If you’re a homeowner in California, there’s a good chance you already know about the benefits of seismic retrofitting. A seismic retrofit is a great way to provide existing structures (like businesses and homes) with more resistance to the seismic activity that comes with earthquakes. In most buildings, this process typically involves the strengthening of weak connections that can be found in roof to wall connections, shear walls, and continuity ties. While building codes in the past were much less stringent than today’s standards, it’s always a good idea to inspect a building that was constructed prior to 1998, as these structures were built prior to current codes and requirements set forth by the city.
While there are numerous types of structures that can benefit from a seismic retrofit, including building structures, bridges, and dams, in this article, we’ll take a closer look at some common building retrofits and how to decide when it’s time to call a engineer.
Concrete Tilt-Up and Reinforced Masonry (CMU)
These building structures usually require a seismic retrofit that includes adding roof to wall anchors and continuity ties throughout the building. Depending on the size and shape of the building being worked on, steel brace frames may be added to the structure as well. The main purpose of seismic retrofitting these buildings is to keep the roof from pulling apart during the event of an earthquake.
Unreinforced Masonry (URM)
A seismic retrofit for this kind of structure often requires adding roof to wall connections, continuity lines, and may even require a new plywood overlay at the roof. Some URMs can be strengthened with tube steel, gunite, or epoxy fiber waxing.
Concrete buildings that are two or more stories tall tend to exert a great deal of force due to their significant weight. Most seismic retrofits to these kinds of structures includes a combination of concrete shear walls, column fiber wrapping, steel collectors, and other types of strengthening systems.
If you live in California and you’re concerned that your commercial building, multi-unit housing development, or industrial space may be at risk the next time an earthquake occurs, contact the professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. today. Our engineers are registered in California, Oregon, Mississippi, and Washington, and they have all been certified by the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB). When you call our experts, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive and custom seismic retrofit design to safeguard your property investment and the people inside of it. Contact us today to learn more!
The Top Reasons To Retrofit Your Building
If you’re concerned about the health and strength of your property, calling a engineer to retrofit your building may be a great idea. Since California is the land of earthquakes, this is not something you want to lollygag on, as it could mean the difference between life and death. While there are many reasons to retrofit your structure, some of the most common include:
- Earthquake insurance often has a 20% deductible. Since retrofitting is used to reduce the damage caused by earthquakes, it is worth the investment.
- Homeowners want to ensure the safety of themselves and their families.
- Landlords want to avoid a future loss of income from a vacant or damaged building.
Just a little over a year ago, the city of Los Angeles began rolling out its new earthquake retrofit laws. In southern California alone, there are as many as 100,000 buildings facing retrofit mandates similar to those in Los Angeles. Today, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills are all in the process of adopting ordinances that require the earthquake retrofit of certain buildings.
How Has the Law Impacted Los Angeles?
According to officials with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, there are 13,500 buildings that have been identified as needing a retrofit. Of these, about 1,200 engineer plans have been submitted to the city, and 25 building retrofits have been completed. While these numbers may seem low, it’s important to remember that retrofitting can be a lengthy process that requires multiple steps before the actual construction can begin.
It’s also important to note that the city’s notices to comply with these new rules are still being distributed to property owners. This means that not everyone in Los Angeles has been contacted yet about their need to get a seismic retrofit. According to the law, owners of pre-1978 wood-framed, soft-story buildings have two years from the date they receive their notice to submit their engineering plans to the city. On the other hand, owners of applicable non-deductible structures have up to three years from the receipt of their notice to submit a completed checklist for review.
Why Does Retrofitting Take So Long?
While the retrofitting process can take some time, the good news is that the city of Los Angeles has set up a special unit to oversee and manage all retrofitting projects from start to finish. This helps to ensure that the people inspecting the property owner’s plans are up to date on the latest retrofitting procedures. The city officials of Los Angeles are clearly very interested in making LA a safer city for everyone.
How Do I Know What My Building Needs?
While seismic retrofitting can be done on a variety of structures, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to retrofitting. In fact, there’s a lot of science that goes into the process, and working with a engineer is the best way to get started. While two buildings standing side by side may appear identical from the outside, each structure has its own set of unique conditions. This includes the materials that were used to create the structure, the placement of windows and doors, and even the soil beneath the building.
For most soft-story structures, engineers may recommend installing steel frames to help prevent the building from swaying. This can lead to a complete collapse, which can have a devastating effect on your business and the people inside of it. At the end of the day, it’s always best to work with a engineer to help determine the weak points of your property.
Consulting Engineers Corp. in California
If you’re looking for engineering experts to help you retrofit your home or commercial property, contact the professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. today. With more than 47 years of experience in the industry, we’ve helped countless commercial, industrial, and multi-unit residential structures prepare for the devastating effects of seismic activity. If you’re interested in scheduling a personalized consultation with one of our experts, give us a call today!