Seismic Code Improvements Over The Years In California

The evolution of the seismic codes in California over the years is a tale of discovery and ultimately safety. The seismic code improvements are welcomed by many, but more importantly necessary for the personal safety of many California families. The particularly high seismic regions within California combined with past earthquakes have certainly shaken citizens and government agencies. Leaving the community asking “how can we prevent major death and loss when the the next big one hits?” The intention of these new and improved seismic codes is to create stronger structural integrity and protection for existing buildings and those who live and work within them. Often times what causes the most harm during an earthquake is not the earthquake itself, but the fact that poorly constructed buildings can crumble as a result of them. The new seismic ordinances mandated in California extend to existing wood-frame buildings constructed with soft, weak, or open-front walls ( These improvements to seismic code were made partly in response to the property damage that has been experienced in past earthquakes. Many buildings that had been constructed prior to 1978 proved to be insufficient and unable to withstand seismic activity, causing irreparable damage to property and unfortunately resulting in many personal injuries.

The new seismic code improvements have created a minimum safety standard that will allow for buildings in California to perform better when faced with earthquakes, reducing the chance of property damage and instances of injury. These ordinances apply only to buildings that have more than three units. If the building you live in or own fits any of the aforementioned criteria, yourself or the building’s owner will receive an order to comply with new seismic codes. Within two years of receiving this order building owners must either provide proof of their building’s compliance or plans to retrofit their building or demolish it ( Within the five years following this, it is required that demolition or seismic retrofit services have been wholly completed. The safety and well being of individuals and the homes in which they live cannot be short changed. These mandatory ordinances requiring seismic retrofitting throughout California, though no easy feat, are to the benefit of all that live, work, and play in this golden state. 

For more information on seismic code and the seismic retrofit services offered by Penhall, visit our seismic retrofit page…                           


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