Fires, Floods and Slides: What You Can Do  

Treehouse and TentThe good news is that your treasured Southern California family mountain get-away cabin or beautiful second home in the forest survived a wild fire last year.  The question is what will happen this summer when thunderstorms strike or when normal rainfall resumes after our La Nina drought cycle ends?  Is your home also safe from potential mud slides and flooding?  What can you do about it?

The fire cycle in our mountains changes everything, especially for home owners.  While your home itself didn’t burn, did your property’s slopes burn?  What about nearby hillsides and the canyons higher up? Did they burn or are the trees, shrubs and other plants still in place and growing green in the drought?  How did the neighboring properties surrounding your home do?  Did they burn or are they all intact? Continue reading

A Drainage Dilemma In Lemon Grove: It All Flows Downhill

As we’re entering the month of March in Southern California, the heavy rainy season of winter is typically coming to an end. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any more rain, but the possibility of rain is tapering off. Spring will be here before you know it on March 22 with its longer days. It will soon be time to inspect our home drainage systems and make any needed repairs so we can check off this task as done on our maintenance calendars. Water generally flows downhill eventually and it’s best to make sure your drainage system is in good working order to protect your home. Continue reading

Learning the Sounds of Home Fire Safety

If your life or a loved one’s life depended on it, can you tell the difference between the sounds a home smoke alarm makes when there’s a real fire versus a low battery notification?  Are you sure?  Your lives might depend on the right answer.

The National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) members want you to:  “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety”.  It’s important that everyone in the home (parents, kids, seniors) learn the different sounds that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms make. 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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Making all the Right Moves in Southern California

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!”

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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

Case Study: How the Terms Mouse Trap and Fire Training End Up in the Same Sentence

Fire Mouse TrapA mouse trap is a common, albeit annoying, word in suburban households. To most people, we picture a small slab of wood, a piece of cheese, and the impending doom for a little furry critter. A mouse trap, regarding to fire training, is a whole new ball game.

Helfrich-Associates was called out to a job site in the Inland Empire: A Fire Training Center. This state of the art training center will be utilized by fire departments and students in the surrounding area with every square inch of this training center being built meticulously. There are buildings that are being constructed specifically to be put on fire, but most interestingly, and why Helfrich-Associates is here, is the Mouse Trap. Continue reading

Common Signs of Home Damage and Deterioration

A deteriorating homeDo you know the common signs of home damage and deterioration? It’s important to be aware of changes around your home or property that could be signs of deterioration. These signs could be sagging beams, discoloration on ceilings/walls, cracks in floors & foundations, rust on steel stairs, tipping of retaining walls or slope movement.

Let’s face it, home or property repairs are never fun. They’re costly and time consuming. Most of us want to get them done as quickly and economically as possible. Yet there’s one thing you should never exclude from your project — a consultation with an experienced construction engineer about the signs of home damage. Continue reading

The Dangers of Building Without A Permit

The Dangers of Building Without A PermitGetting ready to start an improvement project and wondering if you can start building without a permit? If you’ve ever been in the market for a new property, for instance a new home, you may have come across some that were remodeled without a permit. Buyers may encounter properties that have been updated since their original construction with additions that range from electrical work to an expansion of the building. So what should you do when you find that perfect property that’s had work done but the previous owner may not have obtained a permit to do the work? Continue reading