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
Can a tennis ball really give you home-buying insight? Normally, when people are looking for properties to purchase, they worry about the roof or the walls or the plumbing or the appliances or the heating/ac system, but not many realize that inspecting the foundation is critical to the building’s structural integrity.
When the iconic 1960’s surf band the Beach Boys sang their hit song “Good Vibrations,” they definitely had romance on their minds and not earthquakes, slope movement, or landslides, etc. Falling in love and that unsteady feeling you get during an earthquake are different to be sure, but, they both can rock your world and leave you as Elvis would say, “All Shook Up!”
The ocean and canyon view
We were asked several years ago to consult on a “view” property in Malibu, California, that had been red-tagged (deemed unsafe for occupancy) due to earth movement and undermining of the house by a landslide that had occurred during the winter rains of 2004/2005. The client contacted us in May, 2015, after he purchased the property. Continue reading
One of our clients recently asked us to help them, decide how to build a basement below their house. Normally, a basement is built before the house is built so that the basement foundations can be used to support the house. In this case, the house was built in the 1920’s, and the owner wanted to add a basement and first floor addition to the property.
Tilted reinforced concrete foundation next to slope below building
In 2015, one of our property management clients purchased an apartment complex in Northern California that consisted of five, two-story buildings. One of the buildings in the complex (constructed in the early 1960’s) has had a long history of foundation problems, consisting of fill settlement and slope movement. This building movement had caused leaks in the below ground plumbing (water pipes and sewer pipes), which caused additional settlement and movement of the building.
Attempts to stabilize the building, and to lift it to approximately level, were made in the early 1980’s and in the mid-1990’s, approximately 15 years later. We were contacted about 20 years after the latest repairs because the building was again becoming seriously tilted and potentially unsafe (and certainly inconvenient) for occupancy. Continue reading
Tilted retaining wall
When purchasing a home, especially a resale home, be sure to walk around the outside of the entire property or you might be surprised at what you find after your purchase. The phrase, “buyer beware,” still applies when it comes to purchasing real estate.
This situation occurs more often than you would think when it comes to older or historic properties dating back 40 years or more when building codes and construction industry standards were less stringent than today.
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.