If you live in earthquake country, you already know how devastating an earthquake can be to your home or business. Without the proper support, your home may suffer debilitating damages that can only be corrected through the complete rebuild of your structure. Luckily, there are earthquake strengthening upgrades that you can apply to your home to keep it from sliding off of its foundation in the event of a quake. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some popular retrofitting methods you should consider for your home.
If you live in California and you’re concerned your home may not be able to withstand the strong forces of an earthquake, contact the professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. today. As registered engineers in the states of California, Oregon, Mississippi, and Washington, all of our engineers are certified by the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB). If you are the owner or facility manager of a building that needs to become compliant with the current seismic preparedness codes for structures, reach out to our experts in Santa Clara today.
Common Retrofitting Methods
In the state of California, many residential and commercial sellers are required to fill out a checklist specifying whether earthquake strengthening measures have been installed. Many homeowners opt for earthquake insurance, which can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars a year. If you take the steps to have your home or business retrofitted by a professional, you could end up saving five percent each year on your premiums. As we mentioned above, there are a few different retrofitting methods that you can consider for your property. Let’s take a look at each of them below.
If you live along the shoreline or your home sits at a lower elevation than most, you may want to consider elevating your home to prevent floodwaters from reaching your living areas. As an effective retrofitting method, the goal of the elevation process is to raise the lowest floor in your home to or above the Design Flood Elevation or DFE. You can achieve this by hiring a engineer to elevate your entire home, including the floor, or by leaving the home in its existing position and constructing a new raised floor. The method you use will largely depend on your home’s construction type, foundation type, and flooding conditions.
During the elevation process, most homes are separated from their foundations and raised on hydraulic jacks. The structures are held by temporary supports while a new or extended foundation is carefully constructed below. This method tends to work extremely well for homes that were originally built on a basement, crawlspace, and open foundation.
Another way to retrofit your home is through a method known as relocation. This involves moving your home to high ground, outside of the flood hazard area. Relocating a home involves the process of detaching it from its original foundation, raising it with jacks, and placing it on a wheeled vehicle to be delivered to the new site. The original foundation will be demolished and a new foundation will be built on the new plot of land. Relocation can be particularly appropriate in areas where the flood hazard is severe, such as areas where flood conditions can be characterized by one or more of the following:
- Deep water
- Wave action
- High-velocity flow
- High potential for debris
- Rapid rates of rise and fall
If you live in a state that is prone to earthquakes like California, you may want to consider seismic retrofitting for your home. Seismic retrofitting can be defined as the modification of existing structures to make them more resistant to seismic activity, ground motion, or soil failure due to earthquakes. The horizontal and lateral motion of an earthquake can cause serious damage to the structure of your property unless your building is prepared. In order to keep a house from falling off of its foundation during an earthquake, seismic retrofit is used to strengthen three different areas of the home. Your engineer will work to:
- Brace the cripple walls with plywood
- Bolt the braced crippled walls to your home’s foundation
- Attach the floor of your home to the braced cripple walls
At Consulting Engineers Corp., we’re proud to be a leading provider of retrofitting for commercial buildings, industrial spaces, and multi-unit housing developments throughout California. When you contact one of our engineers, we’ll work with you to provide a comprehensive and custom seismic retrofit design to ensure your home is protected in the event of an earthquake.
Another way to retrofit your home against flood or water damage is to invest in flood protection barriers. Levees and floodwalls are common types of barriers that can be used to protect your home, however an experienced engineer will be able to recommend the best methods of defense for your home. It’s important to note that special design considerations are necessary when levees or floodwalls are built to protect a home with a basement. While the surface water is kept from coming into contact with the home, the soil below the levee or floodwall around the structure can become saturated. This resulting pressure on the basement walls and floor can cause them to crack, buckle, or collapse.
If you live in California and you’re afraid that your home or business may not withstand the next earthquake or natural disaster, contact the experts at Consulting Engineers Corp. for a consultation!