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Delaying A Seismic Retrofit May Well Be Devastating

Delaying A Seismic Retrofit May Well Be Devastating

Seismologists say that it is only a matter of time before the next big earthquake hits Los Angeles. In fact, the experts are predicting that a record earthquake will occur within the next three decades. When one looks at the photos and video footage from the relatively recent wreckage caused by devastating earthquakes around the world, it’s hard to even consider that the same thing could happen in Los Angeles, or anywhere else along the West Coast fault lines. We do receive reminders almost every day, however, with the slight tremors that occur; these little tremors are so much a part of life in the Los Angeles area that they are easy to ignore.

When a devastating earthquake occurs, the damage to homes and commercial buildings can be tremendous, especially for unsecured properties. When looking at who is responsible for ensuring the financial accountability to safeguard commercial buildings from the devastation of an earthquake, there is no clear answer. There is usually a difference between what the state codes expect of property owners and what ethically needs to be done over and above the building code requirements. In today’s more difficult economy, property owners are judiciously watching their bottom line; proactive maintenance and upgrades are often delayed. It is important to remember, however, that attending to the weaknesses of a building before the occurrence of an earthquake can avert major wreckage, along with preventing serious injury and death. Retrofitting prior to an earthquake is certainly much more cost-effective when compared to the expensive clean-up and rebuild efforts that will be necessary for the damage incurred from destroyed property and other liability issues after a powerful earthquake.

Property owners have much to think about when considering a seismic retrofit for a commercial building in the Los Angeles area.  Important information to consider includes the following:

When is it time for an earthquake retrofit?

The old saying, “the sooner, the better”, certainly applies when it comes to seismic retrofitting a commercial property. As mentioned earlier, strengthening a commercial property now is the best way to avoid complete devastation during an unpredictable force of nature in the future.  With a major earthquake striking sometime in the next thirty years, many property owners who have decided to perform large-scale improvements, schedule the work to be completed during the summer months.  Summertime is often considered to be the optimal time for a seismic retrofit because the weather is moderate, precipitation is minimal, and daylight stretches well into the evening hours.  During this time of year, professional retrofitting crews can get the work completed efficiently and effectively, minimizing the impact on day-to-day tenant operations.

What repairs should be made during an earthquake retrofit?

A thorough property inspection will find any weaknesses in the roof, walls, foundation, and non-structural elements of a structure. Once the inspection is completed, a comprehensive task list is typically documented, along with a bid to complete the suggested work. This information helps property owners and property management staff in prioritizing the enhancements that are necessary. Walls, floors, and beams that are not properly anchored, unreinforced masonry, and roof structures are typical areas of concern that should be at the top of the “must do” list. The property inspection should also document any non-structural items such as equipment, water heaters, and supply lines that should be in marked zones and well secured.

Who should be hired for an earthquake retrofit?

It is important to choose a seismic contractor, rather than a general contractor, for structural and seismic work. While many general construction companies claim to be experts in seismic retrofitting, their experience in this area is usually minimal when compared to that of a knowledgeable specialist. A seismic retrofit requires specialized experience in the selection and installation of suitable materials by well-trained and highly skilled workers. Selecting a general contractor to complete a seismic retrofit may be easier, but it can be more expensive in the long run and the results may fall short of your expectations.

Commercial property owners have a duty to uphold the safety of their commercial structures, including the occupants, equipment, and inventory involved. The experienced professionals at Saunders Seismic Commercial Earthquake Retrofit can provide property owners with an insurance quote based on present and after-retrofitting values so clients can immediately calculate their investment return. While an earthquake retrofit is certainly a large financial commitment, the bottom line is that it is less expensive and certainly safer to seismic retrofit a structure prior to an earthquake rather than to deal with costly damages and handle liability issues after the catastrophic earthquake occurs. For more information about scheduling an inspection or to speak with an experienced seismic retrofit contractor in the Los Angeles area,  call us today at…

Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034


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