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These articles and other resources — many authored by our team members — can help you gain a deeper understanding of processes, trends, best practices and more related to RA&A’s core businesses.

Wheel StopsLet's Eliminate Parking 'Wheel Stops' at Busy Storefronts
Nationally, thousands of pedestrians annually suffer a wide range of trip and fall injuries at "wheel stops" at parking spaces. Where possible, designers and managers should strive to replace these potential hazards with structural bollards...
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California Building Standards CommissionAn Abridged History of the Origins and Empowerment of the California Building Standards Commission
The California Building Standards Commission is responsible for overseeing the ongoing development, amendment, adoption, and publication of the "building standards" provisions of the California Building Standards Code of the California Code of Regulations...
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Berkeley Balcony CollapseCalifornia's Series of Legislative Responses to the 2015 "Berkeley Balcony Collapse"
On June 16, 2015 in Berkeley, California, six people died and seven others were severely injured when the fourth-floor balcony on which they were standing collapsed due to sudden failure of cantilevered wood joists...
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The Perils of Poor Rim Joist Closure ConstructionThe Perils of Poor Rim Joist Closure Construction
Joseph Lstiburek, PhD, PE, of the Building Science Corporation, published a lengthy study that included performance comparisons of well-defined and poorly-defined air-pressure boundaries, including the wind tunnel effect produced by leaky rim joists (aka, band joists) at multistory buildings.
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Forensic FireComparable Aspects of Forensic Fire and Water Investigations
Those consultants who specialize in forensic water leakage investigations will recognize the closely comparable aspects of forensic fire investigations. The expert’s “inductive reasoning” process first produces a preliminary premise from specific observations and data, then, he/she “deductively” challenges this hypothesis with additional facts and relevant theory.
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CBSCAn Abridged History of the Statewide "California Building Code"
The International Code Council’s nationwide IBC and IFC models are now integrated consensus documents that serve the needs of CA’s building departments, construction and design professionals, and fire-protection officials. But how does the California Building Code and California Fire Code fit in?
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Shower tilesTiled Shower Walls – Are They Comparable to Clad Exterior Walls?
This article demonstrates how industry standard guidelines for the investigation and evaluation of water leakage at exterior walls could similarly be used to appraise leakage behavior properties and associated damage within ceramic-tiled shower walls.
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Waterproofing ErrorsHow to Rebuild Quickly After an All-Consuming Fire
The Tubbs fire in No. CA consumed everything over a 12-mile area in barely 3 hours. Discover how The Oaks at Fountaingrove was able to marshal resources and rebuild within a few months.
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Waterproofing Errors"Value-Engineered” Waterproofing Errors
Construction errors and oversights appear to increase whenever complex value-engineered redesigns are implemented. This case study explores how to avoid these costly mistakes and construction defects litigation.
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self drillingEducational Brief: Owner-Builders, Permitting, and Licensing Requirements in California
A summary of which types of relatively small construction activities do and do not require a permit in California.
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self drillingUse and Misuse of Wheel Stops at Parking Spaces in California
Hundreds (if not thousands) of individuals suffer a wide range of trip and fall injuries annually as wheel stops are potential tripping hazards. This brief includes general risk assessments and best practices to minimize the danger.
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self drillingImproper Use of Self-Drilling Tapping Screws in Stucco Cladding
This report examines the negative impact of stainless steel “self-drilling tapping screws” on a wood-framed school in Half Moon Bay, CA.
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Fire Stopping History of Code-Required “Fireblocking” at Concealed Spaces
Using multiple past editions of regional and national building codes, this article traces the history of the term “fireblocking” (previously referred to as “firestopping” and “bridging”) with regard to required fire-protection of concealed spaces in wood-framed buildings.
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Energy Efficiency Planning for 2017: Why Energy Efficiency Should Top Your List
Energy efficiency upgrades seem like a no-brainer… but having guidance from a trusted expert — like Ken Kosloff of Richard Avelar & Associates — is a clear advantage.
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Remediating Gap and SetbackStopWaste Business Efficiency Award 2016
On May 25, 2016, Richard Avelar & Associates was recognized for their excellence in energy efficiency. Besides saving community associates hundreds of thousands of dollars, they have become a top advocate of the Energy Upgrade California program.
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Remediating Gap and SetbackA Chronology of San Francisco Building Code Requirements for Horizontal Live Load Resistance at Railings:
1928 to 1990
When construction professionals evaluate the City's many historic buildings, they might mistakenly assume that the live load values prescribed in past editions of the model Uniform Building Code were promulgated in the early San Francisco Building Laws and successor editions of the San Francisco Building Code. This chronology explores a comparative review of the code sections relevant to Live Loads at Railings.
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Remediating Gap and SetbackHOA Reserve Planning: Is it Time for an Onsite Inspection?
Did you know that California law requires you to update your reserve study information annually in terms of budget, etc., but it also requires that a site visit be conducted every three years?
