EARTHQUAKE RETROFITTING: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How Can I Tell if My House Needs Seismic Retrofitting?
Homes built prior to 1980 likely need earthquake retrofitting. That’s because certain safety standards in design had not yet been adopted by the state of California. Lack of proper bracing and bolting of the structure to the foundation leaves these older homes susceptible to major damage and even collapse in the event of an earthquake.
Am I Required to Retrofit My Home?
In many cases, a retrofit may be required. Non-ductile concrete and soft story homes in particular may face a required seismic retrofit to bring them into compliance with current safety standards. Learn more about California earthquake retrofitting requirements. Ensuring that any home is retrofitted to current standards, however, provides greater safety, value, and may reduce insurance premiums.
What Are the Benefits of Seismic Retrofitting?
Retrofitting of homes prevents injury and saves lives. With reduced risk of collapse, or failure of heavy structures such as chimneys, occupants can sleep much more safely during seismic events.
Home-buyers are aware of the risk of earthquakes, too. Insuring that a home is retrofitted for safety, compliance, and mitigation of repair costs is a top question for many buyers and agents. In fact, retrofitted homes are estimated to hold nearly a 10% higher value than non-retrofitted homes.
In many cases, such as non-ductile concrete and soft-story homes, earthquake retrofitting is required by law.
Seismic retrofitting can provide not only safety and structural integrity during a large earthquake, but can prevent costly damages during minor seismic events. This saves you money on your home and likely reduces insurance costs as well. Furthermore, a structurally secure home will reduce damages to the valuables you have inside.
Do I Need to Retrofit if My House is Already Bolted?
As described above, bolting is just one element of an overall earthquake retrofit. Cripple wall strengthening, chimney fortification, and sloped site footing alteration can all be major considerations for improved safety and structural integrity of your home.
How Long Do Earthquake Retrofits Usually Take?
The duration of a retrofit varies depending upon the size and needs of the home. VCE provides all retrofitting repair and installation with minimal disruption to the homeowner during normal working hours.
Do I Need a Building Permit for Seismic Upgrades?
Yes. Professional contracting firms such as Victor Construction & Engineering (VCE) serving the Bay Area are required to procure a permit of alteration or repair to ensure quality of services.
What is the Earthquake Retrofitting Process?
VCE uses a scientific approach and mathematical formulae to determine your home’s exact needs. The strength of your structure and vulnerabilities are determined through visual inspection before our specialist makes specific recommendations.
Homes that remain unbolted to their foundation can sway drastically during an earthquake, causing expensive damage. Bolting improves the connections between your home’s frame and the foundation. This process involves drilling holes through the foundation’s sill plate and installing anchor bolts as required to improve strength and endurance during a seismic event.
Cripple walls are the short walls that rest on a home’s foundation. Collapse of cripple walls is a leading source of overall structural failure in the event of an earthquake. By bracing the cripple walls, VCE helps ensure their strength and performance during a seismic event.
If your home has a brick chimney, its failure may cause drastic damage to your home during an earthquake. Worse, their failure may be deadly. Our retrofitting professionals will assess your needs and, if necessary, add materials to strengthen your home’s chimney.
Footings support homes which may be built on a slope, which is very common in Marin County. They are vital to the overall stability of your home. Upon inspection, our professionals will ensure they meet or exceed current standards of durability in the event of an earthquake.
Can Earthquake Retrofitting Safeguard My Home?
According to FEMA, “seismic retrofitting of vulnerable structures is critical to reducing risk. It is important for protecting the lives and assets of building occupants.” In fact, entire communities are known to recover from even devastating earthquakes faster than communities of non-retrofitted homes. While major earthquakes can cause damage to any structure, retrofitted homes endure seismic events far better than homes that have not been retrofitted.
What Does the Foundation Do?
A building’s foundation holds it up and holds it together. It bears the load of the building, anchors it against natural forces, such as earthquakes, and protects it from moisture, which can cause serious damage. A strong foundation is made of quality materials, like steel and poured concrete. Older foundations are often made of stone, mortar, and brick, and tend to sustain damage more easily. A building’s foundation also creates a space for important mechanicals, like furnace equipment.