Property Inspections—Keep Your Eye on the Ball

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.

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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

Red Tag Alert: View for Days Comes With a Price

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

How COVID-19 Affects Our Service

We want to reach out to our clients and let you know that Helfrich-Associates is keeping a close watch on the current COVID19 situation. We are part of the construction industry and believe we are, therefore, exempt from the stay at home recommendations that are currently in effect in California.
However, we are taking all necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our clients safe during this time. We are practicing social/physical distance in our interactions with clients and co-workers. When we meet with you we will keep a 6 foot distance which ensures no physical touch. We are carrying hand sanitizers with us for further protection.
We are available for site inspections and field work so your project will not be delayed.
Our business is set up with Consultants working out of their homes. We are all connected online so plan and report preparation will not be interrupted.
We are here to serve you during this time and want you to feel comfortable that we are taking all necessary precautions to protect everyone’s health.

Trees: A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

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

Dealing with Tree Root Damage

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.

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Preparing Your Property for Severe Weather and Its Aftermath

ThunderstormsDuring 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.

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Avoiding Surface Water Drainage Issues

Avoid Surface Water Drainage Issues with a Gutter SystemStanding 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.

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How Do I Know If My Stairs Are Too Rusty To Be Safe?

Unsafe, Rusty Stairs

When you’re a kid, some things – like stairs and heights, can be really scary. As an adult, perhaps not so much. Yet there are few things scarier than stairs that have not been properly maintained and are on the verge of collapse.

We recently had a project in Central California’s Salinas Valley that involved rusted stairs. These stairs led up to the second story of a large apartment complex.

The stairs were very wobbly, and possibly close to collapse, which was of major concern. A collapse would almost certainly cause serious injury to any tenants that were on or near them. A collapse could also affect access to the upper floors of the building. Continue reading

What Should I Do If My Window Cracks?

Broken Glass Thermal StressRecently 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