Existing Narrow Driveway and Wall
What do you do when the retaining wall along the driveway entrance to your coastal home’s garage is too narrow for your cars? After experiencing constant, annoying collision sensor beeping on your newer vehicle or a scrape on your classic car, you begin to think that something has to be done.
In Southern California’s scenic beach areas, the land is very expensive and this often leads to compromises in home design that sometimes later prove to be impractical. A popular solution is to go skinny and vertical—building two- or three-story homes on narrow lots with the garage at street level. The stunning upper story or roof-top ocean views are a welcome incentive to climb the stairs. Continue reading
Patched pool shell & cracks.
We were recently hired to evaluate a beautiful pool and patio that were built near a hillside in the popular community of Diamond Bar, California. Unfortunately, the pool has experienced soil movement, causing cracking and tilting of the pool and patio that led the concerned homeowner to call us before the damage became any worse.
This unfortunate situation is an all too common occurrence in hillside residential developments across Southern California, where the earth is prone to continuous movement, earthquakes and periodic heavy seasonal rainfall. One or all of these factors can contribute to the destabilization of slopes where homeowners often buy properties with spectacular vistas of natural scenery, sunsets, wildlife and more. The problems then begin after the outdoor amenities such as patios, pools and spas are built, the contractor has been paid, the first family celebration and then months or years later the problems show up. Continue reading
Photo Source: Randy Jibson, USGS
What do you do when you own a vacant lot with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California? You build a vacation home, of course, but there’s always a complication or two with coastal properties and sometimes it pays to call in an expert at the start of the process.
Helfrich-Associates is blessed to be in the construction field because building and construction are essential industries. Over the past two months, we have continued to respond to our client’s needs, while following the social distancing restrictions of the COVID19 Quarantine and embracing some new technologies. Continue reading
We were asked to perform a geotechnical investigation at a property in Temecula, CA, to assess damage and prepare repair recommendations for a pool, retaining wall and patio system. Damage was caused by settlement of improperly compacted fill dirt and the movement of slope soils. Cracks and separations in the retaining walls up to about 1.5-inches wide were visible. Continue reading
Wooden apartment balconies will require periodic inspections in California by 2025.
If you’re an owner or investor in an apartment building or an officer in a home owners association, which at the time of sale met all the building code requirements with all the paperwork in order, you might think that’s the end of the story.
Think again because, unfortunately, building and civil codes in California and elsewhere have a way of evolving and changing over time, which frequently requires new inspections and property maintenance.
A case in point: We were recently asked to evaluate an HOA community’s buildings and see if they were affected by California SB 721 and/or Civil Code Section 5551.
KEY PROVISIONS OF SENATE BILL 721
The bill (approved by the Governor on September 17, 2018) requires an inspection of “exterior elevated elements and associated waterproofing elements… including decks and balconies for buildings with three or more multi-family dwellings…” These inspections are to be performed, by a licensed engineer or architect, by a qualified building contractor, or by a qualified building inspector, before January 1, 2025.
The bill applies to apartment buildings, but not to hotels/motels and “common interest developments” such as HOA’s. The bill, however, authorizes a local governing entity to enact stricter requirements, and some will do so before the SB721 deadline.
Exterior elevated elements that are subject to this requirement include those building elements that are supported (in whole or substantial part) by wood members, are more than 6-feet above the ground surface, are outside the building envelope, and are designed for human occupancy or use. Continue reading
Example of exterior wall cracking.
At Helfrich-Associates, we know how important it is to do your research when starting a new project. We were asked to investigate a property located in Los Angeles. The house we visited was originally constructed in 1937 and alterations were performed in 1957 and 2010-2011. Continue reading
We were hired to evaluate the interior ceiling cracks in a home in Fullerton. CA. A contractor performed measured floor elevations to see if there was any foundation or slab movement and their measurements showed that the slab had not moved. So, foundation settlement was ruled out.
During our site inspection it was noted that the eaves were between 5 and 6 feet wide. A normal eave is between 2 and 3 feet wide. It was also noted that stucco had been added to be bottom of the eaves which made them heavier than normal eaves.
We want to reach out to our clients and let you know that Helfrich-Associates is keeping a close watch on the current COVID19 situation. We are part of the construction industry and believe we are, therefore, exempt from the stay at home recommendations that are currently in effect in California.
However, we are taking all necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our clients safe during this time. We are practicing social/physical distance in our interactions with clients and co-workers. When we meet with you we will keep a 6 foot distance which ensures no physical touch. We are carrying hand sanitizers with us for further protection.
We are available for site inspections and field work so your project will not be delayed.
Our business is set up with Consultants working out of their homes. We are all connected online so plan and report preparation will not be interrupted.
We are here to serve you during this time and want you to feel comfortable that we are taking all necessary precautions to protect everyone’s health.
What do you do when the tree you love is causing damage to your building?
On one of our recent projects, we visited an apartment building complex where one unit had visible damage caused by tree roots. The adjacent unit had no damage.
However, upon further examination we discovered damage to the sidewalks, and it became obvious that tree roots are growing underneath the foundations. We observed a 23-feet-section of the exterior wall that has been lifted several inches. Continue reading