bowing walls

Bowing Foundation Walls

Owning a home in the greater Los Angeles area is a dream come true for many people. However, home maintenance is essential to protecting your property value and keeping your structure secure.

If you have noticed the walls or floors in your property have begun to warp, don’t panic. Discover what there is to know about bowing foundation walls for your LA property.

Related: House Leveling Services

Bowing Foundation Walls 101

One common but often serious foundation issue for Los Angeles homeowners is bowing foundation walls. Bowing walls indicate that the foundation of the home is experiencing inward movement. This is a sign of instability that could threaten the structural security of the home if it isn’t addressed in a timely fashion. Often bowing walls are identifiable to LA property owners. However, some homeowners might miss key warning signs.

Bowing foundation wall

Homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area must be aware of the health of their property. Since seismic activity can affect LA residents at any time, foundation damage can quickly lead to property damage and jeopardize resident safety in the event of an earthquake. The best way to guard both residents and property value is to make sure that all foundation issues including bowing walls are addressed as quickly and effectively as possible.

Related: Foundation Maintenance Guide

Causes of Bowing Walls

Several leading causes contribute to foundation issues in LA. However, expansive soil is often the culprit when it comes to bowing walls. Bowing walls are a sign of structural instability, which is often triggered by expansive soil. Soil expands with moisture and contacts during dry periods. This process can place pressure on the foundation of the home and lead to issues such as cracks and shifts in the foundation.

The interior walls of your Los Angeles building are likely experiencing a bowing or warped effect because of the soil outside of the building. Other issues that exacerbate hydrostatic pressure include local construction, heavy rainfall, invasive tree roots, drainage system failure, yard grading issues, and extreme weather. Other elements of the property that can cause the foundation to experience hydrostatic pressure issues include paved surfaces such as driveways, patios, and even porches.

Signs of Bowing Walls

Expansive soil and hydrostatic pressure can often cause visible signs of foundation damage. Doors and windows that have difficulty opening, leaning chimneys, and warped floors are all signs that something is amiss. Water intrusion is also a major indicator that something is wrong with your property. Homeowners should take signs of bowing walls very seriously and immediately schedule a professional property inspection.

Horizontal cracks on foundation walls are often a major warning sign of bowing walls. Water leaking through the foundation walls is also a clear indicator of hydrostatic pressure. Bowing walls also have a visibly buckled appearance that is often easy for LA homeowners to spot. Bowing walls are a sign of pressure, and they indicate a major foundation security flaw. It is essential for LA property owners to professionally address bowing walls as soon as possible.

Related: Post And Pier Repair

historic home los angeles

Bowing Wall Solutions In LA

How can bowing walls be remedied for Los Angeles homeowners? Contractors will take steps to secure the foundation. Stabilizing the walls of the building can straighten the appearance and prevent serious property damage. Oftentimes, homeowners also install yard drainage systems if drainage failure also contributed to foundation problems. Many contractors follow a reliable process for securing and stabilizing the building foundation.

Contactors first determine where the home needs to be anchored before digging holes and preparing the new foundation wall. They then attach the anchor to the property to stabilize the home with as little invasion as possible. Wall anchors are tightened for maximum stability, while the landscaping around the property can be restored. Foundation repair specialists can also provide other solutions to remedy bowing walls depending on the exact nature of the situation.

Related: Foundation Underpinning

Why Us?

Some signs of foundation damage are visible to the naked eye, though professional home inspections are still needed to determine the nature of the issues and uncover the root cause of foundation problems. That’s why it’s always essential to turn to a professional if you suspect that your Los Angeles property may be experiencing foundation issues.

At California Foundation Works, we pride ourselves in being a one-stop shop that you can turn to for your full contracting needs. We service residential and commercial buildings in the greater Los Angeles area to provide premium services at competitive prices. Our team has decades of experience to back our work and we rely on communication, efficiency, and quality for each project we undertake. Call today to begin discussing your LA construction needs.

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    Yard Drainage Winter Preparation

    Surface Water

    Winter months are approaching, and though Southern California homeowners don’t have to contend with snow and the issues it brings, the cold weather still affects how homeowners should treat their property. While thoughts of insulation are certainly obvious when it comes to the temperatures cooling down, an important area of home maintenance that needs to be attended to is yard drainage. Today we’re going to break down how to get your yard and drainage system prepared for the winter months, as well as common winter drainage problems to avoid so that your property is in top shape during every season.

    Related: Yard Drainage Maintenance Guide

    Preparing your yard for winter

    Fall is in the air and winter is on the horizon, which means it’s time for some yard cleaning. But where to begin? There are a number of areas you can address to make sure your yard will be prepared for winter. To facilitate smooth drainage, be sure to clean out your gutters and remove any fallen debris or blockage. Clogged gutters can easily become a source of costly and unnecessary hassle, while they can also lead to water damage if not properly cleaned. Next, be sure to drain your outside spigots by turning off water from inside the home. To take an extra precaution, you can also insulate any exterior faucets.

    Drainage Installation

    Other general yard maintenance steps include power washing all outside surfaces in order to remove the dirt from the summer. You should also verify that your outdoor lighting system is fully functioning. Another important step for winter lawn care is fertilizing the lawn and making sure that any irrigation systems are properly drained. Overall the goal is to best preserve your yard, protect your existing landscape, and avoid drainage failure that could affect the yard come spring.

