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Strengthen Your Commercial Property Now

Strengthen Your Commercial Property Now

Seismic retrofitting is the process of modifying existing properties (residential and commercial) to ensure that they are better able to withstand the rocking, rolling and shaking or even soil failure due to powerful seismic activity.  Earthquakes put a great deal of stress on structures.  Not only are buildings impacted by the earth’s movement; bridges, dams, subway systems and tunnels are often impacted as well.

There have been a number of massive earthquakes around the globe in recent years, including a devastating quake in central Italy today, and we have seen many pictures of the devastation and complete destruction, especially in or near urban centers.  Cities along the West Coast, including Los Angeles, have acknowledged that many buildings are currently in need of seismic retrofitting to make them more resistant to the forces of mighty underground movement

If you own a commercial property, there are a number of issues to consider when looking at the safety of your building.  The retrofitting process involves looking at the overall condition of the structure and handling any major maintenance issues, such as roof condensation and other structural roof repairs.  Retrofitting also involves bracing walls, reinforcing shear walls, along with reinforcing gas lines and fire sprinkler systems.  Seismic retrofitting is needed throughout California, especially in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.  Buildings that were constructed using certain methods, such as un-reinforced masonry or concrete tilt-up are particularly vulnerable.

Seismic retrofitting contractors review many things during a building inspection, however before they even look at the structure, they will look at two specific “red flag” criteria.  The timeframe of when the building was constructed is important.  If the building was constructed before the late 1970s, it absolutely will need a seismic retrofit.  Building codes prior to that time period were nowhere near as stringent as the current regulations.  Buildings constructed in the 1980s and even the early 1990s may need a retrofit, depending on the type of building and the construction method used.  Generally speaking, those buildings that were built in the 1990s were designed with structural soundness and overall safety in mind.

Based on historical information, retrofitting specialists also know that specific building types are more prone to severe damage.  Multi-story concrete buildings typically require strengthening systems to help them bear extreme weight when the ground begins to move.  Unreinforced masonry buildings often need several different strengthening measures, including roof-to-wall connections, a new plywood overlay for the roof and wall strengthening that includes fiber wrapping or tube steel.  Concrete Tilt-Up properties frequently require additional strengthening measures that include continuity ties and roof-to-wall anchors, along with the installation of steel brace frames.  Buildings that have an open first floor and a closed second floor often sustain great damage during earthquake conditions.  Retrofitting contractors know that this type of building will need steel framing and shear walls in order to prevent the bottom floor from rotating and collapsing during an earthquake.

Commercial property owners should be mindful that they can be held liable for injuries and damages if they are aware that repairs are needed and they choose not to take the steps necessary to complete safety updates.   In addition, commercial properties that have not been retrofitted are typically not eligible for earthquake insurance.  It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure their building is safe and known issues are addressed.  If your property is located in the Los Angeles area and you know that it has not been retrofitted, you should schedule a retrofit inspection with an experienced professional contractor.

Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit works with commercial property owners throughout the state of California, including the metropolitan Los Angeles area.  If you would like to meet with a seismic retrofitting expert to learn more about retrofitting options or to schedule a building inspection, make a call today!


Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

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