If you live in California or in another earthquake-prone area, especially around the Pacific “ring of fire,” then it’s wise to ensure that your home or other structure is built in accordance with the latest earthquake building codes. Of course, many older homes were built to more relaxed standards and these properties are usually exempt from being required to perform seismic retrofitting. But seismic or earthquake retrofitting for homes can quite literally be a lifesaver and a home saver too! So in today’s article from Mansions & Estates International founder and CEO Scott Binsack, we’ll explore what earthquake retrofitting entails and why it’s recommended.
What is Earthquake Retrofitting?
Earthquake retrofitting is the practice of altering a home in a manner that makes it more resistant to collapse and damage in the event of an earthquake.
In many homes, the shaking action that occurs during an earthquake can literally rip a home off its foundation, while causing other structural elements to pull apart, resulting in catastrophic damage.
Seismic retrofitting works to achieve a two primary objectives which have been found to improve a building’s performance in an earthquake:
- Bracing areas that are especially prone to collapse and adding structural redundancy that will allow the home to remain standing even if one element is severely damaged; and
- Reinforcing the connection between various elements of the home, such as the wood frame and the foundation or the roof and the underlying structure. This is usually achieved with pins that are run through the wood frame and into the concrete foundation so the structure remains intact.
These two measures dramatically improve a building’s performance in an earthquake. In some larger commercial buildings, the retrofitting process is even more complex. Retrofitters can even place the building atop “sliders” that allow the building to move slightly instead of shearing and toppling.
Which Homes Benefit from Earthquake Retrofitting?
Any home that has not been built to meet or exceed the current earthquake standards can benefit from seismic retrofitting. The homes that are prone to the most damage are those constructed prior to the 1980s, so these properties stand to see a rather dramatic benefit.
In California, many of homes built before the 1980s were constructed with a wood frame that is situated atop a small crawlspace, with a concrete slab foundation. Therefore, there is a gap between the wood frame and the foundation and the wood frame is typically not bolted to the concrete pad.
When an earthquake strikes, the wooden frame shears off the underlying concrete slab. In other words, the house basically slides or falls off the foundation, resulting in what is usually irreparable damage.
Turn to Construction Consultant Scott Binsack at Mansions & Estates International
If you’re seeking to improve your home’s performance in the event of an earthquake with seismic retrofitting, don’t forget to turn to a construction consultant like “Scott Binsack” of Mansions & Estates International. Scott will serve as a liaison between you, the client and the architect, contractor and craftsmen. Your building consultant can serve as your biggest advocate, while also ensuring that the job is completed in a manner that reflects your expectations and needs.
So if you’re ready to build a new home, turn to Scott Binsack, founder and CEO of Mansions & Estates International, a firm that’s committed to providing in-depth construction consulting solutions to clients worldwide. Call 800.956.3855.