    Yard drainage maintenance 101   

    Yard drainage is a necessary component of a healthy property. Clogged drainage systems can lead to a host of hassles for the homeowner. While you’re preparing your yard for the winter, it’s important to focus extra attention on keeping your drains unclogged and fully functioning. In addition to clearing debris out of the drains, you will need to regularly snake drains if they become clogged. By inserting a slender auger into the plumbing system, or getting a professional to do this for you, clogs can be dislodged to facilitate a smooth flow and unobstructed drainage system.
    When inspecting your drainage system, it’s also important to ensure that your grates and pipes aren’t damaged or broken in any way. If you notice punctured, broken, damaged, or missing parts of any pipes or grates, then you should get them fixed right away, especially before the colder part of the year begins. Lastly, whatever you do, never use chemicals. When it comes to yard drainage, it’s never a good idea to use chemicals. That means if you have a drain that you cannot unclog on your own without chemical intervention, it’s time to call in the professionals. Attempting to use chemicals on your drain will only make the problem worse.

    Related: Cause and Solutions to Common Drainage Problems


    Anticipating winter yard problems

    While many wait for their yards to thaw out in the spring before addressing drainage issues, there is absolutely no reason to wait if you want your property to look its best while avoiding any damage. Since winter weather can be unpredictable even in Southern California, it’s important to prepare your yard ahead of time for anything that nature might have to offer. The process of water getting cold and thawing out that occurs during winter can lead to winter yard flooding, which is why it’s essential to have a fully functioning drainage system in the event of this occurring. 

    Improper drainage in the winter can lead to a ruined yard in the spring if the yard isn’t able to properly drain itself during the cooler months. While no one wishes to see their landscape and vegetation ruined, an even more serious issue can occur if the drainage system is not adequately addressed. With the possibility of basement flooding due to a faulty drainage system, your foundation could become seriously damaged during the winter months. Improperly drained water can enter into tiny cracks in the foundation after seeping into the ground around the home. If frozen, the water can then expand and widen the cracks, causing even more water to enter the home when it thaws out. This process can repeat itself and lead to foundation damage, which can require extensive repair solutions in order to preserve the integrity of the home.

    Addressing winter drainage problems 

    While you can set your yard up for success by following the aforementioned tips for preparing your property, there are also steps you can take during the winter to make sure that everything is functioning smoothly. If water thaws, ensure that it is sloped away from sides of your home and isn’t able to enter through the cracks. It is highly recommended that you routinely inspect your drainage system to make sure that it remains unobstructed.
    Some problems can be prevented by vigilance and routine maintenance, but there are other issues that may require professional help. In addition to foundation damage due to water, which should never be taken lightly, the two biggest winter drainage risks include plant damage and water entering the building through the driveway. Excess water caused by pooling due to a faulty drainage system can kill plants, causing your curb appeal to plummet. Additionally, water entering the property through the driveway can lead to personal property damage. Fortunately, these problems can be avoided by having the right drainage system installed to meet your yard’s unique needs.

    Related: Drainage Solutions

    Is your drainage system in top shape? Are you prepared for the impact that winter months can have on your property?

    Whether your drainage system is experiencing flaws or you wish to install a new system altogether, California Foundation Works is here to get the job done in order to protect your property. Our team of expert contractors are happy to repair or install any drainage system that suits your needs and desires while working within your budget. From sump pumps to French drains to drain boxes and catch basins, if you want it, we can install it!

    Call today to book your free property inspection and get started on discussing your drainage options.  

    Call California Foundation Works today to book your FREE foundation and drainage inspection

    san andreas fault

    Earthquake Preparation Tips: Surviving the San Andreas Fault & Dangerous Quakes

    san andreas fault

    Southern California homeowners contend with their own unique set of real estate issues. With one of the largest threats facing a safe home being seismic activity, the San Andreas fault poses an exorbitant threat to greater California safety. Furthermore, Los Angeles was deemed one of the 10 largest cities in the world that has been rocked by damaging earthquakes. Today we’re going to review these large areas of earthquake concern and assist homeowners across California with fortifying their properties in the event of an earthquake striking. The bottom line is that California residents need to be prepared for the next big quake, and since it could strike at any time, it’s paramount to understand the issues at hand and devise a plan to combat seismic activity destruction.

    Related: Earthquake Retrofitting 101: Secure Your Home

    San Andreas fault safety concerns

    The San Andreas fault stretches 800 miles across the Golden State, carrying a deadly legacy with it. With past earthquakes bringing mass fatalities, there is much concern over what will happen when the next big quake occurs.

    All major cities surrounding the San Andreas fault could be endangered by a large earthquake on the fault, leading to likely catastrophic results.

    earthquake retrofitting

    In addition to the loss of many lives, there would be serious economic effects and mass real estate damage associated with an earthquake of large magnitude across the fault. Earthquakes can wreck cataclysmic damage to structures and largely impact the economy. That’s why local property owners have to do everything in their power to keep their structures secure, minimizing both financial and property loss and saving lives in the process.

    San Andreas earthquake model 

    Being earthquake ready involves more than one area of focus. While homeowners will have to team up with professional contractors to determine weaknesses in the home and secure them, understanding seismic activity in the area is beneficial to revealing a larger portrait of what needs to be done to fortify California properties. Thanks to efforts such as the ShakeOut Scenario, CyberShake, scientists are getting closer to determining when the next large regional earthquake might arrive. By creating estimates of ground shaking, scientists are working to map out plausible earthquake scenarios so that California homeowners and residents can be better prepared for combatting and preparing for deadly quakes. While efforts are still being made to most accurately pinpoint and predict seismic activity, one thing is apparent: it’s not a question of if, but when the next big quake is going to strike.

    Related: Earthquake Safety Tips

    Earthquake Brace and Bolt

    Are you earthquake ready?

    With the threat of the next big quake perpetually looming on the horizon, Southern California homeowners have to ask themselves an important question: is my home earthquake ready? In order to understand why proper structural fortification is needed, it’s necessary to understand how earthquakes affect homes. Though concerns about major earthquakes are certainly warranted, the scary truth is that any situation that involves the ground shifting beneath a home is enough to damage the foundation if it is not properly secured. 

