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5 Signs You Need to Earthquake Retrofit Your Commercial Property

Downtown San Francisco

5 Signs You Need to Earthquake Retrofit Your Commercial Property

California property owners know that there is a near-constant risk of an earthquake. A quake can hit at any time and cause serious physical and financial damage. Many buildings were constructed before it was the norm to automatically include certain supportive structures to keep them intact during seismic activity. These buildings need to be retrofitted in order to be prepared for the next occurrence of an earthquake. Read on for five signs that your commercial property is in need of earthquake retrofitting.

1. It Was Built Before 1990

Most buildings constructed after 1990 were built with earthquake-resistant features. In many areas, these features are required by law. In San Francisco, for example, there are ordinances in place requiring that soft story and non-ductile concrete buildings receive retrofitting services. This includes wood-frame construction, two-stories and more, built prior to January 1st, 1978, with more than four units. However, many buildings constructed during the 1980s also need to be fortified.

Seismic failures can be catastrophic, especially in commercial areas where lots of people live and work. An earthquake can quickly cause a building to become displaced from its foundation and lead to collapsed walls and much more. If you are not sure if your property is retrofitted properly, contact a San Francisco retrofitter.

2. It is an Unreinforced Masonry Building

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (URMs) are very vulnerable to collapse during an earthquake. In fact, according to FEMA, these buildings are more at-risk of damage than any other type. This is because URMs contain masonry made from materials like brick and stone. They also often features heavy beams and columns. Their walls are usually weak and heavy, which contributes to their instability during earthquakes. They offer little-to-no ductility, or capacity to absorb energy, making it very difficult for them to remain standing with enough force. Property owners must ensure their buildings are equipped with the safety features necessary to promote a safe, habitable community.

3. It Has a Steel Frame

Many buildings constructed before the mid- ‘90s have steel frames that can easily fracture at their riveted or welded joints. This can cause damage to the connections that need to remain intact to prevent collapse. Fortunately, there are steel frame building retrofits that can be conducted to strengthen these buildings and ensure they are prepared for the next quake, such as adding dampers or a lateral system to strengthen the frame. If you are unsure what type of frame your building has, contact a Marin County earthquake retrofitting company ASAP.

4. It is a Tilt-Up

Tilt-up buildings are highly vulnerable to damage and collapse if built before the late ‘90s. Before this time, building codes were much laxer in important design standards. Tilt-up buildings are popular in California. They often have weak connections between roof and walls, leading to inappropriate support. Walls can easily separate from the roof during an earthquake, causing collapse. These buildings can be fortified with wall supports and strengthened roof connections.

5. It is Made of Non-Ductile Concrete

Many older commercial properties are made from non-ductile concrete. These buildings were constructed without the necessary elements intended to allow the concrete to bend and stretch without breaking during seismic activity. They have little lateral flexibility, making them brittle and susceptible to damage. Owners of non-ductile concrete buildings must invest in retrofitting to ensure their communities are safe in the event of an earthquake.

Contact a Bay Area Retrofit Service

If you are a commercial property owner in need of seismic retrofitting in Marin County, CA, contact Victor Construction & Engineering. We can help you assess your individual needs and plan all retrofitting services necessary for a safe commercial property. Call (415) 472-9144 to make an appointment.