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Building Owners Should Care About Earthquake Retrofitting

Why should a building owner care about earthquake retrofitting services? It depends on how old your building is and how it was built. Knowledge about earthquake safety was not applied to construction until the late twentieth century. Adding steel for reinforcement is one of the keys to making a structure more stable with the ability to withstand seismic activity.

Cities and Buildings at Risk

Tall buildings constructed prior to 1992 definitely should be considered for retrofit, especially in California cities over fault lines. Los Angeles and San Francisco are particularly vulnerable, as both major cities are home to thousands of buildings that could collapse in an earthquake due to lack of modern engineering. But the entire west coast, from Seattle to San Diego, poses among the highest earthquake risks in America, according to seismic hazard maps released by the USGS.

High risk buildings for collapsing during an earthquake include structures with weak foundations, such as soft-story apartment complexes with rooms built on top of garages. These buildings provide little structural support on the ground floor. The current structural codes and requirements for earthquake safety were established in 1996. So any building constructed prior to this date should be inspected for earthquake retrofitting services.

Buildings with deterioration due to condensation are also at risk because it can lead to structural damage and destruction of the entire roof system. Lack of ventilation and buildup of moisture from a nearby waterfront or indoor heat can contribute to this damage.

Retrofit Solutions

The first step in earthquake retrofitting services is for engineers to conduct an inspection and study on your property to determine the best retrofit solutions, along with budget estimates. (Contractors typically supply better budgets.) The next series of steps involve construction. In many cases, the solution will require structural steel or structural concrete to add reinforcement. Other elements of retrofit include strengthening roof to wall connections and adding columns, beams, braces, frames, shear walls and other forms of support.

Saunders works on a variety of structures including concrete tilt-ups, steel structures and multi-family apartments with soft-story or tuck under parking designs. The company specializes in repairing or remodeling existing buildings with difficult access, but also operates as a general contractor or subcontractor. Key areas of focus are structural work, seismic retrofits and repairs related to roofing or structure.

Conclusion

Not only can retrofit help a building resist collapse during an earthquake, it can raise the value of your property, lower your insurance and make occupants feel more secure. Contact us at Saunders Seismic Commercial Retrofit to learn more about whether your building needs earthquake retrofitting services. We’ve been in business since 1979, helping building owners create safer conditions in the event of a natural disaster.

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