Fires, Floods and Slides: What You Can Do  

Treehouse and TentThe good news is that your treasured Southern California family mountain get-away cabin or beautiful second home in the forest survived a wild fire last year.  The question is what will happen this summer when thunderstorms strike or when normal rainfall resumes after our La Nina drought cycle ends?  Is your home also safe from potential mud slides and flooding?  What can you do about it?

The fire cycle in our mountains changes everything, especially for home owners.  While your home itself didn’t burn, did your property’s slopes burn?  What about nearby hillsides and the canyons higher up? Did they burn or are the trees, shrubs and other plants still in place and growing green in the drought?  How did the neighboring properties surrounding your home do?  Did they burn or are they all intact? Continue reading

Emergency Roof Repair: From “Oh No” . . . To “Ho, Ho, Ho!” 

If there’s any good news when you’re facing an unexpected roof repair, we’re coming into the best time of year to make roof repairs.  A beautiful new roof or a well-maintained or repaired roof not only keeps you warm and dry, it adds value to any home. There are several reasons why late spring to early summer is the best time of year to complete a roofing project

First, the likelihood of rain starts to diminish in May and June in Southern California and the rest of the West as we head into June and July.  So, now is the time to get started whether you need minor patching or when bigger areas need replacement or if you need a whole new roof for that vacation, fixer or rental property. Continue reading

Spring Is Sprung:  Will Your HVAC Survive Summer? 

Who doesn’t love Spring in Southern California? Early March cool turns warmer and brings colorful bulbs to bloom, tea in a rose garden, a winery tasting before lunch, family get-togethers, and so on. The beauty of nature at this time of year is enough to distract anyone, but don’t forget about your Spring Cleaning.  Be sure your list includes looking at your Helfrich Associates annual home maintenance calendar. Continue reading

A Drainage Dilemma In Lemon Grove: It All Flows Downhill

As we’re entering the month of March in Southern California, the heavy rainy season of winter is typically coming to an end. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any more rain, but the possibility of rain is tapering off. Spring will be here before you know it on March 22 with its longer days. It will soon be time to inspect our home drainage systems and make any needed repairs so we can check off this task as done on our maintenance calendars. Water generally flows downhill eventually and it’s best to make sure your drainage system is in good working order to protect your home. Continue reading

Five Tips For A Better Home Office

 If you work at home and don’t have a comfortable home office or have one that’s not ideal, now is the time to convert a rarely used space (formal living and dining rooms), remodel a bedroom, or add a new addition. Costs are rising: labor, materials, equipment, furnishings, etc. Materials delivery is lagging too, but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll finish and possibly with a lower price tag. Financing is still at a relatively low rate, but interest rates are expected to rise by mid-year or sooner.

After a year-plus of being asked to work at home temporarily, you’re probably like many of us beginning to wonder if this might be the new normal.  Some companies are also beginning to reconsider how much physical office space “togetherness” is really necessary to meet their business objectives.  Those sprawling corporate campuses and skyscrapers are expensive. Many office employees also prefer some mix of home and company office time. Continue reading

Love Your Trees, But Keep Them Away … Please!

In hot, dry, crowded Southern California, many people are attracted by those resort style or park-like homes set on ocean-view or urban forest lots.  They tug at every nature lover’s heart.  You fall in love with statuesque Palms or the sculpted limbs of old California Oaks or evergreen Cedars or stately Sycamores or fragrant Eucalyptus surrounded by beautiful lawns and beds full of shrubs and flowers.

I love trees too.  Trees provide shade and are awesome to look at.  There is, however a big downside to trees placed too closely to homes. They look great when you buy the home or when you plant those stick-like saplings.  Years later, unfortunately, we are often asked by property owners and insurance companies to evaluate the structural damage after large trees fall or invasive tree roots cause harm. Continue reading

Building Permits and Professional Relationships

Most of the projects that we are involved in require permits from the local Building Departments.  Although many cities have their own building departments, some cities rely on the County to review and process permits.  Other cities contract out the plan review process to specialty engineering and construction consulting firms.  Having a professional engineering submit your plans for approval is often helpful.

No matter who is in charge, having a professional engineering firm present your permit request and when necessary answering questions about your building plans can be extremely helpful.  More often than not, the person who will review and approve your building plan is also a professional engineer.  Based on our experience, we know what questions to expect and how to answer them for first-time right success in securing your building permit.  We won’t let you attempt to build something that we know will be problematic from the start and delay your project. Continue reading

Maintenance Series: Keep Your Cool All Summer

Now is a great time to perform the semi-annual maintenance of your HVAC system to make sure that your system is ready for the upcoming summer months.  I recommend that you obtain a contract with an HVAC specialist for this maintenance, which is generally done in March/April (to prepare for the summer months) and then again inAugust/September (to prepare for the winter months).  Take care of your HVAC and it will take care of you when you need it most. Continue reading

COVID in Retrospect: Positive Changes Come To Construction Industry

The past year has been a remarkably interesting one for sure. In March 2020, when we were informed of the COVID quarantine, our initial question was, “How is the construction industry supposed to deal with this situation?” We soon found out, to our great relief, that construction was considered an essential service, and that the operation of our business would not be affected. Unless, of course, our clients decided to stop their projects.

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2021 Property Maintenance Checklist:

The Top Ten Annual Must-Do Items

If your home, your wallet and peace-of-mind are important priorities, then the beginning of each year comes with a new opportunity that’s too good to pass up.  You can save yourself all kinds of unpleasant surprises, unexpected bills and headaches by committing to the annual scheduling of the top twelve most important home inspections and maintenance tasks.

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