Things to Consider When Planning Your Seismic Retrofit

Seismic Retrofitting is a process that involves strengthening your home for earthquakes. It can be complicated and time-consuming, so you’ll want to take some time to plan before you get started. Did you know these steps could also help with soft story retrofit solutions? Here are the top things to consider when planning your seismic retrofit:

1) What type of property do I have?

Is your home a single-level house, or is it multi-level? This will affect what you can do with the retrofit. If it’s only one story, then some more extensive options might not be possible for you. For example, braced frames – especially diagonal braces – can pose additional problems if you only have one level.

If your home is multi-level, then you may want to consider adding a crawl space or footing drain to reduce the chances that water will pool and cause damage during an earthquake. You’ll also need to determine if there’s enough height available so that you can add piers safely without compromising plumbing, wiring, and other systems.

2) How much will it cost?

You’ll want to consider the cost of your retrofit in terms of time, money, and convenience. If you are not planning on staying at home during construction, having a contractor do all of the work might be more expensive, but it will save you some time and inconvenience. You can also build part or all of your seismic upgrades if you are interested.

3) When should I start?

The best time to start your seismic retrofit is right now. It’s never been too early to begin planning for the future, and it can be difficult or impossible to get everything done promptly once you are ready to make changes. If you have some flexibility with your move-out date, it might allow more lead time before starting construction.

4) Will my insurance cover it? 

Your insurance company might be more willing to pay for your upgrades if you can demonstrate that they will reduce the damage caused by an earthquake. A structural engineer or an architect versed in seismic retrofits should help with this and provide any necessary documentation. If you consider hiring a contractor, it will likely be easier if they are already insured for the work. You should also ensure that all of your upgrades meet any local building codes to avoid having them nullified by someone inspecting your property before you sell it.

5) Will this work for me or not?

You’ll have to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each type of upgrade. For example, steel frames can take a lot longer than other options, but they might be more cost-effective if you want an added seismic strength rather than longevity. You should also look into whether or not there is potential for future work – such as adding piers – as this can sometimes require the use of steel.

6) Do I need an engineer or architect involved in the design phase?

It’s best to have a trained professional involved in the design phase so that they can give you accurate information about what will work for your home. If there are no specific codes or regulations, then an architect will most likely help with aesthetics while engineers focus on engineering principles and analysis techniques. You should also consider whether or not you need to consult a structural engineer or an architect first.

You should also keep in mind that architects and engineers sometimes have specific areas of expertise, so it might benefit you more to find someone whose focus matches the work that needs to be done for your home – especially if it’s something like adding exterior bracing on the house with wood siding.

It can be overwhelming to plan for a seismic retrofit. Knowing the six things that you should consider when planning this type of project will help ensure that your home is safe and prepared in case an earthquake strikes. Whether it’s pressure-treated wood, steel framing, or concrete walls, there are many factors you need to take into account before starting work on your home’s foundation against an impending quake.