    That means that as much as a minor earthquake can potentially upset your home, causing lasting and devastating consequences on the structural health and lifespan of your building. For this reason, it’s essential to make sure that all areas of your building meet current codes and earthquake retrofitting standards. If you have a wood-structured building, especially one constructed prior to 1980, chances are your home is in need of an earthquake retrofitting update. However, if there is any area of weakness in your building, then retrofitting solutions are needed.  

    How to spot damage 

    TWhile the earthquake retrofitting process will require professional intervention, you can take precautions to protect your home against earthquake damage. The most important thing a homeowner can do to protect their property is to be vigilant about seeking out signs of foundation damage. The most apparent signs that something is amiss with your structure include large cracks, horizontal cracks, wide cracks, cracks clustered together, visible slants in ceilings/floors/walls, a visible slant in the outer structure of the building, doors and windows that have difficult opening, crumbling brick, and water intrusion. If you notice any of these signs, it’s detrimental to the health of your building to call in a professional contractor for an evaluation and home inspection. A professional contractor will be needed, especially there are foundation damage warning signs that can be invisible to the untrained eye.

    Related: Preventative Care for Foundation Repair

    Preparing your home for an earthquake

    After working with a professional to determine the areas of your structure that are in need of updates and fortification, the earthquake retrofitting process can begin. Retrofitting solutions include cripple wall bracing, foundation bolting, and attaching braced cripple walls to the floor.

    Strengthening cripple walls will guard the home against buckling when seismic activity hits, while foundation bolting will secure the home in place to prevent it from sliding when the ground shakes. 

    Brace and bolt

    Together these tried and true earthquake retrofitting measures can secure your home and drastically reduce the potential impact of seismic activity. And since seismic activity can strike at any time, it’s crucial to get the retrofitting process started as soon as possible. Any delay opens the window for damage, destruction, and possible death. Additionally, with mandatory retrofitting ordinances being handed out all over California, chances are your structure will be required by law to be updated if it hasn’t been already.  

    If you’re a homeowner in an area prone to seismic activity, it’s key that you act as soon as possible. When it comes to protecting the residents of your dwelling and your property value, there’s no time to lose. Earthquakes could strike at any time, which is why you need to team up with a professional team of contractors and ensure that your home is properly retrofitted and fortified to withstand what nature has to throw at it.

    Here at California Foundation Works, we’re dedicated to keeping California residents safe one household at a time. Call today to book your free home inspection so that we can get started on your seismic retrofit!

    Any questions or concerns? 

    Call California Foundation Works today
    to book your FREE* foundation inspection and estimate!

    expansive soil

    Ways in Which Soil Issues Can Affect Your Home Foundation

    expansive soil

    Is the structure of your home entirely secure? While all homeowners would like to answer this question with a definitive affirmation, the reality is that there are a number of factors that could be affecting your home’s stability. One of the most insidious and instrumental ways in which the foundation of a home can become damaged is the very land it sits upon. Soil, and the issues caused by weather fluctuation, plays a monumental role in determining the stability of your structure. Read on to discover everything you need to know about how soil can affect your home’s foundation, signs of subsequent damage, and tips for stopping and resolving this potentially monumental foundation stability issue. 

    Related: How the California Drought Affects Your Foundation

    How does soil affect a home’s stability?

    You may not realize what a significant role soil plays in determining your home’s stability. The amount of moisture in the soil drastically affects the stability of the home, since soil expands during periods of heavy rainfall and contracts during droughts. What does that mean when the hot, dry season rolls around? Spurred by weather fluctuations, shifting soil can cause instabilities in the base of your home. Contracting soil can wreak havoc on the building’s foundation, causing the foundation of the home to destabilize. 

    soil grading

    In turn, this can cause the foundation to crack, sink, and even slide, completely upsetting the structure of the home.

    What is expansive soil?

    Though the weather in Southern California might appear ideal, it can unfortunately be leading to issues with your soil and structural stability. While hot weather can cause the soil underneath your home to contract, expansive soil provides another threat to structural stability. Minerals in the soil increase in volume when they absorb excess water. This situation can exert enough force to cause damage to the building’s structure. While the damage caused by expansive soil will usually begin in the foundation, floors, and ground level of the structure, the damage can reach the upper floors if it becomes significant. And once the expansive soil dries, the building then becomes susceptible to issues caused by contracting soil. Because soil damage occurs over time, and is not typically tied to a major event, it can be difficult to spot. Fortunately there are signs of foundation damage caused by soil issues that the homeowner can be on the lookout for. 


    Related: How Expansive Soils Can Affect Your Hillside Home 

    Foundation crack repair beverly hills

    What are foundation instability warning signs?

    Many homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage caused by expansive soil and soil-related issues. This makes it extremely important to spot signs of soil damage on your own. Foundation damage warning signs include cracks of both the exterior and interior variety, particularly those that are excessively wide, large, horizontal, or clustered closely with other cracks. Warped floors, walls, and an overall slant to the building’s appearance are also indicators of damage.

    Other signs include water damage, uneven walls and floors, crumbling bricks, and sagging chimneys. Another sign of foundation damage is ill-fitting windows and doors that have difficulty opening. While a professional contractor will be needed to spot warning signs that are invisible to the untrained eye, these signs are all visibly apparent to the vigilant homeowner. Therefore it’s important to be on the lookout for these telltale signs. 

    What are the solutions for expansive soil? 

