1. Does this work?
Yes, the preeminent engineer working on residential seismic strengthening, Thor Matteson, has dedicated his career to forensic analysis of homes and residential structures before and after earthquakes. The basis of most municipalities’ and manufacturers’ “prescriptive” designs are inline with his findings and much testing. The products are low tech and basic, but installed in the proper way and the proper quantity, they will keep your house in place. Testing and history has shown this.
2. Does my house need to be bolted?
Built before the mid ‘80s…most likely yes. For more detailed techie information see here.
3. Why bother doing this, the big one is going to destroy everything?
That’s doomsy…and untrue. Natural disasters happen, your level of preparedness will define whether you and your family have a home, and can continue to call this area your home after the earthquake happens. Do nothing, and you will be moving after the earthquake with all of the equity in your home lost. Prepare by reinforcing your home, getting supplies, and line iteming duties with your family, and you will most likely make it through, and be a benefit to your community.
4. How much does it cost?
Simple retrofits of unfinished basements cost around $4000. If the basement is finished, and drywall repair is required, that may double. If your home has a soft story or masonry foundation, or other structural issue, cost could easily reach $25,000 or more.
5. That’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t make my home prettier…
Not really a question…just a typical reaction we hear. Homes in our region are valuable, the retrofit costs roughly 1%-2% of the value of your home, and almost completely eliminates the chance of catastrophic failure.
6. Do you charge for estimates?
No, and we typically can come out and take a look at your project, and get you pricing within 1 week
7. How long does a retrofit take?
Basic install is 2 days, finished basement with drywall is 5 days, and complications listed above…weeks.
8. How far out is your schedule for install?
We’re typically a couple of months out. Basic jobs can be fit in sooner on a case-by-case basis if scheduling is critical…say for the sale of a home.
9. Can plates be installed from the exterior?
Totally…it’s the shear transfers that are sometimes more difficult to install from outside, but yes. Quick aside—if the work is being done, and the siding is going to be removed—lead paint testing needs to be performed. If it is found, protocols need to be followed. Make sure your contractor is lead-based paint certified.
10. Can I do the work myself?
You certainly can. The designs are pretty straightforward, and you can find technical information at manufacturers’ websites or at your city’s building department. That said, it is loud, dirty work that requires a fair amount of equipment. If you are handy, and have a good tool collection, it might be worthwhile. Estimates are free, so we encourage homeowners who are contemplating doing the work themselves to have us take a look. We can give you pricing and good information so you can make an educated decision.
11. Does this work require a permit?
That depends…retrofits in Portland and Eugene do require a permit. Other jurisdictions like Salem, Hillsboro, or Washington county, do not require a permit. Complicated retrofits that require concrete work or major demolition and rebuild should always be permitted.
12. What if I have other questions?
Contact us! We’ve helped hundreds of home owners over the years, and we’d be delighted to help you.