Shake, Rattle and Roll Out the Dough?

Too many building owners believe that renovations are too expensive because of earthquake or seismic code requirements.  This provision of the code confuses many, including code officials and design consultants.  Depending on the building code for your area, such requirements may not be necessary even for large projects.  The “devil is in the details”.

In the International Existing Building Code there are several triggers spread throughout the code that can “trip” the requirement to “demonstrate that the altered building…..complies with ….seismic loading”.  These include:

1.       If more than 50% of the building area is the architectural work area

2.       If more than 30% of the structure is structurally modified

At Banwell, we have had success partnering with the structural engineer and the local code officials to proactively review what is really considered the “architectural work area”.  In partnership with our clients and structural engineers, we consider what percentage of the structure is being disturbed so unnecessary cost does not burden the client.  Another strategy is to have new additions designed to be “seismically independent” of the existing building.  By proactively communicating priorities and collaborating with key stakeholders, we can design a renovation that addresses the client’s programmatic and budgetary needs while protecting the safety of all.

Of course, some projects involve additional requirements depending on the building type and location.  Always consult your architect, structural engineer and code officials to be certain of what your specific project requires.  Just because it’s a large renovation, does not always mean a complete structural overhaul.