    Once warning signs for foundation damage have been spotted, it’s essential to stabilize the home in order to prevent collapse. Foundation repair services can reverse the damage caused by weakened foundation in order to restore the health of the structure. It’s crucial to ensure that your home is up to date on all building code ordinances in order to preserve the health of the structure. Foundation repair services work to install steel or cement piers around the house’s perimeter and existing piers in order to provide reinforcement. Depending on the situation at hand, hydraulic jack lifts are typically used to level the house and securely transfer its weight onto the new support. This will re-level the house and prevent it from collapsing, slanting, sliding, or sinking. In addition to jack and lift services, supported underpinning and sister foundation repair services can also be used to secure the structure.

    Related: When Should You Get a Foundation Repair? 

    Can I minimize expansive soil?

    Homeowners are able to minimize the damage of expansive soils through taking precautions to manage the soil’s moisture content. That means that is possible to safely construct a building on expansive soils as long as the building can be properly insulated from any soil volume change or if the moisture content in the soil can be maintained. Teaming up with a professional contractor can help you discover which moisture mitigation solution will work best for your property. These solutions include foundation watering systems, gutters and downspouts, timed sprinkler systems, landscaping changes, drainage system installation, and more. 

    foundation repair woodland hills

    Overall, a professional will be able to give you the best idea of how to improve your unique situation in order to best protect your property.

    Why should soil problems be addressed quickly? 

    If you have noticed signs of foundation damage, it’s important to contact a professional contractor as soon as possible. Delaying necessary foundation repairs could lead to a much costlier and more extensive foundation replacement process. The longer foundation problems go unaddressed, the greater the stability of the home is jeopardized. This threatens not only the lives of all building occupants but provides a risk of drastically lowering the home’s property value. Be sure to pay careful attention to foundation damage warning signs in your home and act as soon as possible if you notice signs of damage. Preventative action is always the most cost-effective way to fortify your property while saving money. If you notice any signs of foundation damage, be sure to request a professional inspection as soon as possible. 

    Related: Reasons Los Angeles Homes Need Foundation Inspections

    Are you concerned about the structural stability of your home? Have you noticed signs of foundation damage that might be linked to issues with your soil? Don’t wait for the problems to get worse. Call California Foundation Works today in order to give your property a professional evaluation! Our team of expert contractors will provide a free home inspection so that we can assess your situation and get started on discussing the best solution for fortifying your property. What are you waiting for?

    Call today to get started on creating a more secure home!


    Brace and bolt

    All You Need to Know about the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program


    When it comes to investing your hard-earned cash, you can’t go wrong by putting it into your home. Not only do our houses shelter our loved ones, but owning property is one of the most lucrative business ventures you can make. In order to keep your Los Angeles County home sheltered from the elements, including unpredictable storms and seismic activity, one essential step is obtaining earthquake brace and bolt services. Today we’re going to break down how you can save money through the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program, as well as its application process and benefits. If you’re a Southern California homeowner looking to guard your investment, this information is helpful to know and understand! 


    Related: Foundation Damage Caused by the Storms in Los Angeles 

    What are brace and bolt services?

    Many homes in the greater Los Angeles area are not properly fortified, leaving them vulnerable in the event of an earthquake. And when it comes to earthquakes in Southern California, it’s not a question of if they’re going to strike, but when. Homes that are decades old or constructed with wood framing, or especially homes that meet both of those specifications, are left particularly vulnerable to earthquake damage. The good news is that they can benefit enormously from brace and bolt services. 

    Braces and bolts provide the most reliable insurance on the market for your structure by securing the foundation against seismic destruction. Bolting adds anchored bolts to the crawl space in order to prevent the home from sliding during seismic activity, while bracing strengthens and stiffens cripple walls to help prevent collapse.

    What is the Earthquake Brace + Bolt program? 

    Did you know that you could receive up to $3,000 to strengthen your structure by applying for the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program? This program supports fortifying your home in order to lessen the damage of seismic activity. EBB is able to help fund retrofitting expenses for residential crawl spaces that require bolts, braces, or strapped and braced water heaters. Eligible houses must meet Chapter A3 specifications, which typically require the home to be wood-framed, built on a low slope or level ground, have a raised foundation, or have certain types of cripple walls. In order to participate in the program, you must not start retrofit work before you have been accepted into the program. That means if you seek to receive funding, it’s important to plan ahead. 


    Related: 4 Steps to Soft Story Retrofitting

    cripple wall bracing

    How can I apply for brace and bolt services?

    Interested in receiving financial assistance through EBB? There are certain specifications that homeowners must meet in order to be eligible for the program. Their home must be located in one of the designated EBB zip codes and be the primary residence at the time of application and retrofit completion. Homeowners will need to register and apply online as a homeowner and be able to show a completed and signed IRS W-9 form if asked. Registration is allowed once per house, and all houses must adhere to the program rules. 

    Wondering if your home might be eligible? There is a good chance your home might be EBB eligible if it is located inside one of the EBB zip codes, meets the CEBC Chapter A3 specifications, was built before 1980 and is located on a low slope or level ground, and if it has not already received EBB payments.

    How does the EBB application process work?

    Are you waiting to hear back about your EBB application? Once registration for the year closes, which it has already done for 2019, homeowners will be randomly selected by an electronic system. Applications must be reviewed and approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with applicants notified of progress via email. Early in the year, homeowners will be notified whether they have been placed on the waiting list or have been selected to participate. Therefore, if homeowners wish to receive assistance for the upcoming year, they are encouraged to submit all of their necessary information as soon as possible. For more information about the next grant registration, be sure to visit Applicants can also feel free to communicate with EBB at any time during the process.


    Related: Are You Prepared for the Next Earthquake?

    Why does your home need brace and bolt services?

    You may not be able to predict when the next big earthquake strikes, but you do have the power to make sure that your home is guarded against the destruction of seismic activity. Brace and bolt services are essential to the health and strength of your structure. Likewise, your home might have been secured in the past, but time can create vulnerabilities, so it’s essential to get your home inspected and possibly updated if decades have passed since the last retrofitting process. Is your home as earthquake safe as it can be? If the answer isn’t a confident yes, then it’s time to take action.

