Dealing With A Roof Collapse

Aftermath of a roof collapse

Aftermath of a roof collapse – image courtesy of

A roof collapse can be sudden, dangerous, and devastating. Often, excessive loads can be the cause of a collapse. These loads can be weather related, involving things such as heavy snow or pooling rainwater. Another cause may be improper roof repair, such as failure to remove shingles or tiles when re-roofing or repairing leaks.

Roofs are typically designed to support their own weight (consisting of framing members, sheathing, and roofing materials), plus the weight of expected live loads.  Live loads consist of people who might need to walk on the roof to service equipment or to perform roof repairs, and the estimated weight of ponded rain (if the roofs are flat), and accumulated snow (if the building is in a snow area).  Each of these conditions must be considered in the design of the supporting members.  One problem that is particular to flat roofs is the deformation of roofing support members that can cause water to pond on the roof.  Once the water begins to pond, the framing members deflect more, which leads to more ponding, which leads to more deformation.  An unstable condition is created in these roofs that can eventually lead to collapse of the roof. Continue reading

What Happens When A Car Hits Your Property


What Happens When A Car Hits Your Property?

What happens when a car hits your property? Image courtesy

A few days ago, I was driving through a neighborhood and I saw a car that had jumped a curb and careened in to a home, knocking out a front window and wall. It’s the kind of vehicle accident that could happen to anyone; cars are big, heavy and easy to lose control of. It reminded me of one of Helfrich-Associates’ current projects. So, what happens when a car hits your property?

Our team was recently called by an insurance company and asked to determine how to temporarily support a building after a vehicle had crashed in to it. Continue reading

Case Study: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley Marina

Case Study: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley.

This week we’ll be covering our latest case study. In early 2011 Helfrich-Associates was asked to examine a hotel in the city of Berkeley and evaluate the structural integrity of a portion of the hotel.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Berkeley Marina is located less than 5 miles from Emeryville and only 20 minutes from Oakland International Airport. The hotel is situated on Berkeley Marina.

The hotel, built in the 1970s, had a building that was suffering from titling due to uneven soil conditions. The building in question, number three (3), was built on a 12-inch thick, reinforced mat foundation that was not sufficient to deal with the settling of soft soils. As a result the building had tilted more than 20 inches. Continue reading

Case Study: Severe Sewer-Main Blockage

Manhole Cover

Image of manhole cover courtesy

Sewage backups – they can be one of the most hazardous things that can happen in a place of business or home. Not only can they cause significant health issues for anyone exposed to the area, but they may also cause thousands of dollars in damage to underground piping and any surrounding areas.

In May, 2014 Helfrich-Associates was called in to assess an insurance claim for sewer damage in The City of Burbank, California. The damage occurred when a sewer-main blockage caused sewage to spill onto a commercial property. Continue reading

Warning: Falling Rocks

Alpine: Photo of Damage

A photograph of the damage from falling rock.

Remember when, at the beginning of the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the scene where Indy takes a golden statue off of a pedestal and a giant boulder begins to tumble down a ramp, almost crushing our hero? Well, imagine that boulder at the top of a hill near your property. Now imagine it rolling down the hill, except your home or commercial structure isn’t Indiana Jones, and it can’t escape!

Helfrich-Associates recently was invited to help resolve just such a situation in Alpine, California. Continue reading

Real Estate Transactions: Making the Right Choices

Image of a property at sunset.

Image of a property at sunset courtesy of

If you’ve ever been involved with real estate transactions such as purchasing a property, then you’ve had to engage the services of a realtor or a financial institution. It’s a necessary part of the American dream, as well as the dream of many people across the globe.

Before any property can be purchased it must be put through a complicated series of real estate, legal, and financial reviews. This includes property inspections and disclosure statements. During these procedures, there are many things to look at. Unfortunately, sometimes issues are either missed or concealed in the rush to clear a property for purchase.

Continue reading

Get The Facts On Liquefaction Mitigation

Liquefaction mitigation can help reduce property damage in Long Beach, California.

Liquefaction mitigation can help reduce property damage. Image of Long Beach, California courtesy of

Since the beginning of civilization people have always wanted to live near bodies of water. As building construction has advanced so has the need for stable structures that can resist the forces of nature. Earthquake-prone regions are particularly difficult to build in. Soil near rivers, as well as areas that are close to the ocean, can lose strength during an earthquake and turn into a soup-like consistency. Among other problems, structures built on top of the unstable soil can settle and tilt. Continue reading

A Day In The Life Of Traffic Litigation

Traffic litigation can be a complex process, especially when involving California roads. Image courtesy of

Traffic litigation can be a complex process, especially when involving California roads. Image courtesy of

There’s no question about it: driving a vehicle takes a lot of concentration. Especially when driving any kind of oversized vehicle, such as a commercial truck. Avoiding other vehicles and pedestrians is just the start. Road conditions, and adjacent areas, can play a large part in safe vehicle operations. Continue reading

Landslide Mitigation: Overcoming the Risk

Landslide mitigation can help in areas prone to landslides, such as in Malibu, California. Image Courtesy

Landslide mitigation can help in areas prone to landslides, such as in Malibu, California. Image Courtesy

The city of Malibu is one of California’s most beautiful coastal destinations. Located along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, the area is framed by the Pacific Ocean as well as the Santa Monica Mountains.

While coastal zones and properties are highly desirable, they can be difficult to build on. In part, this is due to erosion, rainfall, soil composition, and poor grading. Malibu has steep, clay slopes that are prone to landslides. Continue reading

World of Concrete 2015: Our Impressions

As seen at World of Concrete 2015. A unique sample of a concrete wall.

As seen at World of Concrete 2015. A unique sample of a concrete wall.

Did you make it to this year’s World of Concrete? The World of Concrete event is the third largest convention in Las Vegas, after NASCAR and the Bull Riders Association, with more than 50,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors. At this year’s World of Concrete there were two outdoor exhibit areas with heavy construction equipment (including test drives for novices), concrete demolition demonstrations, concrete slab finishing, and concrete sculptures and artwork. Continue reading