Natural disasters are a part of life, and earthquakes are no exception. When building a new house, it is definitely worth seeing if earthquakes may be an issue in your area. By planning ahead, it is possible to build your home in a manner that can reduce the risk of structural failure, home loss, and injury.
Consider Where You Live
When it comes to earthquakes, there are two major considerations regarding your location. The first will be your general location. Some areas are simply far more prone to dangerous quakes than others. In the United States, the risk of seismic activity can generally be obtained through governmental websites. However, California and the Western United States coast is the area most known for earthquakes—both in frequency and severity. Further inland, states such as Arizona, Utah, and Colorado may have more moderate, but still very real, risk. The secondary consideration is the specific location of your home, and what it will be resting on in terms of ground density. Hard rocky ground and very dense soils transmit earthquake energy better than soft or loose soils. If you are in an earthquake-prone area and planning to build on hard ground, you are at high risk for earthquake damage.
Risks vs. Benefits
Property damage is a common casualty of earthquakes. If and when an earthquake does hit, you will want to make sure your property is prepared. Unlike in pop culture, the main risk of earthquakes is not gaping chasms, but building collapse or breakage from the seismic waves and ground liquefaction. Major secondary risk comes from fires caused by property damage. The main issue with earthquake-proofing is the higher cost involved. In some areas, code requirements may make various earthquake-proof building and construction techniques a requirement. In this case, ensure that your contractors and builders are in full code compliance. If going above and beyond what the code mandates, you may increase the cost of your construction anywhere from 2 percent up to potentially 8 percent more than standard construction cost. While the initial cost may seem daunting, it can save a lot of money—and potentially lives—later down the line.
Basic Earthquake Proofing
There really is no such thing as a fully earthquake-proof home, but there are certainly many steps that can be taken to make the home as resistant to earthquakes and damage as possible. Since earthquakes are a ground-based event, your foundation will be key. Building the foundation on a looser soil instead of hard and using advanced engineering techniques can significantly reduce your risk. Avoid materials that lack elasticity, such as brick, stone or concrete. Instead, use wood, steel or steel-reinforced concrete. Lightweight materials in your flooring and shearing walls will help prevent collapse or home implosion. Lastly, make sure your belongings are secured and anchored as well as possible.
Earthquakes are extremely dangerous and must be taken seriously. Living in a zone with even moderate activity drastically increases the likelihood of your home experiencing a quake. By using earthquake-proof techniques and materials, under the eye of a knowledgeable builder, you can make your home much safer for you and your family.
Here at Absolute Construction, Inc., we are committed to building quality, safe homes. Contact us for a free quote today!