    Brace and bolt

    EBB was created in order to aid residents in properly securing their homes in order to make California safer and lessen the destruction caused by earthquakes. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of this beneficial program if you’re eligible! 


    Earthquake retrofitting measures, such as a brace and bolt services, are necessary for securing your home in the wake of seismic activity. Don’t leave your Southern California home unprotected while earthquake threats loom. While the truth is that nothing can make your home entirely safe from earthquakes and their destruction, you can certainly significantly lower your chances of property damage by properly retrofitting your home.

    Do you have concerns about the security of your structure?

    Would you like to receive more information about how you can secure your home?

    Call today to get started on the retrofitting process! At California Foundation Works we’re more than happy to answer all of your questions. Let’s work together to make your home as safe as possible!

    Call California Foundation Works today
    to book your FREE* home inspection!

    earthquake retrofitting

    Earthquake Effects and the Need for Seismic Retrofitting

    House Retrofitting

    There are many appealing aspects of settling down in Southern California, but earthquakes are certainly not one of them. While major earthquakes clearly pose visible threats to a building’s foundation, minor cases of seismic activity can also wreak havoc on your foundation in less obvious ways. In order to preserve your property value and keep your loved ones safe, it’s essential to understand the damage that earthquakes pose, spot the signs of damage, and secure your home against the threat of seismic destruction. 

    Related: Earthquake Retrofitting 101: Secure Your Home 

    How do earthquakes damage homes?

    In any situation in which the ground shifts beneath a home, damage can occur. That means that even a minor earthquake can unsettle your home and upset your foundation if your building is not properly retrofitted. An unsettled foundation can cause your home to shift, slant, or event slide off the property in extreme causes. It can also lead to a host of interior and exterior house issues, such as foundation cracks and warped floors that can lead to serious issues for the homeowner if left untreated.

    seismic retrofitting

    It’s important for homeowners to understand that even minor earthquakes can cause damage, so inspections are necessary for keeping your foundation protected. If your foundation has sustained damage, you will need professional help to resolve the issue and prevent future damage.

    How can homeowners prevent against damage? 

    While some cases of serious earthquake damage is apparent to the naked eye, mild damage can often go undetected. This can cause problems that would have been relatively easy to fix if caught early to worsen over time and lead to more extensive and costly repairs. That’s why it’s extremely important to be vigilant about checking your home for signs of foundation damage after seismic activity, no matter how minor the earthquake. The most cost effective way to keep your home safe is to be proactive, catch damages early on, and connect with a contractor to discuss repair options. While our contractors are happy to provide free foundation inspections, there are also signs that homeowners can be on the lookout for before they call in the professionals. 

    Related: Earthquake Safety Tips

    prepared for the next earthquake

    What are foundation damage warning signs?

    One of the most visible signs of foundation damage are cracks, which can be located in both the home’s exterior and interior. Exterior foundation cracks of large dimensions are often linked to foundation damage. Be on the lookout for unusually large cracks or horizontal cracks, which could be a sign of foundation movement. Visible slants in floors, ceilings, walls, and the general appearance of the house itself can indicate that the foundation is leaning or shifting, which is a sign of major foundation damage.

    Broken bricks or blocks, if these materials are used in your foundation, are also possible indicators of damage. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to call in professional help so that the root of the issues can be understood. If it is determined that your issues are linked to foundation damage, then appropriate steps must be taken to fortify your home. 

    What are earthquake retrofitting solutions? 

    The good news is that with the right professional help, retrofitting your home against the destruction of earthquakes is a more than manageable task. Earthquake retrofitting is a necessity for Southern California building owners. Popular solutions include cripple wall bracing, foundation bolting, and attaching the floor to braced cripple walls. These forms of fortification will prevent the home from shifting or sliding in the event of seismic activity, allowing the homeowner to rest easy with the knowledge that their building is secured. In order to determine which solution, or solutions, are best for your unique situation, a professional will need to evaluate your home and determine the most effective course of action. 

    Related: The Ultimate Guide for the Soft Story Retrofit Cost 

    Is your building in need of a seismic retrofit?

    If your structure hasn’t been properly secured, it is leaving residents vulnerable in the event of seismic activity. When it comes to protecting your loved ones and property value, don’t take any chances! California Foundation Works offers free home inspections so that you can set your mind at ease and get started on a cost-effective solution for securing your home. Call today to book your free, no obligations inspection. A member of our team will be happy to answer any questions!

    We offer FREE earthquake stability inspection, seismic retrofitting estimate for homeowners. To schedule call us at 323-418-2239

    soft story retrofitting in La

    The Ultimate Guide for the Soft Story Retrofit Cost Recovery Program

    soft story retrofit

    Many Los Angeles County residents have received mandatory soft-story retrofit ordinances in the mail, requiring them by law to update their buildings within a set amount of time.

    While these mandates are needed to guarantee the structural stability of the building and the safety of all occupants in the event of seismic activity, that doesn’t make receiving an ordinance any less stressful for property owners. In addition, though soft-story retrofits are necessary long-term investments that will guarantee the health of your building, that doesn’t mean that makes footing the bill any less easy in the present. Today we are going to walk you through the soft story Cost Recovery Program so that you can discover the most cost-effective way to secure your building and keep residents comfortable throughout the process without sacrificing your savings. Ready to get started?

    Related: What Affects the Cost of Seismic Retrofit?

    What are the mandatory retrofits?

    Close to 20,000 buildings in Los Angeles County alone have received orders to comply for mandatory retrofits. Passed in 2015, this ordinance requires for determined at-risk buildings to structurally secure their dated structures, a project that can run upwards of $130,000 in some cases for wood framed structures and as much as several million dollars for large concrete buildings.

