Emergency Roof Repair: From “Oh No” . . . To “Ho, Ho, Ho!” 

If there’s any good news when you’re facing an unexpected roof repair, we’re coming into the best time of year to make roof repairs.  A beautiful new roof or a well-maintained or repaired roof not only keeps you warm and dry, it adds value to any home. There are several reasons why late spring to early summer is the best time of year to complete a roofing project

First, the likelihood of rain starts to diminish in May and June in Southern California and the rest of the West as we head into June and July.  So, now is the time to get started whether you need minor patching or when bigger areas need replacement or if you need a whole new roof for that vacation, fixer or rental property. Continue reading

Spring Is Sprung:  Will Your HVAC Survive Summer? 

Who doesn’t love Spring in Southern California? Early March cool turns warmer and brings colorful bulbs to bloom, tea in a rose garden, a winery tasting before lunch, family get-togethers, and so on. The beauty of nature at this time of year is enough to distract anyone, but don’t forget about your Spring Cleaning.  Be sure your list includes looking at your Helfrich Associates annual home maintenance calendar. Continue reading

Love Your Trees, But Keep Them Away … Please!

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

Preventing Termite Trouble

When was the last time that you had a termite inspection done on your Victorian, craftsman, Spanish revival or modern home?  If you’re like many of us, that might have been a day or two before you moved into your newest home—even if it has been decades.  Unfortunately in Southern California, it is generally termite season 365-days a year and none of the various treatments available last forever although some are more effective than others.So you need to watch out for signs of new termite infestations.  At Helfrich Associates, we’re licensed engineers specializing in structural issues and we routinely encounter termite infestations and damage.  We see them or sadly the damage they’ve already caused most often when we are a part of large renovation projects involving classic homes, such as aging Victorians with their intricate decorative trims or craftsmen with their rustic natural style. Continue reading

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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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

That’s The Breaks: Aging City Water Lines

Most of us in Southern California, even during periods of drought, generally take it for granted that when we turn on the tap the water flows.  Our reliable municipal network of ground and surface water resources, water treatment plants, pumps and pipes is generally an invisible world until the water temporarily stops flowing—usually due to a planned maintenance outage or a surprise prolonged power outage or a line or pump problem.
Unfortunately, some people have had the opposite experience and it’s becoming more common as our infrastructure ages in the Golden state:
What happens when a city installed pipe bursts below the ground on your property?
Well, the only way to describe it is, “That’s a gusher!”  Most of us would never see such a disaster coming, but it does happen from time to time due to earthquakes, corrosion, construction and other maintenance or operational issues.
Part of our client’s property in Simi Valley was flooded when a city water line broke on the property. The back and side yards of the home were inundated with several inches of flowing water on February 18, 2019 from the city’s broken pipe. In these situations, everyone is usually very cooperative until the water is shut-off and the homeowner calls the insurance company, the repair contractors or the family attorney.

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Inspecting This Old House To See If It Stands The Test of Time

If you’re a fan of classic architecture and the great homes of the past centuries, then you’ve probably also watched the PBS television classic, This Old House.  Many of the homes featured on the long-running TV Series are located on the East Coast and typically have required construction repairs and updating with modern plumbing, electrical, HVAC.

On the West Coast, we have our share of classic homes too, dating back to the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries.  In Southern California, our classic Victorians, Craftsman, Adobes, Spanish Revival and Ranch homes are local architectural treasures and are of historic significance.  For our clients, preserving them is often both a practical matter as their principal residence and a labor of love to ensure their survival continues for generations to come. Continue reading

Cracking Up Over Eaves

We were hired to evaluate the interior ceiling cracks in a home in Fullerton. CA. A contractor performed measured floor elevations to see if there was any foundation or slab movement and their measurements showed that the slab had not moved. So, foundation settlement was ruled out.

During our site inspection it was noted that the eaves were between 5 and 6 feet wide. A normal eave is between 2 and 3 feet wide. It was also noted that stucco had been added to be bottom of the eaves which made them heavier than normal eaves.

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