty Stairs

When you’re a kid, some things – like stairs and heights, can be really scary. As an adult, perhaps not so much. Yet there are few things scarier than stairs that have not been properly maintained and are on the verge of collapse.

We recently had a project in Central California’s Salinas Valley that involved rusted stairs. These stairs led up to the second story of a large apartment complex.

The stairs were very wobbly, and possibly close to collapse, which was of major concern. A collapse would almost certainly cause serious injury to any tenants that were on or near them. A collapse could also affect access to the upper floors of the building. Continue reading

Why You Should Speak To A Structural Engineer Before Buying A Property

Home Inspections With A Structural Engineer

Start with a Structural Engineer to evaluate a property before you buy. It could save you money in the long run. Image courtesy pixabay.com

Whether you’re buying a property as an investment opportunity or as a property you plan to use as a home or place of business, there’s always a lot to consider.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Check comparable property values
  • Make sure you look at the crime statistics.
  • Check on the quality of the schools in the area. This can tell you a lot about the neighborhood.
  • Find out about any HOA dues, taxes and insurance costs.
  • Talk to the sellers about their experience with the property.
  • Schedule an inspection.

When you schedule the inspection, make sure you contact a specialist to look over each major part of the property. It’s a good idea to hire an electrician to check out the wiring, a plumber to review the pipes, and a structural engineer to look for any structural issues. Continue reading

Solving Foundation Stabilization Problems from Start to Finish

water tower with foundation stabilization issues

As a property owner, an issue with your foundation stabilization can be an expensive process, and the process of correcting the issues can often be frustrating and disruptive.

When one door closes, another one opens – unless of course your property is suffering foundation issues, in which case getting those doors to behave might be harder than it should be.

As a property owner, an issue with your foundation can be an expensive process, and the process of correcting the issues can often be frustrating and disruptive. You’re going to need professional help to make sure it’s done right the first time.

Evaluating a property and getting a business or residence repaired, safe and usable is our specialty. Our team has successfully completed over 200 foundation repair projects – giving us the experience and the know-how for getting property owners back into their buildings with fewer headaches.

The team at Helfrich-Associates, a one-stop shop that handles all aspects of soils engineering, geology, and structural engineering services, can help. We’re a premier engineering and construction consulting firm in Southern California and throughout the Southwest United States.

First, let’s talk about what causes foundation problems. Continue reading

Weather Watch: El Niño And Slope Stability

Weather Watch: El Niño And Slope Stability

Hurricane image courtesy pixabay.com

As we get closer to California’s rainy season, which is usually between November and March, meteorologists are warning of a record-breaking El Niño. El Niño is a warm weather pattern that can cause heavy rain in the Pacific Ocean and surrounding land masses, such as the Pacific Rim countries, including portions of the Western United States.

Over the last six months, California has experienced several major rainstorms. While this has been great for our rain-deprived residents, it’s wreaked havoc on the parched landscape created by the state’s record drought.  In fact, the drought has caused the soils to dry out, leading to surface cracks that will fill with rainwater. Continue reading

Keeping Up With HOA Maintenance

HOA Maintenance

HOA Maintenance Image Courtesy Pixabay.com

When you live in a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), you get some great perks, such as an HOA maintenance team. Some associations also boast parks and pools, full-service yard care. The maintenance teams usually keep those facilities in great condition. If you’re not familiar with how these associations can afford offer these benefits, they typically collect a monthly fee from all residents within the association. Usually agreement to pay these fees is a prerequisite to purchasing a home within the association’s communities.

HOA’s often include homes or condominiums in their communities. We’ve recently been working with condo-based associations that are having difficulties with keeping up their HOA maintenance programs. Continue reading

Case Study: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley Marina

Case Study: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley.

This week we’ll be covering our latest case study. In early 2011 Helfrich-Associates was asked to examine a hotel in the city of Berkeley and evaluate the structural integrity of a portion of the hotel.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley Marina is located less than 5 miles from Emeryville and only 20 minutes from Oakland International Airport. The hotel is situated on Berkeley Marina.

The hotel, built in the 1970s, had a building that was suffering from titling due to uneven soil conditions. The building in question, number three (3), was built on a 12-inch thick, reinforced mat foundation that was not sufficient to deal with the settling of soft soils. As a result the building had tilted more than 20 inches. Continue reading

Landslide Mitigation: Overcoming the Risk

Landslide mitigation can help in areas prone to landslides, such as in Malibu, California. Image Courtesy Pixabay.com

Landslide mitigation can help in areas prone to landslides, such as in Malibu, California. Image Courtesy Pixabay.com

The city of Malibu is one of California’s most beautiful coastal destinations. Located along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, the area is framed by the Pacific Ocean as well as the Santa Monica Mountains.

While coastal zones and properties are highly desirable, they can be difficult to build on. In part, this is due to erosion, rainfall, soil composition, and poor grading. Malibu has steep, clay slopes that are prone to landslides. Continue reading

Rainfall – The Good and the Bad

Rainfall image courtesy pixabay.com

Rainfall image courtesy pixabay.com

In 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