    The carefully defined ordinance gives building owners a total of 7 years to complete their mandatory retrofits in full, providing them a limited amount of time to work out payment plans and figure out savings. 

    soft story retrofitting in La

    However, the Cost Recovery Program can reimburse the building owner up to 50% of the project costs upon the completion of construction.

    What is the Cost Recovery Program?  

    If you are seeking a way to recover your seismic retrofitting costs, then you are not alone. On February 12, 2016, the Seismic Retrofit Work Cost Recovery Program became effective to provide a temporary rent surcharge to tenants based on two factors. These factors include: 1. A Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) approved pass-through of the total retrofitting costs of up to 50% divided equally among all rental units; 2. A rent increase for a recovery period of 120 months (which can be extended) at the maximum amount of $38 until the approved amount has been collected in full. That means that it is possible for property owners to recover up to 50% of the costs spent on the mandatory retrofitting.

    Ready to sign up? 

    Related: What Affects the Cost of Soft Story Retrofit?

    soft story retrofitting Los angeles

    How can I apply for cost recovery?

    To apply for the Seismic Retrofit Work Cost Recovery Program, it is necessary to submit an application online. You will also be required to mail any supporting documentation that has been uploaded to the Department so that it can be received within 30 days of your application being filed. Once you have submitted your application, a mailing label will be provided, or you can bring the documentation in to a public counter. In order to submit an application successfully, it must be submitted within 12 months of your retrofit being completed.

    You will be required to submit a copy of your Tenant Habitability Plan (THP), documentation to support the costs of the project, a rent roll with tenant rent and move in dates, and final permits for all work that required permits. 

    How are cost recovery applications processed? 

    Each application will have a Case Analyst assigned to it in order to review the application and assist with the process. Tenants and landlords will be notified that the application has been filed, at which point HCIDLA will review the documentation and determine the amount of the pass-through. Once a final determination has been made, it will be mailed to the tenants and landlords along with an appeal form. Tenants and landlords will both have the right to appeal the decision. 

    Related: How to Apply for Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program

    What is the Tenant Habitability Plan?

    The Tenant Habitability Program requires that a Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) is developed in order to protect the rights of the tenants and minimize the impact of major construction for their well-being. A THP is required by property owners to ensure that necessary steps are taken to ensure that tenants can safety remain in their lodgings during construction or that safe temporary relocation can be provided for them.

    Filing a THP is a required step of seismic retrofit work. The THP requires a number of points of important information,

    soft story

    including a list of the tenants and their current rent payment, the anticipated impact of the work on the residents’ living areas, the anticipated impact of the construction on the personal property of the tenants, and extended information about the disruption anticipated during the construction. Overall, THPs require a very thorough breakdown of the amount of work anticipated and the overall impact it will have on residents and their lives. 

    What should I know about filing a THP? 

    A THP can be filed by building owners at any time before the seismic retrofit begins. While THPs might include extra costs upfront in order to minimize the impact of construction on tenants, if all paperwork is filed correctly, they can bring many long-term cost benefits since they will be a key asset in securing an approved Cost Recovery Program. Therefore, it is very important to file your THP correctly. If you team up with the right engineer, then you will be able to keep your tenants in their homes and avoid paying for relocation.

    Successful engineering, therefore, plays an important role in deterring the overall cost and success of your retrofit. All soft-story building owners are advised to ask about the THP process when they are getting their project bids, in order to be able to complete it successfully. The number one thing you can do to ensure the comfort of your tenants and the eventual recovery of the project cost is to work with a skilled engineer who will be able to minimize the disruption of your tenants’ lives and complete the mandatory retrofitting project in a quick, clean, and efficient manner. 

    Related: Earthquake Retrofitting 101: Securing Your Home

    Is your building in need of a soft story retrofit?

    Have you received a mandatory ordinance in the mail?

    Do you have any concerns about the structural stability of your dwelling?

    arrow_greenAfter a thorough assessment, one of our foundation repair experts will provide you with a free*, no-obligation quote.


    Call Us Today For A FREE Soft Story Inspection

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      4 Steps to Soft Story Retrofitting

      soft story retrofit

      The process of soft-story retrofitting, step by step

      Soft-story structures are a growing concern for Southern California residents, with thousands of multi-story buildings in the Los Angeles area suffering from a weak first floor that compromises the structural integrity of the entire building.

      The issue has escalated for the City of Los Angeles to the point where it’s no longer a choice whether or not to update buildings with weakened first floors.

      California foundation works soft story

      Following the passing of Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 in 2015, approximately 13,500 buildings in the Los Angeles area have been slapped with a mandatory soft-story retrofit requirement. Hearing your building needs to comply with the Los Angeles seismic retrofit ordinances might seem like a justifiable reason to stress. However, the process is far more manageable than it might seem. Allow us to break down the soft story retrofitting process in four easy to follow steps in order to discuss the ordinance notice, professional inspection and estimate, obtaining plans for approval, and finally getting the job done.

      soft story retrofitting Los angeles

      Step 1: Ordinance Notice

      The first step in determining if you need a soft story retrofit is the arrival of an ordinance notice. Once your building has received an ordinance notice mandating a retrofit, there will be certain timelines that need to be complied with in order to avoid the risk of demolition.

      Ordinance 184081 states that the owner will have two years to submit a structural analysis for review and approval once a formal service of the order has been received in the mail.

      The structural analysis will either have to demonstrate existing compliance, demonstrate a proposed structural evaluation to meet the current seismic retrofit requirements or show plans for the demolition of the building. One of these three options will need to be provided. The owner will then have three and a half years from when the original service of the order was received to obtain all permits needed for either the demolition or building rehabilitation. All work for the entirety of construction or demolition will need to be completed within seven years of the service order.

