Your Home Improvements



We have a property where there is water coming into the crawl space from the hillsides, at least that’s what we think.

The lower bonus room and garage that is below, have been completely under water during the rains. We’ve got a mess on our hands.

I’ve sent you an abundance of photos of the whole property, I’m hoping you can help us with resolving this issue. We are at a complete loss and don’t know where to turn.

There is damage to 11 homes; it’s unbelievable and we want to make sure the HOA does their due diligence in resolving this properly.

-Andrew E.


Without being on site to see this firsthand and only seeing it through your photos and details, I can do my best.

It sounds and looks like a very similar situation that I had out on a property in Woodland Hills, about 12-15 years ago.

Essentially what we did to solve the water issue there was to install sump pumps in pre-manufactured drums (I can give you a recommendation if you need it), ran electrical circuits, re graded the area and re-directed the water.

We, of course, started by pulling necessary electrical and plumbing permits with the city, and just before the stem wall we excavated down to fit what was about a 30-gallon drum with the pump built in.

This had the holes for leech beds where you can have the water gravity feed from the French drains above, to the pump bed and then the pumps will discharge the water to your common area drains.

This is a very costly scope of work, but it is necessary to get that water away from these homes, sooner rather than later. It is costly due to it being so labor intensive, plus the cost of the prefab equipment.

The situation doesn’t require an engineer, however. If you have someone that can guide you that may have some experience with pitch and flow, I’d recommend using their knowledge.

You’ve got waterproofing that needs to be done on the stem wall and there are a few other things that I’d recommend. With all that needs to be done, you may want to hire a licensed and insured contractor to tackle this for you, and ultimately your BOD may be more comfortable with an engineer’s report due to the amount of work needing to be done.

Prior to all of this commencing, at the very least, I’d get fans in there to dry out this area and help prevent any mold growth. This is a non-living area but it is still very important to keep it free of mold growth. Let me know if you need leads on contractors that can handle this for you. Good luck.


I live in Canyon Country in a home that has a bit of a Victorian look so the roof has a bit of curvature to it.

I am very handy and have noted that the plywood on the underside of the curve, has fractured. I believe it is from being forced to take the shape of the roof and believe that over the years, the plywood has come apart.

My question to you is what kind of plywood is best for this application, where I can get it to take the shape (of the curve), yet keep the strength and integrity of what it is there for? I went to the big box stores and nobody could help me. At a lumber yard they were telling me to use thinner plywood and put on 3 or 4 layers but that sounded far-fetched to me. Can you enlighten me on what I may use on this?

-John J.


There is such a product, it’s called, “whacky wood.” It’s a thinner plywood that is manufactured differently than a normal ply.

Normally on a piece of 3-layer ply, the two outer layers run in one direction and the middle layer runs opposite. This gives it strength.

On the whacky wood it is, first, slightly thinner and then, depending on your application, you can get the grain laid in either direction of the standard size piece. With all layers going in one direction, it gives you the flexibility to make bends that are needed in applications such as yours.

Typically you’ll need two sheets per area and you’ll need to order this custom from your lumber yard, but this is definitely your answer and will work well for you. Good luck with this project.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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