Your Home Improvements


Hi Robert,

We are glad you are back!

Our cement patio is getting cracks.

First they were hairline, now one area is raised one-quarter inch. At one time, we had a tree several feet from the patio but we had it removed years ago.

When our yard was very wet after the rains this year, I dug down 18 inches to see if I could find roots, and I found a dead one.

Our neighbors have a tree about six feet from our patio edge, maybe it could be roots from that tree.

What do you suggest? Should we hire someone to come in and dig down to kill the roots? Thanks for any advice you can give us! Barbara (Just between us, my husband and I are over 80.)



If you don’t have the ability to forward photos I’ll give you the following information.

It could be a neighboring tree that’s causing this lifting, given that you had your tree removed some time back. If you do have the roots traced to your neighbor’s tree, notify them and they may have to remove it if it is doing damage.

Hopefully you have a great neighbor as these situations can be tricky sometimes.

If it’s not their tree, then it could be expansive soil doing this lifting. In Santa Clarita a lot of clay soil has been used over the years that is causing these situations. What happens is that the clay gets wet and causes expansion causing this movement.

I hope this helps you find the problem. If you have any other questions, please feel free to write back in.


I live in Studio City and hope you’ll answer my questions anyway. My son lives in the area and I get The Signal whenever I’m out, so that I can read your article.

I am the President of a BOD on a six unit building and we want to add a back door to each of the units. We want a second exit for each unit and during our current reconstruct we’d like to add this work.

I am mixed on whether or not we need to add permits for this extra work, since we already have permits for the contractor being on the property and this is just cutting a hole in the wall.



If you are going through major reconstruct it’s likely that you have a general contractor lined up. This is something that they can coordinate for you, and the first thing you’ll need to do is have an architect do some drawings. They will possibly include the need for calculations depending on how many stories your building is.

The structural engineer, or if capable, the architect, will need to assure that not only the downward forces but the lateral forces are considered with what you want to do. It isn’t just as simple as cutting holes and hanging doors.

We live in an earthquake zone and all issues need to be considered when modifying the structure of a building, especially if this is shear wall on your building. These considerations also include fire codes; there are rules about exits that have to do with fire so this is also a great reason to have this done through the proper channels.

Once you have the calculations and drawings completed, then the city will need to be involved for approval. All of this can be handled through your general contractor, if you wish, as they deal with this type of thing on a daily basis and usually can expedite the city portion as they know the ins and outs and what the city requires.

The other thing to consider as an excellent reason, aside from safety, is that when the time comes that the units may be sold, any structural changes will need to be disclosed and you’ll be required to state whether or not permits were obtained. If not, this could lead to great delays and major problems at the time of sale. Good luck on this project.


I am a new BOD member here in Santa Clarita where we have subterranean garage parking.

Being new on the BOD I’m not aware of all of the do’s and don’ts, so I am seeking your advice please.

Our plumbing has metal pipes for the sewer and it also has black plastic pipe that is hanging, which looks like (for lack of a better term) they have big bellies/bubbles on them.

I’m wondering if having a mix of pipe types is proper, and if there is any risk in this?

Jim L.


No, absolutely not, the pipes in a garage inserted overhead like this are to be metal pipes, and there are many reasons for this – one major reason is fire hazard.

In a fire the gases that would be emitted from burning plastic are toxic. In the ground you can mix pipes, but, overhead in a parking garage where a fire hazard is a concern, it must be metal so this all of this needs to be switched out.

Be sure that your BOD hires a licensed and insured plumbing contractor and that they put a hangar at each connection point as well as one in the middle of the pipe. This means that for every 10 feet of pipe, there should be three hangars to support this heavy pipe adequately. Good luck to you.

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].

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS