4 Important Questions About an Earthquake Retrofit in California

Older buildings throughout the state of California are vulnerable to damage from earthquakes. Seismic ordinances at some of the cites dictate earthquake retrofit standards and measures to provide for public safety as well as protection of private property. Is your building in compliance with earthquake safety regulations?

As managers and property owners embark on the process of earthquake retrofitting throughout cities in California, there are a few questions that frequently crop up. Here are some brief answers for common concerns:

Can I Make My Building Earthquake Proof?

While no building is 100% safe 100% of the time, a retrofit does mean that the building will be safer than a building that is not retrofitted. Earthquake retrofitting helps us identify and address immediate risk factors in older buildings at risk of seismic activity. In California, that includes any building, especially those built before 1996 or earlier.

Newer buildings sometimes claim to be “earthquake-resistant” but are only designed for life Safety standards. Modern building materials and techniques can ensure better structural resistance to seismic activity. However, seismic retrofitting of older buildings can’t duplicate this level of safety. Instead, a retrofit of an older building will increase stability and safety to a reasonable level.

What Buildings Are at the Highest Risk?

California Cities current wave of seismic ordinances and regulations for buildings mainly addresses two types of buildings: Non-Ductile concrete, soft-story buildings, and some concrete tilt-up and Masonry structures. Due to previous seismic activity in California, particularly the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 and the Northridge earthquake of 1994, certain structures have been identified as high-risk structures in case of earthquake activity.

These soft story and concrete buildings erected before modern seismic ordinances often include Warehouse, office buildings, apartment buildings, parking garages, and retail businesses.

How Much Does It Cost?

Answering this question would probably ease your worries, unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. It all comes down to how much work needs to be done on the building in question and who you hire to get the job done. An initial consultation can give you a ballpark figure, but the final cost will depend on the services rendered.

How Long Does It Take?

If you have a building that you use for business, it can be retrofitted being fully occupied with minimal disturbance on some structures. After all, each day after an earthquake your building is closed, you could be losing business. The good news is that earthquake retrofits are often done with a decent turnaround, ranging from a couple weeks to 3-4 months depending on the size and complexity of the structure.

If you need an earthquake retrofit for your building in California, or you’re curious to learn more, contact Saunders Seismic for more information.