Houses are imperfect, they need maintenance. When not maintained, a house will eventually be worthless. Upgrades are an essential facet of homeownership. Building codes have changed to reflect the latest knowledge and safety in buildings. Has your house kept up?

(Reinforced Window Opening)

Safer Homes

While Utah has not seen this yet, many states are requiring owners to complete upgrades by certain deadlines. Stronger buildings withstand earthquakes better, reduce the strain on first responders and emergency managers, reduce the amount of rubble going to landfills and may provide housing when it is needed the most. Preparedness is wisdom.

There are other economical and effective upgrades that you may want to do before redecorating or repainting such as reinforcing with steel around windows, and doorways. We can access many structural components through sheetrock which is inexpensive and easy to replace. Nobody will notice but your home will be safer for those you love.

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Inconspicuously Upgraded

Many upgrades can be inconspicuously done without a lot of interruptions to daily living. Safety and security can be improved even when budget, timing or priorities do not allow for a complete Retrofit all at one time. Sometimes a home improvement project can incorporate seismic upgrades economically. Thoughtful planning can help you make your home safer instead of just prettier.

Wise homeowners want their home to last and be safer by incorporating newer standards and higher structural integrity. A series of upgrades may be equivalent to a whole house Retrofit. Upgrades protect your family and what is likely your largest investment. 

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(Blocking on Top Rafter Chords)

Free Consultation First

Insurers and lenders sometimes require certain upgrades to grant a loan or to start, continue or renew insurance coverage, e.g anchor the bottom plate to the foundation or reinforce an unreinforced masonry structure etc. Anytime a roof is being replaced on an older building, it is a good time to consider seismic upgrades. Just beware, some roofers claim that a simple roof job is a seismic upgrade but that is like calling roller blades a new car.

Combining seismic upgrades with  a roof replacement can reduce the total cost and give you greater peace of mind. Because we install steel fasteners, blocking, anchors and hangers this may also reduce the type of damage that occurs with high winds also. The 1999 tornado in Salt Lake City ripped the top off several houses. So called ‘hurricane clips’ are a fairly recent addition to local building codes. DON’T REROOF ANY OLDER HOME WITHOUT OUR FREE CONSULTATION!

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Updated Standards

Previous construction standards permitted crib walls (crib wall, cripple wall, knee wall and pony wall all refer to the same type of wall) which are a hazard many people have not worried about. It was done to save money by only pouring half a foundation and building the house on a half wall but sadly it was never made to resist an earthquake. If your house has a ledge around the basement, typical in 1970’s split entry and split level styles or if the siding extends lower than the first floor, we strongly encourage you to have our free inspection and consultation. Don’t let this happen to your house.

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(House with Crib Walls)

Vulnerable Walls

An upgrade to reinforce crib walls or large, vulnerable portals  such as a garage door or picture windows could save lives, by fixing the ‘soft story’ or ‘weak area,’  for very economical cost and with very little disruption to daily activity in the home. (This video shows a life size test of two identical buildings on an earthquake simulator, one has retrofits, the other is destroyed)

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    Masonry is the most used material in the historical buildings of the European architectural heritage. The mechanical properties of these structures are often low, due to both the texture of the masonry and the poor quality of the mortar.

    Elena Ferretti and Giovanni PascaleSome of the Latest Active Strengthening Techniques for Masonry Buildings: A Critical Analysis

    Uniform Building Code (UBC): In 1927, the first edition of the UBC contained seismic provisions in its appendix for new construction, but it was not widely adopted. In the middle part of the 20th century, cities typically maintained unique seismic design requirements in local ordinances that were loosely similar to parts of the UBC and local variations in practice resulted in many inconsistencies. By the late 1970’s, most local governments were adopting various editions of the UBC with local amendments, but consistency in adoption dates and editions didn’t emerge until the 1980’s.

    Fred TurnerRevisiting Earthquake Lessons - Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

    There’s a roughly 50% chance that a magnitude 6 or larger earthquake will shake the Wasatch Front in the next half century. And many older structures would not withstand it.

    In order to prevent that from happening, contractors can tie the roof to the walls and strap down the chimney to prevent it from tipping, among other strategies. But that can be expensive, running homeowners $15,000 to $20,000.

    Bob CareyThe Utah Division of Emergency Management's earthquake program manager

    Unreinforced masonry (URMs) buildings and homes create the greatest risk for the Salt Lake Valley in the expected Utah earthquake. Salt Lake City’s Fix the Bricks facilitates seismic improvements for its residents URMs in an effort to save lives by reducing the number of deaths, injured and trapped after an earthquake. Preparedness starts at home. Act now!

    Salt Lake Fix the Brickshttps://www.slc.gov/em/fix-the-bricks/

    There are no guarantees of safety during earthquakes, but properly constructed and strengthened homes are far less likely to collapse or be damaged during earthquakes.

    Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake SafetyPublished by the California Seismic Safety Commission 2020 edition

    Whatever the earthquake danger may be, it is a thing to be dealt with on the ground by skillful engineering, not avoided by flight…

    G. K. Gilbert, USGS ca. 1906

    scenario modeling of a major (magnitude [M] 7.0) earthquake on the Salt Lake City segment of the Wasatch fault zone predicts 2,000 to 2,500 fatalities, 7,400 to 9,300 life-threatening injuries, 55,400 buildings completely damaged, 21 million tons of debris, and $33.2 billion in estimated short-term, direct economic losses

    M. Leon Berrett, P.E.