Earthquakes rank as the deadliest natural disaster a country or city can ever experience. It can cause devasting damage to any structure, not to mention the loss of lives and properties. According to Wikipedia, the deadliest earthquake resulted in 820000 to 830000 fatalities.
In this case, if you live in seismic zones, in other words, areas prone to earthquakes, you shouldn’t think twice about securing your building. Before the development of technological ways to protect structures from an earthquake in 1990, there was always maximum structural damage anytime an earthquake occurred.
However, since 1990, the development of new technologies has made it possible to a very large extent, combat the damages an earthquake can cause. Today, even for an ancient building, there are steps to retrofit.
But how do you know your home needs a seismic upgrade? There are a number of conditions to consider, so as not to be caught off-guard. The time your home was built is one of them. It is common knowledge that homes built before the development of seismic technologies (1990) are completely vulnerable to seismic forces. Therefore, your homes definitely do not have seismic protection if it was built before 1980 unless it was retrofitted by the previous owner. Recent homes more often than not have more seismic upgrades.
However, having your building checked out by a structural engineer is never a bad idea. Notably, the structural engineering firm you contact must have high prowess in seismic retrofitting.
The cost of a seismic retrofit can vary depending on a few factors, some of which are;
Seismic retrofitting is not a very costly endeavor, generally, a budget of 3% of your home’s value will suffice. However, for homes in areas with a high risk of earthquakes, or very large homes, a budget of about $10000, will suffice.
One very good point to remember is that the cost of damage repairs or erecting a totally new building, is always very high, compared to the cost of a seismic retrofit. Additionally, some insurance companies include a deal for homes with seismic upgrades.
When an earthquake occurs, it forces can cause damage miles away from its point of origination (epicenter). In my history class, I was told, by my then history teacher, of the 1989 San Francisco. There were death casualties and damage worth over $5 billion.
Seismic studies show that earthquakes get stronger with every passing year and faster in some areas. Seismic professionals predict that such an earthquake will occur again. But this time 12 times stronger. Hence upgrading your homes will save you from having to go through costly repairs later.
Additionally, when an earthquake occurs, several forces act on your homes in the form of shaking and cause different damages to your home;
Retrofitting also takes care of the foundation, and for homes on hills, retrofitting takes care of the ground your home sits on. Other points a seismic upgrade will take care of include;
If you’re worried about the need to move out for the seismic upgrade to take place, debunk such worries. Accomplishing a retrofitting work is possible from outside, therefore, there would be no need to move out (for the most part). However, in the event that you need to move out, upgrading an average-size home would take not more than a week.
Your building must have survived a previous earthquake, as much as we would want that to be enough, it isn’t, the previous earthquake may have weakened your foundation, you wouldn’t want to wait to find out if it survives another, you should include retrofitting to the top of your to-do list.
With the development of new technologies and more information about earthquakes, requirements for buildings, especially in seismic zones, keep changing. A seismic upgrade will ensure you keep up with the changing building codes.
Overall, a seismic upgrade will keep you and your family safe.