Case Study: How the Terms Mouse Trap and Fire Training End Up in the Same Sentence

Fire Mouse TrapA mouse trap is a common, albeit annoying, word in suburban households. To most people, we picture a small slab of wood, a piece of cheese, and the impending doom for a little furry critter. A mouse trap, regarding to fire training, is a whole new ball game.

Helfrich-Associates was called out to a job site in the Inland Empire: A Fire Training Center. This state of the art training center will be utilized by fire departments and students in the surrounding area with every square inch of this training center being built meticulously. There are buildings that are being constructed specifically to be put on fire, but most interestingly, and why Helfrich-Associates is here, is the Mouse Trap. 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

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

Preparing Your Property for Severe Weather and Its Aftermath

ThunderstormsDuring the Thanksgiving holiday the Southland got a little more relief from our record-breaking drought conditions. While it’s important that we get enough rain to hopefully end our dry conditions and restore our groundwater levels, it’s also important to keep people and properties safe during and after rainstorms.

Areas of particular concern are slope stability and water intrusion. When an area has been particularly dry, slope stability issues can threaten properties in and around the slope. Unstable slopes can move very slowly or very quickly, and lead to property foundation issues as well as safety hazards. This is especially true for burn areas where the plants and trees have been destroyed and the integrity of the soil has been undermined.

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6 Common Questions from Property Owners

Frequently Asked Questions KeyboardEver noticed something about your home, office or property and thought: “That doesn’t seem quite right …” Unfortunately, many property owners get spooked and think that easy-to-correct problems will be mandatory, costly or difficult to solve. If the problem is allowed to worsen, it can lead to bigger problems down the road and bigger headaches for the property owner. As an added problem, a diagnosis from the wrong party can also lead to unnecessary repairs if that person is not an engineering expert. The best course of action is to deal with problems right away by asking the right expert and asking the right questions.

Below you’ll find some common questions we get from our clients and their answers. 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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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

Raising Seawalls

Raising Sea WallsYou may have read our post on stabilizing seawalls a few months ago. But what about raising them?

As ocean levels begin to rise due to global warming, it will become more common to raise seawalls to help combat flooding during high tides.

Seawalls help prevent erosion of land area or damage to structures by placing a barrier between the sea and land. This helps prevent damage to structures from wind, wave and tidal forces. Typically, seawalls are curved or flat-facing, and can be built using gravity retaining walls, cantilever retaining walls, and pile-supported retaining walls. Seawalls are usually constructed of concrete, but in the past stone was used due to its durability. Stone is also used as rip-rap in front of seawalls to prevent or minimize scour as well as reducing wave energy. 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