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

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

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

Five Tips For A Better Home Office

 If you work at home and don’t have a comfortable home office or have one that’s not ideal, now is the time to convert a rarely used space (formal living and dining rooms), remodel a bedroom, or add a new addition. Costs are rising: labor, materials, equipment, furnishings, etc. Materials delivery is lagging too, but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll finish and possibly with a lower price tag. Financing is still at a relatively low rate, but interest rates are expected to rise by mid-year or sooner.

After a year-plus of being asked to work at home temporarily, you’re probably like many of us beginning to wonder if this might be the new normal.  Some companies are also beginning to reconsider how much physical office space “togetherness” is really necessary to meet their business objectives.  Those sprawling corporate campuses and skyscrapers are expensive. Many office employees also prefer some mix of home and company office time. 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

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

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

Maintaining Your HVAC System Because It’s Too Darn Hot

This summer has been truly a record-setter in the West for heat, drought and smoky wild fires. If you’re not all that bothered about the heat at home because you work in a cool office all day and then jump in the pool after 5 o’clock,count yourself lucky.  Also, don’t forget your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system also filters pollutants day and night to reduce the effects of allergies and other respiratory issues that affect quality sleep. Continue reading

Dream Home: Pool Nightmare

The owners of a beautiful contemporary 7,000-square foot dream home with a forever view in Murrieta near the Temecula wine country of Southern California awoke to a disturbing pool disaster a few years ago. Shortly after construction, their new pool, surrounded by a resort-like patio deck suddenly started to slip tragically down the slope below.

The movement of the patio/pool structure with large, visible cracks left no doubt about the unstable nature of the lot and hillside below. With the region’s often weak, compressible soils, and a proclivity for earthquakes, hillside homes in Southern California are often unstable and subject to more than a little shaking. Continue reading