What Should You Expect From An Earthquake Retrofitting?

The main objective of having a house earthquake retrofitted is to make sure that they are protected structural damage that’s often accompanied by earthquakes. The retrofitting simply makes it more difficult for a house to get uprooted from the foundation. Both existing homes as well as new ones need to be retrofitted so that they can withstand the effects of earthquakes.

While insurance can help you get prepared for an earthquake as you will be able to finance rebuilding, it won’t replace the house and certainly not the contents inside. Retrofitting houses for earthquakes on the other hand minimizes the damage and as such, all you may have to after an earthquake are minor repairs. Discussed below are several things you can expect from an earthquake retrofitting.

Expansion foundation bolting

Also known as mechanical foundation anchor bolting, expansion foundation bolting refers to anchoring the foundation’s mudsill. This is an affordable part of the retrofitting process, but to work well the concrete strength has to be good. This is because if the concrete cracks, then the bolts will not hold. They are usually installed in houses with new foundations or where the concrete is in good shape.

Plate washers

Recently, it was discovered that washers installed in houses prior to the 1990s did not provide enough holding strength as they weren’t long enough. This necessitated the upgrade of clamping washers usually installed with retrofit anchor bolts. To allow efficient clumping of the mudsill to the foundation, hot-dipped galvanized plate washers measuring 3” by 3” by 0.25” have to be used.

Foundation bolting

This basically refers to improving the connection between the concrete foundation and the frame of the building using bolts. Usually, this involves installing bolts that run through the mudsill into the underlying concrete. Mudsill refers to the piece of wood that lies on the foundation. For optimal effect, care should be taken when planning, placement as well as installation.

Cripple wall bracing

Many houses come with a short wall made of a wood frame that runs from the foundation to the bottom of the ground floor. This wall is known as cripple wall. The collapse of this wall is one of the main causes of damages during earthquakes. This makes it important to brace the wall against seismic movements.

To protect them from earthquakes, cripple walls are either stiffened or braced. A bracing effect is achieved by attaching the wall framing with high quality plywood. Stiffening, on the other hand, is achieved when plywood is attached along the walls of the house. The plywood that runs along the sides, braces the cripple wall in a front to back direction, while those that run along the front and back brace the cripple wall in a side to side direction.

Good detailing of connections from the ground, foundation, sill, wall and the floor is important. This makes it possible for load transfer to occur. Load transfer basically refers to transfer of seismic effects from one component of the building to the next.

Epoxy-set foundation washers

These work best for older homes whose concrete foundations are not as strong as those of new buildings. They also work in situations where seismic movements cause bolts to uproot upward from the concrete. Their biggest advantage is that they longer and therefore sit deeper in concrete, offering added protection against earthquakes.

Home without cripple walls

While cripple walls are common, not all houses have them. This makes them less susceptible to earthquake damage, but a considerable level of risk still exists. Toenails found between the foundation and the frame are not strong enough to handle earthquakes and slight movement can cause a lot of damage. Fortunately, there are a number of connection systems that one can use to protect their houses against earthquakes. The options will depend on the age of the home, access condition as well as the size of the frame.

Angle iron struts and foundation bolting

This custom upgrade provides a more efficient, economic, functional way of connecting the foundation with floor joists. The reason we are describing them as custom is because they are not ready made and as such cannot be directly purchased from a store. They have to order and custom made by a qualified steel fabricator. They are especially preferred for homes that sit on hillsides.

Foundation holdown brackets

Shear walls, sometimes require additional holdown brackets in order to effectively anchor them. This ensures that they are resistant to rolling and lifting, which often occur during earthquakes. Holdown brackets are installed at the ends of shear walls rather than their locations during house earthquake bolting in Los Angeles.

Soft story conditions

These are common in houses that are attached to garages. A large opening between the garage and the main house, usually the garage door, has little or no strength against earthquakes. Thus, the name soft story, referring to a story house built over a soft wall. Such walls are strengthened by bracing plywood on a wall that’s in line and next to the opening.

Custom Homes Vs. Semi-Custom Homes

Building a new house is always an exciting, challenging and eye-opening experience. There’s always a tone of decisions that need to be made. It’s sometimes hard to imagine that the whole experience starts with a simple idea that was put on paper a while back. But at the end of the day, that’s what it all comes down to: an idea that you eventually bring to life and call it home.

Many new homeowners are often faced with the challenge of deciding between a custom home and a semi-custom home. Both of these options have varied differences and offer different options for a new home. But like everything else, they have limitations. To make the choice easier for you, we look at the differences between custom and semi-custom homes.

Semi-custom homes

With these homes, you are presented with house designs and floor plans that were pre-designed. Out of the many that you are provided with, you choose one that you prefer most. You then make modifications to the plans to make it suit your desired style. You can revise the size of rooms and extensions among other things. Semi-custom homes are often built on a land lot owned by the builder or as part of a community.

Pros of semi-custom homes

  • Personalized design – Given that homeowners are allowed to revise and make modifications to original floor plans, they get to have a house with a design that’s specific to their families.
  • Budget – For homeowners who are on tight budgets, a semi-custom home is a great option. It is not as costly compared to custom homes, especially since you don’t have to pay for new house plans. Moreover, while some features and products may not be as unique as those of custom homes, they can still be purchased at subsidized prices.
  • Time – again, if you are working within a tight timeline, it’s easy to see why semi-custom homes are the better choice. This stems from the fact that the design phase is incredibly short, saving you and the contractor a lot of time.

Cons of semi-custom homes

  • Homeowners often have to compromise on style, design and much more if they go for semi-custom homes
  • The functionality and quality are compromised sometimes as well
  • Given a limited budget, high-end products and features have to be ruled out
  • There are limited options on where one can build their home

Custom homes

There is just one word to describe custom homes: freedom. Freedom is basically what everyone craves for in every aspect of their lives and to have that when building a new home is a bonus. Custom homes a limitless range of possibilities starting with the size of the house, design, products and features and whatever else you need just to create the best space for your family.

Normally, custom home projects begin with an idea that’s developed with the help of a qualified general contractor in Los Angeles. Over time, your idea, location, the needs of your family and other significant factors pull together and soon the custom home plan comes to life. As the name suggests, the house is completely custom built to fit your needs.

When it comes to location, custom homes are built where the homeowner prefers. In this case, it’s usually a lot owned by the homeowner. Given that everything stems from an idea and there are no shortcuts in the design phase, there are more decisions to be made.

Pros of custom homes

  • Control – Homeowners have control over every aspect of design and building process
  • The quality and functionality are always up to standards
  • Budget – Given the level of control that homeowners have, they can also set a budget within which to work
  • Uniqueness – The choices that are made during the design, building and décor phases make custom homes very unique to a specific homeowner and different from other properties

Cons of custom homes

  • Price – Custom homes are very expensive considering that the design is new. Moreover, the products and features chosen to contribute to hiked expenses.
  • Depreciation – Compared to traditional homes, custom homes depreciate faster. This means that they have a shorter life span.
  • The added expense of hiring an architect may be incurred if your builder is not a qualified architect
  • For this project, you may require a construction loan, which many banks do not provide. The makes financing a challenge.
  • If you have a tight timeline, this may not be the best option as custom homes take a long time to complete

While both may seem appealing, it’s always important to put consideration into budget, time, family needs and the level of uniqueness when deciding on the type of home you want. All these factors, as well a clear understanding of the similarities and differences between custom and semi-custom homes, are important will help you make a better investment for your family.