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Buying or Selling Earthquake-safe Commercial Buildings

Buying or Selling Earthquake-safe Commercial Buildings

If you are looking to sell a commercial property or to secure a commercial loan to buy a property, there are several different ways that you can increase your chance of success.  One of the best ways to complete either mission in California is to make sure that the property is safe and not vulnerable to seismic activity.  When making seismic safety improvements, make sure that the following steps are addressed.

  • Strengthen or repair the structural components of the property.  Adjust, or replace if necessary, beams that are weak and may break.  If water has collected on the roof causing beams to sag, make sure the beams are replaced or strengthened.  Rooftop equipment often causes key beams to be overloaded, therefore it may be necessary to decrease the load to ensure the beams are strong enough to withstand major seismic activity.
  • Request a roof assessment during a retrofit inspection. Condensation often occurs when a concrete tilt-up property has what is known as a panelized roof system.  When moisture forms in the roof ceiling, it is trapped by radiant barriers or foil insulation and is unable to dry out.  Commercial properties can be destroyed if condensation issues are not addressed.  Wet roofs are heavy and often collapse during a powerful earthquake.
  • Secure all non-structural items. Installing anchor and strapping systems in commercial buildings is always advised.  Commercial property owners can easily walk through their property, floor-by-floor, to determine items that need to be locked on place.  Items such as fire sprinklers, ceiling grids, light fixtures, storage racks, gas lines and other equipment should all be secured in place to provide a safe workplace and to limit potential damage.
  • California buildings that have not yet gone through a seismic retrofit should be inspected for any weakness or vulnerabilities. Completing a seismic retrofit will ensure earthquake safety when the ground begins to rock and roll.  A seismic retrofit often includes the addition of wall-to-wall anchors, steel brace frames and continuity ties to hold the building/structure together during an earthquake.

Before a building goes through a seismic retrofit process, engineers and contractors specializing in commercial retrofitting will consider the current area building codes, the original construction method, the type of building and the topography of the area.  Retrofit plans will be made accordingly.  Based on earthquake history, engineers and contractors understand that unreinforced masonry buildings are unstable and do not hold up well during seismic activity.  Often part of the retrofitting process includes strengthening walls with steel tubes or fiber wrapping.   Multistory buildings may require other retrofitting steps as well.  Engineers and contractors will look at each individual commercial property to determine any unique steps that need to be taken to increase the building strength and to ensure safety measures are in place.

For commercial property owners or for those looking to purchase a commercial building, it is important to note that seismic retrofitting a building increases marketability.  When a building has gone through the retrofitting process, lending institutions are far less likely to see it as a risky investment.  The cost of earthquake insurance is often reduced for buildings that have been retrofitted, which is a great selling point for California property owners looking to sell their building.

If you are a California property owner interested in learning more about commercial seismic retrofitting or if you would like to schedule a property inspection to determine retrofitting needs, call the professional team at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit today!


Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

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