Many homes in our service area (Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont, and Alameda, CA), and particularly the older homes, have sustained substantial damage from an earthquake at one time or another.
That’s why earthquake or seismic retrofitting is so important.
Our earthquake retrofit and seismic upgrade services are completely customized based on your structural needs.
For example, we install foundation bolts, plywood sheerwall, and various types of hardware in basements and crawlspaces. If your home has a brick foundation, installing additional reinforced concrete retaining walls is one way of providing additional strength to a structure where removal of the brick is impractical. Where garages are failing due to drainage related settlement in old unreinforced concrete, we are able to rebuild these structures with modern foundations and retaining walls along with proper drainage.
The point is, we provide additional protection for your home and your family for when the next quake hits (and we all know it will, unfortunately).
- Earthquake Retrofit
- Seismic Retrofit
- Seismic Upgrade
- Seismic Strengthening
- Voluntary Sub-structural Strengthening
- Brick Foundation Replacement
- Structural Repairs
- Structural Renovation
- Structural Upgrade
- Garage Demolition
- Garage Reconstruction
- Garage Rebuilding
- Garage Remodeling
Earthquake or Seismic Retrofit
Our earthquake retrofitting services are primarily done in basements and crawlspaces with the goal of strengthening your home in the event of an earthquake. These types of jobs consist of bolting or bolting alternatives (foundation anchor plates), plywood sheer walls, clips (A35, L70, L90), strapping, holdowns, T-straps, angle brackets, and other types of hardware. That’s a lot of technical terms, we know, but when the goal is to anchor your house to the foundation and provide lateral sheer strength to the walls in the event of an earthquake, these are the details that matter.
Older homes we see around Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and Piedmont typically have no bolting, or minimal bolting of their foundations. In a seismic upgrade we add additional bolting, sheer plywood, and additional hardware as-needed to strengthen the substructure in the basement or crawlspace.
The goal of seismic strengthening is to minimize the amount of damage your house might experience during an earthquake. Bolting helps secure your home to the foundation, and sheer plywood provides resistance against collapse at the cripple walls.
Voluntary Sub-Structural Strengthening
Retrofits are either engineered or voluntary. Complete engineered retrofits are rarely done as they require calculations for the whole building and would require invasive hardware installation at the upper level of your home. We are primarily working in the crawlspaces and basements, either with standard details for baseline retrofits which we can provide, or with engineering details for more complex layouts, but still under the auspices of voluntary retrofitting. We have a local engineer we work with on a regular basis who provides us with structural details, advice and plans as-needed.
Brick Foundation Replacement
Brick foundations in our area are generally in poor condition, unreinforced, and require replacement with more modern reinforced concrete foundations. Brick is a very weak material, with minimal sheer strength when held together with old mortar in poor condition.
Foundation repairs, concrete repairs, porches and stairs, retaining walls, garages, retrofits- all are structural repair vs. remodeling or cosmetic repairs.
Structural Renovation or Upgrade
When the structural components of older home are compromised due to their age and condition, and are lacking proper reinforcement or are improperly designed, we can upgrade your foundations, framing, garages, drainage, porches and stairs, driveway bridges, etc. as needed. We can also upgrade the structural systems of your older home to a more modern condition, primarily retrofitting, foundation and drainage replacements, stair and porch upgrades, etc.
Older garages sometimes have foundation failure due to inadequate drainage. If there is also additional damage caused by waterproofing failure with the roof and stucco, the garages my need to be demolished and replaced with more modern, upgraded structures.
When garages are failing they may need to be reconstructed, with new buildings that have modern foundations, drainage, and structural elements.
Sometimes garages, particularly those that are not accessible to cars, will be converted to secondary units or accessory structures for the homeowner.
When the driveway must span from the street to the house and does not sit on the ground, these are referred to as driveway bridges. Most of these driveway bridges in older homes are under-engineered and do not meet current code, which requires them to be capable of supporting a firetruck in these hillside homes. This is directly related to the Oakland Hills fire in the nineties, and the need for firetrucks to be able to maneuver and turn around on these mostly narrow roads. These upgrades can be expensive, as they often require complete reconstruction with new foundations, new structural framing, plywood, waterproofing and concrete.