You cannot live in San Francisco without regularly hearing the term retrofitting — or seismic retrofitting to be specific. That’s because California lies in an earthquake hazard zone and retrofitting, which makes buildings, bridges and other structures stronger, provides one of the best ways to minimize damage and ensure safety in the event of a disaster.
- What exactly is seismic retrofitting?
As engineers develop new materials, technologies, and designs that are better able to endure the violent movement of a quake, older structures need to be brought up to code. Seismic retrofitting refers to the process by which older structures are reinforced with these additional earthquake safety features. However, retrofitted buildings do not have to be brought up to the code applicable to newly constructed ones because this process would be too disruptive and costly, if even possible.
There are two general types of retrofits: nonstructural and structural.
- Nonstructural retrofits, as the name implies, are often easy, do-it-yourself projects, such as bracketing tall bookshelves to wall studs and securing overhead light fixtures. See our Earthquake Preparedness article for more nonstructural retrofit tips for your home.
- Structural retrofits can be much more elaborate and expensive, running the gamut from anchoring brick chimneys to reinforcing masonry walls and foundations — anything that strengthens the structure of your home.