If you live in California, you’re no stranger to earthquakes. While we all love the idea of a beautiful home, if the structure of your home wasn’t built to withstand natural calamities, you may be in trouble the next time an earthquake makes its way to town. If you feel your home may be subject to damage the next time a natural disaster strikes, you may want to look into seismic retrofitting to strengthen the basic structure of your home. In fact, recent studies suggest that retrofitted homes in areas that are hit hard by earthquakes tend to have little to no damage. If this is your first time hearing about seismic upgrades and earthquake retrofitting, there’s no need to fear. The professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. have come together to answer some common questions surrounding retrofitting and its benefits.

If you live in California and you’re concerned that your home may not withstand the next earthquake, contact the professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. today. Our experienced engineers are registered in the states of California, Oregon, Mississippi, and Washington, and they have all been nationally certified by the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB). When you work with our engineers, we’ll provide a comprehensive and custom seismic retrofit design for your structure so you’ll never have to worry about an earthquake causing damage to your building.

What Is Seismic Retrofitting?

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. During an earthquake, the strength of a home is truly put to the test as ground forces try to tear the home apart. If you live in a part of California that is prone to earthquakes, it’s critical to ensure that the frame of your home is strong enough to absorb an earthquake’s energy. Luckily, with the advances in engineering, the scientific community has paved the way for the development of new construction techniques to help homes and business withstand these harsh external elements. Some local and regional codes now require all new homes to meet these higher construction and safety standards.

Since many new and existing homes were constructed prior to the development of these newer code requirements, a retrofit may be necessary to increase the safety of your property. A retrofit can add bracing and reinforcement to strengthen the critical connections throughout your home, which can significantly lower your risk of damage.

How Can I Tell If My House Is In Need Of Earthquake Improvements?

A surefire way to tell if your house is in need of earthquake improvements is simply knowing when the structure was built. In California, practically any home built before the 1980s can use some improvement to reduce the risk of earthquake damage. Seismic failures often occur when a house is either displaced from its concrete foundation or when the walls below the main floor areas start to collapse. When a house is displaced from its foundation, the earthquake improvements would consist of strengthening the connections between the house and its foundation. On the other hand, when walls start to collapse, it’s important to supplement any existing connections to the foundation to strengthen the supporting walls.

If you’re not sure when your home was built, or you’re concerned about your home’s ability to withstand harsh external elements, it may be time to contact a professional. With the help of a thorough visual inspection by a trained and experienced earthquake specialist, you can determine how vulnerable your home is to earthquakes. At Consulting Engineers Corp., our engineering experts specialize in the retrofitting of commercial buildings, industrial spaces, and multi-unit housing developments. If you’re interested in learning more about our services, contact us today!

How Many Improvements Will Need To Be Made?

Depending on the time your home or business was constructed, a professional engineer will be able to help you decide what improvements must be made. Engineers have the ability to make calculated decisions based on certain elements surrounding your home. In order to reduce earthquake risk, our professionals recommend some of the following criteria when it comes to determining earthquake improvements for your home:

  • If an engineer recommends several different retrofitting improvements for your home, take the time to sit down and create a realistic schedule for them. Identify the weakest and most vulnerable conditions if your home and start with those improvements first. Perform a handful of improvements each year to ensure your home is well prepared to withstand the devastating effects of an earthquake.
  • Focus on improvements that are cost-effective and simple to install. Defer the more disruptive improvements for down the line.
  • If you planned on remodeling parts of your home, check to see if any seismic upgrades can be conducted on those areas.

We hope that this FAQ helped you to understand the importance of seismic upgrades and earthquake retrofitting. In part two of this series, we’ll look at a few more common questions surrounding seismic upgrades for your home or business.

At Consulting Engineers Corp., we’re proud to be California’s Top Rated Local® design experts when it comes to retrofitting. With more than 47 years of industry experience, we’ve worked on countless commercial, industrial, and multi-unit residential projects and we are dedicated to your complete satisfaction. If you’re interested in learning more about our services, contact our team of engineers today to schedule a consultation!