Foundation Care Tips- Simple ways to help keep you level

All homeowners dread the day when they will need to have their foundation repaired, but did you know that there are ways to prevent foundation problems? It’s actually not all that difficult either. Save some money and put-off the day when you’ll have to repair your unlevel home.

Before you know how care for your foundation, you need to understand why foundation problems occur in the first place. Foundation problems are generally caused by water developing in uneven amounts under the foundation structure. Changes in the moisture levels of the soil can cause it to shrink when dry and expand when wet causing the house to move up and down. When this change in moisture is uneven, the house can become damaged, twisted or strained.

The key is to keep the moisture levels under the house consistent. Here are some ways you can keep your moisture consistent and your house level:

  1. Get rid of standing water. This can be caused by gutters and down spouts when they aren’t directed away from the house by a splash block. Even those of us in the dry state of Texas have to worry about this from time to time.
  2. Water your house. When you water your lawn and garden, make sure to water the area around your house evenly. This requires balance. During our hot Texas dry seasons, we have to soak the perimeter of our homes thoroughly without over-watering. However, keep in mind that certain areas of your perimeter will need more water than others. This is often because the area is more exposed to the sun.
  3. Lawn Care! A healthy lawn is vital to preventing evaporation of water from the soil and can help to keep consistent moisture levels in the winter.
  4. Keep trees away from the house. The general rule is to plant them as far away as they are tall (or as tall as they are expected to grow). Trees have extensive root systems that need a lot of water. They absorb large amounts of water from the soil which can make the area around the tree dryer. If you already have a tree that is too close to the house, try and keep it pruned. This will keep it from growing excessively and interfering with your home’s moisture consistency levels.

Foundation maintenance can keep you from having to make costly repairs. If you have any questions about foundation care or know you may need some foundation help, call us at The Moore Group. We’ll answer your questions and engineer a new foundation if needed.

Get the Most out of Your Civil Engineer

When you start a business or even add a new branch to your existing business, you have a lot to think about and a cornucopia of decisions to make. How will you find key employees? Who will be your Clients and how will you find them? You also have to answer mundane questions such as “Which light bulb should you use since there are going to be thousands of them in the building?”

Or, when you create the website for your new company, what font should you use on the menus? Forest green or Kelly green?

I can’t help you a lot when it comes to those vital decisions (though I can tell you that you should NEVER use Comic Sans on a menu). I can, however, tell you about how choosing a civil engineer can make or break your business and I can bet with all of those other decisions, that one may not have occurred to you.

Many businesses just use the engineer their architect or investor suggests and usually whoever suggests the engineer is getting something out of it. Great for them, but not necessarily great for you. Why are civil engineers important?

If you find out about problems mid-way through your project, or worse, after your project is finished, it can cost you thousands of dollars to fix the problem. An experienced engineer knows what things need to be taken into account to preempt such costly issues. An engineer can perform a feasibility study to determine if the site where you have chosen to build your facility can meet city requirements for site area. An engineer must take into account things like permitting, utilities, parking, drainage, growth, erosion and flooding.

Another problem that can pop up is that of permitting. A good engineer is an expert at getting you the permitting for your project. Without that permitting, your project could fail without ever even getting started. A good engineer will have good relationships with the people in charge of approving your permit. Many types of permits must be signed and sealed by an engineer, or the permit will not be issued.

A good engineer will do more than give you a drawing or a signature. The best civil engineers will make sure your project is a success and try to save you money long term. So don’t always go with the guy your architect hands over to you. Do research to see if the engineer has some good reviews or testimonials. Look at that engineers previous projects. Do they have experience working with a project similar to yours?

If you are looking to start a new development project, make sure you choose the right engineer. It could mean the difference between success and failure for your project.

Choose a Consultant, not just an Engineer

We at TMG are Development Consultants as well as engineers. We do much more than prepare drawings of your improvements. We act as your consultant for land planning and find the highest, best use for your property. We know the local authorities who will give approval to your project. We represent you at public hearings before Boards and Commissions. We are your advocate with review staff and inspectors. We prepare construction contracts, conduct bidding and provide Construction administration. We aggressively pursue the success of your project in all phases.

You need an engineer who knows the people who grant the entitlements and permits and is familiar with the local rules for development. Relationships with everyone from review staff to members of Boards and Commissions can make your project more successful. TMG has been consulting on development projects in Austin and Central Texas for nearly 30 years. We know the people who make the regulatory decisions, and we have good relationships with them. We also know the rules for development, and how to use them for your best advantage.

When you are expanding your business facilities or building a new facility, it is important to choose a consultant who has planned and permitted site plans for businesses in the past. TMG has provided turn-key services for commercial development on all types of projects, including retail, restaurants, offices, warehouses, condos and multi-family residential.

Your development consultant needs to determine project issues at the beginning of a project, not when you are in the middle of the project. Finding out about a problem in the middle of a project can cost you money. If you know about the project issues to begin with, they can be planned for and the cost can be reduced. We at TMG make it part of every project to assess the potential project problems or issues prior to beginning design work. We report these issues to our clients so that an informed decision can be made on how to proceed.