      Step 2: Inspection and Estimates

      The next step in the soft story retrofitting process is scheduling an inspection from a professional contractor in order to obtain an estimate for the costs.

      The contractor will be able to evaluate the extent of the building’s damage and determine approximate costs for the project. The hired contractor will need to ensure that the seismic evaluation will fully bring the building up to current codes under existing ordinances.

      soft story retrofitting in La

      The inspection and estimates will lead to the formulation of plans by the contractor. When drafting the plans for the soft story retrofit project, there are common issues that are important to avoid. Avoid plans that reduce or alter parking availability on the property, since this can create friction with the city for approval of the project. Plans that have a well-balanced ratio and distribution of windows, door openings, and wall space are more likely to be readily approved by the city without any unwanted issues. Keep in mind that the cost of the project will depend on a number of factors, including the level of hazard, the extent of retrofitting work needed, and the extent of current building decomposition.

      In order to apply for a building permit, there will be a number of permits that need to be completed, as well as site plans, architectural plans, structural plans, and full project details. Fortunately, a trained contractor will be able to walk the building owner through this process. Failure to comply with the soft story retrofit plans can lead to the property being slapped with a Notice of Violation, which could lead to serious legal problems. Additionally, weakened buildings are left vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters.

      soft story retrofitting plans

      Step 3: Getting the Plans Approved

      There are several components to submitting a plan for soft-story retrofitting, including the preliminary meeting, formal submittal, and house habitability plan. Working with a professional contractor will require little effort from the building owner, as contractors are experienced in handling this process. Before the formal submittal, the contractor will sit down with a city engineer at a preliminary meeting and review their soft-story retrofit plans. At this point, the city engineer will be able to provide valuable feedback before the plan is formally submitted by the contractor to the city.

      The inspection and estimates will lead to the formulation of plans by the contractor. When drafting the plans for the soft story retrofit project, there are common issues that are important to avoid. Avoid plans that reduce or alter parking availability on the property, since this can create friction with the city for approval of the project. Plans that have a well-balanced ratio and distribution of windows, door openings, and wall space are more likely to be readily approved by the city without any unwanted issues. Keep in mind that the cost of the project will depend on a number of factors, including the level of hazard, the extent of retrofitting work needed, and the extent of current building decomposition.

      To formally submit the plan, an application form needs to be filled out and appropriate fees will need to be paid. On average, the first round of corrections should take a month after the plan is submitted formally. At this point, a meeting will be arranged for the contractor to go over the corrected plans with a plan checker so that the plans can be approved. Additionally, it is necessary to fill out a tenant habitability plan with the Department of Housing. This can be done electronically and usually takes only five days to be approved.

      On average, be prepared to spend between $850 to $1200 for smaller projects and up to $5,000 for larger projects when it comes to planning check fees. Are you pressed for time? While normal submittal time for a project engineer to approve a project is 30 days, you can expedite the process at an additional fee. Requesting an expediting service is something to keep in mind if time is an important factor.

      Step 4: Getting the Job Done

      After all of the inspections, plans, and formalities have been finished, the final step is to complete the entirety of the construction project. By nature, soft story buildings are structures which contain a first story that is noticeably weaker than the stories above it. This is most common in buildings that have large areas open for parking.

      Strengthening the building is a necessary precaution because buildings with a weakened first story run the risk of the entire structure being compromised.

      The best solution for this issue is to perform a seismic upgrade so that the risk of collapse during an earthquake is greatly diminished.

      Commercial retrofitting los angeles

      In order to get the job done and ensure for the future structural success of the building, it’s essential to bring in a team of professional contractors. The soft-story retrofitting process includes breaking up the existing concrete slab and installing new reinforcement beams underneath the old concrete poles. This will reinforce the structure for adequate support. Next, concrete will be poured in order to reinforce the beams, which will leave the structure stabilized. In order to comply with retrofit requirements, it’s essential to have the project completed before the deadline. If your building is in need of a soft story retrofit, be sure to consult a professional contractor today.

      With the help of the right team of contractors, dealing with a soft story retrofit can be made more than manageable. If you received an ordinance notice in the mail, or if you’re concerned about the structural integrity of your building, call today to book your free home inspection!  

      Thinking about retrofitting for your soft story building? got a notice about the soft story retrofit ordinance?

      Call California Foundation Works to schedule a Free estimate for property owners


      Mudjacking for Foundation Underpinning Retrofit

      Are you concerned about the foundation of your home? If your foundation began to slide or you have noticed a foundation imbalance, a foundation underfitting retrofit will be needed to maintain the integrity of your home’s structure. Two types of underpinning exist in order to ensure effective house repair.

      Previously we explored the specifics of piering, a process that installs concrete or steel piers into the ground in order to support the foundation. Depending on the type of pier used, piering can level a house for 20 years up to the remainder of the home’s duration. However, mudjacking provides another solution for foundation retrofit in order to properly level and secure a home.


      What is Mudjacking?


      Mudjacking provides a simpler solution to foundation underpinning retrofit than piering. Also known as slabjacking, mudjacking involves pumping concrete into the ground under a structure in order to level it. While piering requires extensive evacuation and heavy machinery, mudjacking requires little to no evacuation. To level the structure, contractors drill holes into the foundation in order to open pathways to pump polyurethane or concrete into the foundation in place of soil. If soil remains in the foundation in place of concrete, then the issues will eventually continue for homeowners. A more fortified substance is needed to secure the home.

      Related: A Foundation Which Appears Level May Need Repair

      Is Mudjacking a Permanent Solution?