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Remediating Gap and SetbackOnsite Inspections for your HOA Reserve Study: What to Know
The purpose of an onsite, reserve-study component inspection is to verify whether the common area components are weathering according to the schedule that’s been set up. It’s not an exact science, but more of a broad brushstroke look at what the requirements are going to be in the future. Read more >
Remediating Gap and SetbackBox Extenders: An inexpensive alternative for HOA’s
Remediating minor deficiencies related to electrical outlets in fire-rated shared walls can be expensive for HOA’s. Bob Whitworth Jr., Construction Consultant, shares an inexpensive alternative to taping mud, fire caulking, Lowry pad and mud rings. Read more >
Energy Saving RebatesAn Abridged History of San Francisco's Bureau of Building Inspection.
Part I: 1944 to 1992
Written from the perspective of a building codes professional, this report details the dramatic storylines within the Bureau of Building Inspection by using Annual Reports from the Department of Public Works. It details the tense turf wars with the Fire Department, the origins and development of the City's current building codes and the ultimately-doomed, decades-long battle against State oversight and control. Read more >
Energy Saving RebatesAn Abridged History of San Francisco's Bureau of Building Inspection.
Part II: 1993 to 1994
In November 1994, City and Council of San Francisco voters approved a hotly contested Charter amendment that wrested BBI from the Department of Public Works to create a new Department of Building Inspection. This powerful and shrewd political maneuver led to BBI’s rapid demise. Read more >
Energy Saving RebatesEnergy Saving Rebates
Regardless of where you live in California, energy-saving rebates are still available for multi-family communities. Of course upgrades can result in substantially lower electric utility and gas bills, but rebates mean you're getting paid for the installation. Even newer residential communities are finding nuggets of energy savings gold but the only way to know for sure about your benefits, is to ask. Read more >
Madison HOA Case Study VideoStucco Adhesion- Preliminary Mock-Up Testing (Interface Magazine, Nov. 2015)
In order to explore a wide array of theories around "sticky stucco," RA&A completed 8 rounds of comparative testing over a 2-year period, and included 15 large and 16 small mock-up panels. In this article they describe their testing process, general observations, suppositions, analysis, findings, additional observations and recommendations. Read more >
Madison HOA Case Study VideoCase Study: Madison HOA, Walnut Creek, CA
There are many different reasons why an HOA might consider energy-saving upgrades and retrofits — but in California there are a large number of rebate programs available that serve as an extra incentive. In this video, you'll discover how Madison Homeowners Association, representing a 60-unit complex in Walnut Creek, CA, lowered their energy bill by nearly 78%, saving an estimated $17,000 a year. View video >
The KeysCombining Smart Energy Strategies Brings Multifamily Communities Substantial Savings
Multifamily projects are saving money and energy by combining energy-renewable systems — but they aren’t the only ones. This holistic approach offers the same benefits to similar facilities like country clubs, non-profit religious associations and apartment complexes looking for ways to reduce energy and lower utility bills. Read more >
Energy efficientYour Keys to An Energy Efficient Future!
A 43-year old, 792-unit condo complex had the insight and imagination to undertake a major energy retrofit project. Not only did they receive close to $600,000 in rebates, but their energy costs, operating and maintenance costs were reduced while a much-needed facelift translates into increased property value. Read more >
Stucco TestingStucco Adhesion Mockup Testing
After 2 years of testing and analysis, RA&A presents preliminary findings on ‘sticky stucco’ — a phenomenon where traditional plaster cement cladding has adhered to underlying polyolefin-faced flashing membranes, polymeric wraps or asphaltic building papers exposed below window sills. Read more >
Functional AestheticsFunctional Aesthetics — Balancing Technology and Aesthetic Qualities in
San Francisco
This article discusses the limitations of four common tests for evaluating moisture content or vapor emissions from concrete slabs before floor coverings are installed, and suggests multiple tests and an understanding of the slab’s design system are better indicators. Read more >
WheelchairUse and Misuse of Historic Building Codes for Injury Trip and Fall Claims
This article argues that when determining liability, investigators must conduct historical research to verify exactly what building codes were in force within that municipality when the structure was constructed or repaired. Read more >
Quantification of DefectsQuantification of Defects via Expert Extrapolations
These slides from a FEWA-Westcon symposium discuss how random statistical sampling can be used to disguise invalid arguments during defect litigation. Read more >

Quantitative SamplingQualitative Sampling vs. Statistical Analysis vs. Daubert
According to this article, qualitative and quantitative sampling are alternative methodologies that can be complementary strategies for investigative research that meets the Daubert standard for admissibility of expert testimony. Read more >
Leakage InvestigationAnatomy of a Leakage Investigation at a Concrete Floor Slab
Author Lonnie Haughton writes about a step-by-step methodology that can help investigators discern the cause-and-effect relationship between building characteristics and observed leakage. Read more >
GypsumThe Wet Season for Paper-Faced Gypsum
To minimize the mold and mildew damage caused by water intrusion on paper-faced gypsum — which often results in litigation — this article recommends either using non-paper-based products or form barriers, flashings and seals at vulnerable points. Read more >
TesterConcrete Slab-on-Grade Moisture Tests: How Useful Are the Testing Data When the Vapor Barrier May Be Ineffective?
This article discusses the limitations of four common tests for evaluating moisture content or vapor emissions from concrete slabs before floor coverings are installed, and suggests multiple tests and an understanding of the slab’s design system are better indicators. Read more >