The final judge of the quality of any seismic retrofit work is really the next big earthquake. Everyone living, working and owning property here in Southern California knows this, but sometimes this fact gets muddled with legislation, owner’s liability concerns, building codes, and the cost of earthquake retrofits. Obviously, there are many details to sort out major structural work needs to be done on a large building. At the end of the day, however, property owners must remember that it’s the “big one” we’re all trying to protect our buildings and people against. Choosing a truly experienced seismic retrofit firm is critical. With 36 years of earthquake retrofitting experience in and around Los Angeles, Optimum Seismic recommends choosing a seismic retrofit firm based on the following 3 criteria:
1. Length of Time Working in Southern California’s Earthquake Zones
Southern California has strict earthquake building codes that engineering firms need to abide by in any seismic retrofit project. Building owners have a range of choices when they need to have work done. One thing that few engineering firms have, however, is the length of experience working in this earthquake-prone area that Optimum Seismic has. With first-hand knowledge of how large-scale earthquakes impact the various types of architecture in our area, Optimum Seismic has perspective that many other firms simply don’t. In addition to being part of the effort to establish the nation’s best earthquake building codes, we have a deep understanding of exactly why and how those building codes should be applied, whether in soft story retrofits or large commercial building seismic retrofit projects. We also have decades of experience working with the world’s toughest building inspectors and deliver the quality of work necessary to complete inspections property. Most importantly, we have lived and worked through several large earthquakes in Southern California, so we fully understand the process of making sure our seismic retrofit projects withstand the earthquake hazards that are unique to our area.
2. Experience working on Large Commercial Seismic Retrofit Projects
Many seismic retrofit firms in our area specialize in single-family home projects. Far fewer, have the experience and expertise necessary to master earthquake retrofits for large commercial buildings, schools, apartment complexes, office buildings, retail buildings and even municipal infrastructure such as bridges. Optimum Seismic has mastered the process of working on all of these types of construction projects over the last 36 years. These structures can be extremely vulnerable to large earthquakes. In large-scale commercial seismic retrofit projects, the stakes are high. More people live in, work in and drive over these structures, which puts more people at risk in the event of an earthquake. This is why you can’t afford a “wait-and-see” attitude if you own or manage large properties that might fail in an earthquake. Even if your structures have survived smaller earthquakes, there’s no guarantee they will withstand the larger temblors that will surely come. In fact, after an earthquake of virtually any magnitude, it’s important to have your buildings and structures checked for damage that may have weaken them. In short, it’s important for all property owners to understand their building’s earthquake risks and to do all they can to mitigate those risks by working with an experienced and reputable seismic retrofit firm.
3. An Experienced Earthquake Retrofit Firm Will Answer Your Questions
As you prepare to have a seismic retrofit job done on any of your buildings or structures, it’s important to ask the right questions of the contractors from whom you request bids. You don’t even need to be an engineering expert to be able to evaluate their answers if you’ve done some basic research. These questions should help you evaluate their level of experience and expertise—and their ability to perform the work necessary to protect your buildings and their inhabitants in a big earthquake:
- How well do they understand current L.A. earthquake building codes?
- Can they explain how the newer codes differ from the older building codes that were less “earthquake ready”?
- Do they adhere to the American Society of Civil Engineers guidelines on large-scale seismic retrofitting projects?
- How familiar are they with the entire permitting process through the City of Los Angeles?
Keep in mind that previous client references are useful to some extent too. The professionalism and quality of the work, however, can only be truly evaluated after a building has endured an earthquake, so be sure to ask for references with this type of experience.
About Optimum Seismic
Optimum Seismic has 40+ years of experience retrofitting commercial and municipal buildings in Southern California, and we know how to ensure that your building will stand during the next earthquake. To discuss your building’s needs, contact us today to schedule your Free Consultation and Quote.