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

How to Deal With Rising Sea Levels on Your Coastal Property

Coastal ErosionProtecting properties on coastal parcels is critical, especially as we start to see much of our nation’s coastal areas affected by rising sea levels. Higher sea levels are allowing the tides to carry away much of the natural defenses and sands that keep properties and beaches protected from the oceans, especially during heavy coastal storms. In fact, some coastal communities are running out of beach sand due to global warming.

What can coastal property owners do to protect themselves? The answer is installing or improving existing seawalls. A bulkhead, also known as a seawall, helps prevent erosion of land area or damage to structures by placing a barrier between the sea and land. Seawalls protect properties and beaches against damage from wind, wave and ice forces. They may feature curved or flat-facing surfaces, and can be comprised of gravity retaining walls, cantilever retaining walls, and pile-supported retaining walls. New seawalls are commonly constructed of concrete, but older seawalls included materials like stone, an excellent buffer against wave energy. 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

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

Dealing with Damage Due to Wind

Dealing With Damage Due To Wind

Damage due to wind can be extensive. Image courtesy pixabay.com

If you’ve ever been in a windstorm, you know that wind is a powerful force of nature and damage due to wind can be extensive. There are several types of wind events. One type of event, called a Microburst, is a downward burst of air from the base of a thunderstorm. Traveling toward the ground at nearly 60 miles per hour, they can increase speed to nearly 100 miles per hour when they hit the ground – causing extensive damage to buildings and trees.

Microbursts are usually formed when dry air combines with rain within a cloud formation. When the dry air causes the rain to evaporate, the temperature of the air lowers. The cooler air will drop down through the cloud formation, gaining speed as it moves toward the ground. If it falls through an area with a large and steady change in temperature, the cooler air will fall faster as the air around it becomes warmer and less dense near the ground. When the air mass reaches the surface, it travels in all directions at high speeds. Continue reading