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Seismic Retrofit in Oregon

Although most of Oregon’s thousands of earthquakes over the years have been minor (i.e. under a magnitude of three,) the state has suffered three destructive earthquakes in the past century. Quakes as far away as Seattle can affect buildings in Portland, so seismic retrofit is an important consideration for Oregon building owners. Here are reasons why you should consider renovating your building to fit modern standards for earthquake safety.

Minimalizing Earthquake Damage

An earthquake can be devastating to old structures built prior to when engineers learned construction techniques for reducing seismic damage. The February 28, 2001 Nisqually quake had a magnitude of 6.8, shaking high rise offices in Portland. Oregon has experienced a few other major quakes, so you can’t ignore the possibility of another major quake in the future. The best way to prepare for such a disaster is with a seismic retrofit designed to prevent damage, or at least keep damage to a minimum.

Value of Seismic Retrofitting

Not only will seismic retrofitting save lives, it will save time and money in a future earthquake. Your building will be more resistant to seismic activity due to strengthening roof to wall connections. Two common types of seismic retrofit are Concrete Tilt-Up & Reinforced Masonry (CMU) and Un-reinforced Masonry (URM). CMU means adding anchors that connect the roof to the walls, as well as continuity ties for stronger reinforcement. Steel brace frames are sometimes needed for more robust structures. URM involves installing roof to wall connections, continuity ties, and a new roofing overlay made of plywood.

Seismic retrofitting can also add value to your commercial property. A future buyer will likely see savings and efficiency in a building that has been positioned to survive an earthquake. Retrofit further attracts lenders who are willing to finance building initiatives, knowing the building has been made secure for tenants. They view seismic retrofit as reducing risk of Probable Maximum Loss (PML).

Retrofitting for Worst Case Scenarios

Apartment complexes with ground level parking and second floor living often suffer damage in an earthquake. They can be strengthened by adding shear walls, along with a steel moment frame, concrete footing and drag lines. This strategy prevents the first floor from falling apart. The more secure tenants feel, the longer they will commit to occupancy contracts. Retrofitting creates a sense of security that the building is designed to withstand a natural disaster, using the strongest building materials possible.

We here at Saunders Seismic have focused on earthquake retrofits to decrease damage and increase safety ever since 1984. We have the experience and insights needed to guard your building against the worst effects of an earthquake. Contact us today to learn more about a seismic retrofit for your building.

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