When a property owner decides they want to repair or add on to a home or other type of structure, they often have an engineering firm design the project and then hire a construction firm to build it. All too often, however, the engineering firm fails to create a practical design that will be easy for the construction team to build. That’s where “constructability” comes into play.
Constructability is a technique in which construction processes are reviewed from start to finish during the initial engineering design phase. It all boils down to understanding and coordinating the construction process during the design and planning phases. This technique prevents problems in construction by identifying problems before the project begins construction. Don’t be surprised when your design firm wants to know early on who will build the project. As design engineers, we know the best construction firms for your particular project and want to be confident that our clients are choosing a responsible construction firm—not necessarily the lowest bidder, although competence and economy are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Continue reading
Los Angeles, California now requires Seismic Retrofitting.
As Californians, many of us have been waiting for “the big one” for years.
In 2015 Los Angeles set the nation’s strictest earthquake regulations. 15,000 of the city’s buildings will need to be retrofitted so that they can withstand the shaking of severe earthquakes.
Seismic retrofitting involves the process of securing buildings that may not have been adequately anchored prior to current retrofitting standards.
Most of the retrofitting will need to be done to the city’s apartment-style structures.
Smaller and medium-sized complex owners may not have the capital to complete their projects, but the city is offering various programs to help fund the cost. Also, many contractors have banks behind them and can offer financing to help fund the retrofit process. Continue reading
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
Recently we were called out to a client who’d just installed new windows in their home because some of the new windows, nine in fact, had cracked. The cracking was a bit of a mystery, as there had been no impact to the window itself prior to the crack appearing.
So, what happened? In this case, thermal stress cracking is the likely culprit.
Thermal stress can happen when one part of a window’s temperature differs from another part. This can happen as the sun moves through the sky and heats different portions of the glass, especially if the glass is partially covered by eaves or awnings. Continue reading
As a property owner, an issue with your foundation stabilization can be an expensive process, and the process of correcting the issues can often be frustrating and disruptive.
When one door closes, another one opens – unless of course your property is suffering foundation issues, in which case getting those doors to behave might be harder than it should be.
As a property owner, an issue with your foundation can be an expensive process, and the process of correcting the issues can often be frustrating and disruptive. You’re going to need professional help to make sure it’s done right the first time.
Evaluating a property and getting a business or residence repaired, safe and usable is our specialty. Our team has successfully completed over 200 foundation repair projects – giving us the experience and the know-how for getting property owners back into their buildings with fewer headaches.
The team at Helfrich-Associates, a one-stop shop that handles all aspects of soils engineering, geology, and structural engineering services, can help. We’re a premier engineering and construction consulting firm in Southern California and throughout the Southwest United States.
First, let’s talk about what causes foundation problems. Continue reading
Aftermath of a roof collapse – image courtesy of pixabay.com
A roof collapse can be sudden, dangerous, and devastating. Often, excessive loads can be the cause of a collapse. These loads can be weather related, involving things such as heavy snow or pooling rainwater. Another cause may be improper roof repair, such as failure to remove shingles or tiles when re-roofing or repairing leaks.
Roofs are typically designed to support their own weight (consisting of framing members, sheathing, and roofing materials), plus the weight of expected live loads. Live loads consist of people who might need to walk on the roof to service equipment or to perform roof repairs, and the estimated weight of ponded rain (if the roofs are flat), and accumulated snow (if the building is in a snow area). Each of these conditions must be considered in the design of the supporting members. One problem that is particular to flat roofs is the deformation of roofing support members that can cause water to pond on the roof. Once the water begins to pond, the framing members deflect more, which leads to more ponding, which leads to more deformation. An unstable condition is created in these roofs that can eventually lead to collapse of the roof. Continue reading
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley.
This week we’ll be covering our latest case study. In early 2011 Helfrich-Associates was asked to examine a hotel in the city of Berkeley and evaluate the structural integrity of a portion of the hotel.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley Marina is located less than 5 miles from Emeryville and only 20 minutes from Oakland International Airport. The hotel is situated on Berkeley Marina.
The hotel, built in the 1970s, had a building that was suffering from titling due to uneven soil conditions. The building in question, number three (3), was built on a 12-inch thick, reinforced mat foundation that was not sufficient to deal with the settling of soft soils. As a result the building had tilted more than 20 inches. Continue reading
Landslide mitigation can help in areas prone to landslides, such as in Malibu, California. Image Courtesy Pixabay.com
The city of Malibu is one of California’s most beautiful coastal destinations. Located along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, the area is framed by the Pacific Ocean as well as the Santa Monica Mountains.
While coastal zones and properties are highly desirable, they can be difficult to build on. In part, this is due to erosion, rainfall, soil composition, and poor grading. Malibu has steep, clay slopes that are prone to landslides. Continue reading
As seen at World of Concrete 2015. A unique sample of a concrete wall.
Did you make it to this year’s World of Concrete? The World of Concrete event is the third largest convention in Las Vegas, after NASCAR and the Bull Riders Association, with more than 50,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors. At this year’s World of Concrete there were two outdoor exhibit areas with heavy construction equipment (including test drives for novices), concrete demolition demonstrations, concrete slab finishing, and concrete sculptures and artwork. Continue reading
California’s economy is still recovering from the recession. Image Courtesy Pixabay.com
Leta and I recently attended the 2015 U.S. and Inland Empire Economic Forecast. Dr. Esmael Adibi, a renowned economist and advisor to California leaders, presented his annual forecast for the state’s economy. The event was sponsored by many groups and companies active in the construction industry, including homebuilders, engineering firms, and construction products manufacturers.
This was a great event that provided some clear insight on what’s in store for 2015 when it comes to California’s economy and its growth as it pertains to our industry. Continue reading