      Mudjacking is not believed to be a permanent fix for foundation upset. However, it will resolve foundation issues for a significant period of time. Mudjacking is not intended to create a new foundation level, like piering, but it is able to fix the current foundation issues. Since both polyurethane and concrete are reliable substances, they will be able to seal and stabilize the soil surrounding the house. Contact a foundation professional to determine which option will be better suited for your specific foundation issue.

      Related: Slab Foundation or Pier and Beam Foundation ?

      Is Foundation Underpinning Necessary?


      There are a number of situations that specifically require foundation underpinning. Underpinning may be needed if the usage of the structure has been changed, the soil supporting the foundation has changed, nearby construction has affected the foundation soil, to increase the load capacity of the foundation, or as a result of natural causes, such as earthquakes, floods, or droughts. Sometimes, especially in older homes, the original foundation is no longer strong enough, and it is more cost effective to to repair the existing foundation rather than completely construct a new one.


      Home repairs can be costly, and they may seem like an overwhelming endeavor for the average homeowner. However, foundation issues cannot be ignored. Not only can foundation damage lower property value and be risky for residents, but ignoring issues can lead to heightened costs over time.


      Related: Foundation Underpinning Retrofit with Piers


      If you have any concerns about your home’s foundation, turn to an expert to evaluate your situation and help you find personalized solutions. Call California Foundation Works at 323-418-2239 to schedule a free concrete inspection and estimate.

      post and beam foundation damage

      Reasons Los Angeles Homes Need Foundation Inspections

      Foundation Crack

      Why Foundation Is Damaged?

      Foundation damage is a serious and costly problem for homeowners all over the country but it does affect certain regions the most. Unlike other regions, most of the Los Angeles neighborhoods are susceptible to foundation damage because of a combination of factors such as the poor drainage and types of expansive soil. Los Angeles Homeowners should get foundation inspections to prevent any underlying problems from getting worse. 

      Water Damage


      Los Angeles has been in a drought for a couple of years until recently when it received massive rain, and this is problematic for many house foundations in Los Angeles. During the drought, the clay soil around the house foundations lost most of their moisture hence the soil shrank and then after receiving rain the soil expands, therefore, pushing against the foundation and eventually cracking it. Foundation inspections will prevent this problem from getting worse once it’s detected early.

      Tremors and Earthquakes

      Most of Los Angeles residents are aware of the San Andreas fault running below their house foundation but they forget about the hundreds of low-intensity tremors and earthquakes that this area experiences on a daily basis. As a homeowner, you might not be able to see or notice any damage from these tremors and earthquakes but your foundation will be gradually damaged over time if certain precautions won’t be made to maintain it properly.

      Related : Retrofitting a Los Angeles Home for Earthquakes

      Bricks Crack

      Clay Soils

      The type of soil that a house is built on is very important because clay soils which can also be referred to as expansive soils because of their nature to expand and then shrink in the year cycle. This tendency to expand and shrink is what causes damage to the foundation by pushing against it or shrinking and leaving spaces around the foundation which causes it to settle.

      Contact a professional foundation contractor if you are a Los Angeles homeowner and haven’t yet had your foundation inspected.

      Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.

      How Landscaping Affects Your Foundation

      Surface Water

      Landscaping Can Cause Trouble

      Everybody wants to have an inviting home with beautiful curb appeal, but in the process of doing that you might end up damaging your foundation. Careful consideration has to be taken when it comes to landscaping in regards to foundation. However there are three main ways in which landscaping affects your foundation negatively.

      Drainage Gutter

      Trees and Shrubs Too Close To Your Foundation

      Plants are almost always an essential addition to your home when it comes to improving its curb appeal. Choosing the wrong kinds of plants or planting them too close to your foundation can be problematic hence the need to carefully choose the location and type of plant. Plants that have roots that grow horizontally instead of vertically will have their roots drying up all the moisture that surrounds the foundation and in some instances even penetrate the foundation walls, therefore, causing damage.

      Improper Drainage

      Having a well-functioning drainage system should be a priority whenever you think of improving your landscape. In the efforts of making the exterior of a home beautiful, homeowners tend to forget about the drainage system and this is bound to damage the foundation. Plant beds should slope away from the foundation and as a rule of thumb, water should always flow away from the house not towards it.

      Related :  Foundation Damage Caused by Trees

      Drainage Installation

      Not Watering Plants Frequently

      The plants and trees that are closest to your foundation need to be sufficiently watered. They need a steady supply of water to encourage the vertical growth of roots. In order to retain soil moisture, the soil needs to be well mulched so that any foundation problems are prevented.

      Contact a professional foundation contractor if you suspect that your foundation is getting affected by landscaping.

      Call California Foundation Works on to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.

      garage relocation

      Things To Put Into Consideration Before Garage Relocation

      Garage to relocate

      What To Consider

      There are many reasons as to why you might want to relocate your garage to a different location around your yard, maybe to prevent the garage from obstructing the view or just wanting to attach it to the house. However, there are certain things you need to put into consideration before considering garage location.  

      garage relocation


      One of the most important considerations you need to make when deciding on garage relocation is the access to the garage after it’s relocated. You’ll need a paved driveway and the size of the garage should dictate the width of the driveway. If it’s a two car garage then the width should be between 20 to 25 ft unlike 14 ft for a single car garage. Either concrete, asphalt or paving bricks can be used if you want a durable driveway.

      Related :  When Should You Resurface Your Driveway ?

      garage relocation


      Different cities have different code requirements and not adhering to those requirements might subject you to penalties. Once you know where you want to relocate your garage to, its time to go through the city codes to see what restrictions you have in moving that garage. The garage restrictions usually focus on the garage size, height, proximity of garage to other properties and the driveway construction such as the materials used to construct it or it’s size.

      Contact a professional garage relocation contractor who can also install a driveway and understands the garage relocation code requirements of your city.

      Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free garage relocation inspection and estimate.