Living in California comes with many benefits, including gorgeous weather all year round. Unfortunately, many residents have experienced the devastating effects of hurricanes because their home wasn’t properly constructed to withstand seismic activity and ground motion. In part one of this series, we discussed some common questions surrounding seismic upgrades and earthquake retrofitting. In part two, we’ll dive into a few more common questions about seismic retrofitting and how it can benefit your home.

If you’re concerned that your home will not stand up to natural calamities and disasters, it may be time to contact a engineer. At Consulting Engineers Corp., we’ve helped hundreds of homeowners and business owners improve the structure of their building through customized retrofitting solutions. With more than 47 years of experience, we’ve worked on a number of commercial, industrial, and multi-unit residential projects throughout the great state of California and beyond. If you’re interested in learning more about our design services, contact our professionals today!

Am I Living In An Area That Is Prone To Earthquakes?

If you live in California, there’s a good chance you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes. There are specific geographic areas that are considered to be high seismic regions. The easiest way to find out if you live in a high seismic area is to call your local building department and ask if you are in Seismic Zone 3 or 4 or in one of the Seismic Design Categories D, E, or F.

How Can An Earthquake Impact My Home?

Before you work with a engineer on the seismic upgrades for your home, it’s important to understand the basic principles of home construction and how earthquakes can impact your home. During an earthquake, your home will experience two unique forces: lateral forces and uplift forces. Lateral forces, also known as shear forces, are horizontal forces that result in back and forth (or side to side) movement. Lateral forces can shake your house and weaken its frame, which can cause the structure to slide off of its foundation. Uplift forces are vertical forces that result from up and down movement. They can cause your home to overturn and even lift off of the foundation.

Will Seismic Upgrades Follow The Standards of The Building Code?

One question our engineers receive on a daily basis is, “Will the seismic upgrades follow the standard building codes for my home?” The answer to this question is that there is no current code in place for retrofitting jobs. Since homes tend to differ greatly in construction, style, and seismic vulnerability, it is not wise to apply the same standards across different homes. At Consulting Engineers Corp., we’ve found that a customized plan is the most efficient solution when it comes to accommodating any given retrofitting project.

What Does A Home Inspection From An Engineer Look Like?

Once a engineer has determined that there is a potential need to retrofit your home or commercial property, they will likely conduct an inspection to evaluate the integrity of your property. It’s important to note that since home retrofits are not mandatory, building departments often do not require the use of an engineer, architect, or licensed contractor as long as your home falls within certain parameters. Your unique building code will provide construction details for retrofitting the supporting perimeter walls of your home. When you work with a licensed contractor, they will access your crawl space and evaluate the following items:

  • Is the top of the crawl space perimeter wall properly attached to the floor system?
  • Are the crawl space perimeter walls too tall for the property?
  • Are the interior columns of the building properly attached to the beams they are supporting?

What Are The Benefits of Seismic Retrofitting?

If you’re still on the fence about having your home inspected for seismic retrofitting improvements, it’s important to understand the many benefits of doing so. Let’s take a look at the benefits of this home improvement method below:

  • The marketability of your building will be improved. If you plan on selling your residential or commercial property in the future, retrofitting your building may be an excellent selling point for you. Buyers are very attracted to the security that seismic upgrades provide, which can help you to sell your property at a quicker pace.
  • Your risk of injury and legal litigation is significantly reduced. Property owners can lose a substantial amount of money if it is proven that they were aware of work on a building and they had no action in place to correct the issues. While no amount of insurance coverage will help you in a case against negligence, a thorough seismic retrofit can give you peace of mind and asset protection.
  • Earthquake coverage can be reduced with a few simple upgrades. A lower coverage cap on your insurance policy can also help to reduce premiums.

We hope that this FAQ has been helpful to your understanding of seismic upgrades and earthquake retrofitting. If you live in California and you’re concerned that your home is not equipped to handle the seismic movement of a hurricane, contact one of the professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. today. Our family-owned and operated engineering firm has been serving property owners of California with unparallelled analysis and design services since 1970. Over the years, we’ve grown in our knowledge and experience and we are completely dedicated to your satisfaction.