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
Several years ago, we were asked to assist a homeowners association (HOA) with their damaged retaining walls in Anaheim, California. Twelve properties in the HOA were being affected by the movement of a retaining wall that varied in height up to about 12 feet, which supported the backyards of their stunning view properties.
When you say you live in Anaheim, many people think you live near the happiest place on earth—Disneyland, which is relatively flat and much closer to the western side of the city. These HOA owners, however, were unhappy campers located in the newer eastern scenic foothill region of the city known for its planned suburban communities with parks, open space, schools and shopping. Many of the homes in the Anaheim Hills have views to the north of the Yorba Linda Hills and the snow-capped mountains beyond, which make them highly desirable and irresistible to buyers—especially young professionals and their growing families. 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
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
What happens when the fix for a problem creates another problem?
We were hired to investigate peeling drywall tape at a home in Hacienda Heights. A recent water loss occurred at this property and required a drying out process that used 6 dehumidifiers and 30 fans. The dehumidifiers and fans were running 24 hours a day for 29 days.
After the drying out process, the homeowner noticed that the drywall tape was peeling in their kitchen, living room, and two of the bedrooms.
The lesson from this project is pay close attention to what the repairs might involve; and try to anticipate possible side-effects to the repairs.
We were hired to investigate a property that had experienced tree root damage. Tree roots had cracked and lifted a concrete patio next to the house. The owners were concerned about possible damage to the structure.
The interior and exterior of the building showed minor foundation movement. However, no roots were discovered underneath the foundation of the building.
Hearing your property has a termite infestation can send chills down any property owner’s spine. The cost of ridding a property of termites can be out of budget for many folks. Dealing with them is also inconvenient because most cases involve fumigation to make sure that you’ve rid a structure of the whole colony. It’s no wonder that many opt to put off the problem. That’s especially easy to do because it’s a problem that is often occurring out of sight – making it easy to put it out of mind. Continue reading
2017 is right around the corner. It’s probably a good time to set some maintenance goals for the year. If you’re part of an HOA or own an apartment complex, there’s no better time than now to set some resolutions on what you’ll work toward fixing this upcoming year. Not sure what to start with? Check out some of our suggestions, below. Continue reading
During the Thanksgiving holiday the Southland got a little more relief from our record-breaking drought conditions. While it’s important that we get enough rain to hopefully end our dry conditions and restore our groundwater levels, it’s also important to keep people and properties safe during and after rainstorms.
Areas of particular concern are slope stability and water intrusion. When an area has been particularly dry, slope stability issues can threaten properties in and around the slope. Unstable slopes can move very slowly or very quickly, and lead to property foundation issues as well as safety hazards. This is especially true for burn areas where the plants and trees have been destroyed and the integrity of the soil has been undermined.
Standing water can ruin a property and pose serious issues to a community’s health. It can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitos, and can lead to structural issues for buildings on the property. There can also be issues for adjoining properties, which can in turn will draw the ire of neighbors and possibly result in increased litigation risks. If you’ve ever had a property that has issues with surface water drainage, then you know full well the damage and headache it can cause.