The Top Ten Annual Must-Do Items
If your home, your wallet and peace-of-mind are important priorities, then the beginning of each year comes with a new opportunity that’s too good to pass up. You can save yourself all kinds of unpleasant surprises, unexpected bills and headaches by committing to the annual scheduling of the top twelve most important home inspections and maintenance tasks.
Are there problems when you do construction work before you get a permit? The answer is always, “Yes!” Sooner or later it will catch up with you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
In December 2017, we were asked to help a property owner get a grading permit from the County of San Bernardino for a partially graded hillside property. This scenic property had a great mountain view. Because the property was located within an earthquake fault zone, we performed a fault study and determined that the site could not be developed with a residential structure. Continue reading
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
One of our clients recently asked us to help them, decide how to build a basement below their house. Normally, a basement is built before the house is built so that the basement foundations can be used to support the house. In this case, the house was built in the 1920’s, and the owner wanted to add a basement and first floor addition to the property.
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.
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
Tilted reinforced concrete foundation next to slope below building
In 2015, one of our property management clients purchased an apartment complex in Northern California that consisted of five, two-story buildings. One of the buildings in the complex (constructed in the early 1960’s) has had a long history of foundation problems, consisting of fill settlement and slope movement. This building movement had caused leaks in the below ground plumbing (water pipes and sewer pipes), which caused additional settlement and movement of the building.
Attempts to stabilize the building, and to lift it to approximately level, were made in the early 1980’s and in the mid-1990’s, approximately 15 years later. We were contacted about 20 years after the latest repairs because the building was again becoming seriously tilted and potentially unsafe (and certainly inconvenient) for occupancy. 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
Tilted retaining wall
When purchasing a home, especially a resale home, be sure to walk around the outside of the entire property or you might be surprised at what you find after your purchase. The phrase, “buyer beware,” still applies when it comes to purchasing real estate.
This situation occurs more often than you would think when it comes to older or historic properties dating back 40 years or more when building codes and construction industry standards were less stringent than today.
Bridge Out Ahead!
We were asked to investigate a property in Thermal, California to observe and evaluate erosion of the foundations of a steel bridge. This bridge crosses a 50-foot wide irrigation canal in a rural area. Thermal is located in the east Coachella Valley of Southern California about 35 minutes from Palm Springs. The area’s economy is centered largely on agriculture, which includes a wide variety of vegetables such as bell and other peppers.
Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Agricultural canal bridge
This bridge serves as access to farmland and a residence. It looks safe from the road level, but at this point it is unsafe to use! This is a real inconvenience for the farmers who need to access their crops and perform necessary tasks such as irrigation monitoring, fertilizing, harvesting and replanting. The homeowners are bothered by this nuisance, which limits their safe access by car or truck to their property without the worrisome danger of a bridge collapse. Continue reading