How to Choose a Seismic Contractor
Seismic contractors are specialists who retrofit buildings so that they are less prone to damage during an earthquake. Adding additional materials and steel reinforcement can help extend the durability of a building. Failing to retrofit an old building could mean lost lives and millions of dollars in damages. Here’s how to determine an appropriate seismic contractor.
Seek Professionals, Not Low Cost Amateurs
It’s very important in any type of contracting work to know who you’re hiring and the experience level they bring to your project. You cannot afford to let the lowest bidder do retrofit work just to save money because it could end up costing you much more money than you planned in the long run. Be aware that some contractors start out with low bids and add Change Orders to make up for the low bid.
Seismic contracting is not a job that any general contractor can perform. Make sure your crew specifically has experience in the type of retrofit job you desire. Do not assume that a general contractor will have all the proper tools and skills for retrofitting, since it’s a job that involves different types of construction materials than what was used for old structures prior to states looking seriously at building codes. Ideally you want a seismic contractor who works regularly on retrofit projects with their own crew.
Ask Simple Questions, Look for Clear Answers
Before committing to a seismic contractor, it’s best to ask a series of questions to get a feel for the company’s communication style. Does the contractor give clear answers or create confusion? The most reputable contractors prioritize strong communication skills as a way to develop relationships with customers. Strong communication means giving confident instead of evasive responses to fair questions.
One of your key questions should be: how long will the project take? On one hand, you do not want to rush a retrofit project. On the other, you don’t want the project dragging out longer than the expected time frame. You should also ask your own insurance company how the project will affect your premiums, which logically should decrease. Finally, it’s always helpful to ask for a list of references so that you can directly check on the contractor’s previous work yourself.
Retrofitting an old commercial building protects lives and the life span of the structure. Contact Saunders Seismic at our California, Washington or Oregon location to learn more about retrofitting options for your commercial building.