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Dear Dale:

Search Is On for a Contractor Who Puts Repairs in Concrete

September 29, 1985|DALE BALDWIN

Question: How does one repair a cement home? The outside window areas have chunks that are breaking off and exposing wire and screws. This property is in the South Bay area only one block from the ocean. The home was built in 1921 and under the circumstances has stood the test of time quite well. Stucco contractors don't seem to know about concrete repair.

Answer: When you say "concrete house" to anyone, they think they've either misunderstood you or you don't know the difference between concrete and stucco. Indeed, during the '20s and '30s, concrete houses were not so uncommon. But I guess to be on the safe side, I must question whether your house is actually concrete, because you mention "wire" being exposed. If the house is concrete, it is likely that reinforcement rods would be exposed rather than wire.

There are a couple of ways you might go, depending upon the extent of the deterioration. If it is extensive, you may want to call in a concrete consultant or materials testing firm to determine the type of concrete failure the house is experiencing. While the consultant is not likely to do the work or repair, he should be able to tell you what type of repairs are necessary and how extensive and expensive they are likely to be. While we don't recommend persons or firms in this column, here are three names of consultant firms, any one of which you might wish to contact: Ramon Gutierrez, Twining Laboratories, P. O. Box 47, Long Beach, Calif. 90801; R.G. Osborne, a materials consultant in Manhattan Beach; Smith-Emery, 781 E. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles 90021.Hourly rates for a consulting service vary quite a lot, and some firms charge portal to portal and specify a minimum number of hours, so be sure to ask. If Osborne is in your area (and only if it's close), he indicated that he might stop by just to take a look at your house at no charge.

It is important to find the cause of the concrete failure. You wouldn't want to spend money for repairs of window sills, etc., only to find the entire house is suffering from the same type of failure. In other words, a bandage on the knee won't cure a broken leg.

In the Yellow Pages, look under the classification "concrete contractors," where you'll find a number of firms that do concrete repair work. Unfortunately for you, many of these firms are interested only in large construction or repair jobs. There is at least one firm in the South Bay area, however, that reports it will come to your home and give you an estimate for repairs. It is Rockwell Concrete Construction Inc., 28441 Highridge Road, Rolling Hills Estates. There may be others if you check.

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