June Maintenance: Drainage Assessments

Hint: Water Always Flows Downhill …

Assessing drainage conditions around properties and how to improve them are both simple and at times complicated. Simple because everyone knows that water flows downhill; so you start out knowing generally what direction it is likely to go. Far more complicated, however, are designing commercial or residential property lot drainage systems based on technical analyses of how much water flow to expect, where it will go and what needs to be done to prevent damage. At Helfrich Associates, we are most often called in when drainage conditions have been long neglected and/or when there is real damage to property and structures. In Southern California with our abundant sunshine, it is tempting to put off addressing drainage problems until after our relatively short, but sometimes intense rainy season. Those fast-moving thunderstorms in August or that first gentle rain in the fall disappears and then nothing happens until January or February when the bulk of our seasonal rain arrives (sometimes in buckets). Continue reading

Double Trouble: Termites & Water

Dark staining means that the roof sheathing has been wet in the past from leaks. In this case, the insulation covers the evidence of the roof leak.

You may not think about it much, seeing as how it’s over your head most of the time, but the roof is an important part of every building.  The roof provides shelter from the sun, from hot and cold temperatures, and from water leaks.  A roof also provides large interior spaces for warehouses and other large buildings with walls and columns.  Roof structures also support important building safety systems such as interior lighting, utilities, fire-proofing assemblies, insulation, roof-mounted air-handling equipment, and fire-suppression systems.   

When things get tough it’s easy to start down the path of deferred maintenance (that’s putting off fixing that leaky roof until you “have more” money to fix it) but it’s important to make sure that your building’s roof is properly maintained – otherwise you could be looking at more costly repairs than if you’d fixed it sooner.

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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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Working Under Cover, On the Sly, Going Rogue . .

Are there problems when you do construction work before you get a permit?  The answer is always, “Yes!”  Sooner or later it will catch up with you.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

In December 2017, we were asked to help a property owner get a grading permit from the County of San Bernardino for a partially graded hillside property.  This scenic property had a great mountain view. Because the property was located within an earthquake fault zone, we performed a fault study and determined that the site could not be developed with a residential structure. Continue reading