MUD not mud and Other Engineering Acronyms

When I started working for The Moore Group, a civil engineering firm in Austin,
I knew very little about engineering. I quickly learned a lot, but as I read
through our everyday documents I realized there were a lot of acronyms I didn’t
understand.

One commonly used one is MUD or Municipal Utility District. Not only did I not
know that it wasn’t talking about wet dirt, but I had no idea what it involved. I
had a few different theories and most of them ended with the visual of a building
sinking in gloppy brown muck because the engineer hadn’t planned for mud.
However, MUD has nothing to do with mud. A Municipal Utility District or MUD,
is a political subdivision with special powers (like The Wonder Twins) to provide
water, waste-water and drainage services within its jurisdiction. In other words,
when an area outside of a city doesn’t have a way to provide the normal water
and drainage services, the developer can use the special powers of MUD to
build these. Then, when enough people actually start living in the area the MUD
can start to collect taxes and pay the developer back for their investment. The
Powers of MUD unite!

When I was researching MUDs, I ran across a few other acronyms like ETJ
which I equated to Extra Terrestrial Junk and WCID (no clue on that one).
An ETJ is actually an Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (I was close). This just has to do
with a government legally taking control of areas that are normally outside of their
boundaries. Any authority can claim an ETJ, but the larger authority (like that of
a city) has to get the consent of the authority of the smaller area (like a smaller
outside town) .

WCID is very closely related to MUD. It stands for Water Control and
Improvement District. WCID was originally designed in 1925 for irrigation
purposes but later took on the extensive powers (more like Superman) for
domestic and commercial water supply, sewage disposal, drainage, reclamation
and conservation. This happened around 1950 due to metropolitan areas
growing too big and too quick. The city services couldn’t keep up with the water
demands. The developer couldn’t pay for it and if attached to the price of a
home, the chances of someone buying it would decrease substantially. So the
developer used a WCID and thus could again be reimbursed for the investment
by the WCID, which gets the funds by taxing the District’s residents.

I understand that typing out “Water Control and Improvement District” 100 times
could get annoying. However, I also understand that most people are going to
do the same thing I did and relate the acronym to something totally unrelated. So
here’s hoping the next time you see ETJ, you think Extraterritorial Jurisdiction,
not Extra Terrestrial Junk.

Development in Central Texas is Resuming

We are starting to see some activity in the form of Land Development in the Austin area and in Central Texas. Some of our Clients that have not been active, or have not been able to obtain financing, have called us to discuss new development projects. We don’t know if this is just a busy period that will end soon, or if we are seeing the beginning of a new, long term growth cycle. All signs point to the need for more housing and infrastructure to accommodate the growing population.

Fire Protection is an Important Part of a Commercial Development

We are in the process of completing an office-warehouse development. The location of the office warehouse works well for the Owner, but the water system that serves the area is substandard. This caused some concern when we considered how Fire Protection would be provided.

Fortunately, we had recently completed a fire protection system for a commercial development just next door. We had the solution for Fire Protection at this site. We could either build a similar system to the one next door, or we could make a deal with the neighbors to share the existing system we had designed.

Initially the water utility reviewer wanted a separate system for this site. However, we met with the local Fire Department and got their approval to share the system next door. With the letter from the Fire Department in hand, we obtained approval for our client, without having to build a new Fire Protection system.

Montechino – A Mixed-Use Land Development on Lake Travis

We at The Moore Group are pleased to announce that we have been retained to provide engineering design, surveying, entitlements and permitting for Montechino on Lake Travis. The owner of Montechino is a long time client of The Moore Group. He has called on us once again to make land development happen. We will be platting a new Section of Single Family lots and designing and permitting a new Marina. More will be posted on the Montechino project as we proceed.

Mini Storage Projects

There are several unique qualities of  Mini Storage Projects that engineers and planners must be aware of.  One is access.  We must lay out the project using the minimum amount of pavement necessary, while still providing adequate access to the facility.   We at The Moore Group are now working on two mini-storage facilities on opposite sides of Austin, Texas.  It’s funny how projects seem to come in groups.  I recently posted “We are Office-Warehouses”….. Now I could say “We are Mini Storage facilities !!!!!”

 

Office-Warehouses are Us

We recently prepared development plans for an Office-Warehouse in North Austin.  We also provided construction services to the Owner, including Contract Preparation, Bidding, Assistance with Selection of a Contractor and Construction Administration.  That project was built and completed last year.  Now, some local landowners want to duplicate what their neighbor did.

The landowner next door has retained us to design and build an Office-Warehouse for him as well.  The plans are complete and the City of Austin is reviewing the Site Development Permit application.  We will be turning dirt on this one soon!

Our New Project on Lake Austin, “Laguna Terrera”, is Under Construction!

It is great to see a project that you have drawn on paper become a reality.  Laguna Terrera is a high-end residential project located on Lake Austin near the community of West Lake Hills.  Our survey crew is on-site now providing locations for pilings.  Soon the utilities will be constructed.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress!

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