CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE RETROFITTING REQUIREMENTS
The risk posed by earthquakes in California remains very high. The probability of an earthquake in Marin County of 5.0 magnitude or greater in the next 50 years is 91%. Worse, the probability of a very damaging earthquake of a 6.1 magnitude or greater lies at nearly 70%. California’s seismic activity can create more than minor inconvenience or minor damage. The resulting earthquakes can create permanent structural damage leaving homes and buildings unsafe. Worse, they can cause complete structural failure and resulting loss of property and even life.
Retrofitted structures, on the other hand, have endured far better than their non-retrofitted counterparts. Earthquake retrofitting helps preserve the structural integrity of commercial and non-commercial structures alike, saving countless dollars in repairs and insurance costs. More importantly, earthquake retrofitting saves lives. For these reasons and more, California has instituted statewide seismic ordinances.
What is a Seismic Ordinance?
California’s seismic ordinances are laws that take into account the poor performance of certain building types in recent decades during an earthquake. Dating back to 1987, the Seismic Safety Commission continues to assess damage threats posed by earthquakes in California. The resulting seismic ordinances address these threats through laws that require assessment and retrofitting of certain structure types to better withstand seismic events.
Mandatory evaluation and structural improvements to buildings of certain types are required by these ordinances to reduce damage and loss of life in the event of forthcoming earthquakes.
Which Buildings are Included?
Non-ductile concrete refers to most concrete buildings designed or constructed prior to the 1976 Uniform Building Code. These older buildings likely lack the steel reinforcement required of beams, columns, and joints to withstand seismic events. This lack of reinforcement leaves them particularly vulnerable to major damage and even collapse in the event of an earthquake.
Soft-story structures also pose a particular risk during seismic events. These are multistory, wood-frame buildings where one level lacks sufficient support – as through a shear wall – to sustain unexpected lateral force, such as the sideways motion experienced during an earthquake. The results can be devastating. The most often impacted structures include parking garages, units with multiple garages, and commercial buildings with large glass fronts.
California Earthquake Retrofitting Compliance
Seismic ordinance compliance in California is required for the safety and well-being of its residents and guests. Assessment and potential retrofitting of non-ductile concrete and soft-story is required by law in many cases for the safety and well-being of the community. If retrofitting is determined as the necessary step taken for compliance, it will strengthen your structure’s overall connection between the foundation and the frame. The result is minimized property damage and loss of life.
Do you believe your California home or commercial property may require earthquake retrofitting to meet current safety standards in the San Francisco area? Contact VCE today. We offer professional foundation repair and strengthening services throughout Marin County. Call us at 415-472-9144 to make an appointment.