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Earthquake-Safe Properties Are Marketable

Earthquake-Safe Properties Are Marketable

In today’s economic climate, it is easier to compete in the Los Angeles commercial real estate market with earthquake-safe properties.  Industrial properties, multi-family apartment buildings and other commercial properties on the market in the Los Angeles area are part of regularly shifting real estate trends.  Studies show that the asking prices for commercial properties experienced an all-time high in early 2008, only to fall in 2010.  Of course, that information is not a major revelation; we all know the real estate market has gone through dramatic losses in recent years.  What may come as a surprise is the fact that the January 2010 levels match the prices in 2006, which was generally thought to be a more steady time. There are plenty of commercial buildings in Los Angeles that are on the market today and there are a number of ways for property owners to gain interest for their property.

Getting a property ready for a sale is never a quick and easy task; it generally requires some level of preparation before the FOR SALE sign goes up.  In California, this should include having a thorough inspection to be sure the necessary maintenance has been done and the building’s risk has been minimized.  Depending on the results of the inspection, a commercial earthquake retrofit may be necessary.  Buildings constructed before 1987 typically were not built to withstand the forces of a strong earthquake, therefore improving the safety of a building with an earthquake retrofit is part of good financing preparation.  Mortgage lenders want assurance of a property’s value and structural integrity, so it should be reassuring to a possible buyer that a building has all of the elements required for the bank to issue a commercial building loan.  It is also important to consider that lenders who request a PML of less than 20% are usually satisfied when a professional earthquake retrofit has been completed.

Four typical ways to improve the earthquake safety of commercial buildings:

1.   Secure non-structural items and provide anchor and strapping systems throughout the building.

This includes storage systems that hold equipment, fire sprinklers, ceiling grids, light fixtures, and any other equipment in manufacturing plants.

2.   Inspect for roof condensation and correct any issues that are found.

If you have a concrete tilt-up building with a panelized roof system, roof condensation is a condition that is quite likely to occur.   Any dampness or moisture that develops at the roof ceiling area becomes trapped by foil insulation or other types of radiant barriers.  If the moisture is left untreated, it will slowly destroy the entire building.   Unfortunately, wet roofs become very heavy and the weighty roof has a very high chance of collapsing during an earthquake.

3.   Go through a complete earthquake retrofitting process to improve earthquake safety. 

Adding steel brace frames, continuity ties, and roof-to-wall anchors will help buildings stay together during significant tremors.  In addition, unreinforced masonry can be quite insecure and unstable when the ground is shaking.  Additional seismic retrofitting measures may include strengthening the walls with tube steel or fiber wrapping.  Earthquake retrofitting a building in Los Angeles should take into consideration the area’s terrain, current state building codes, and the original construction method used.

4.   Go beyond typical earthquake retrofitting measures to make any necessary repairs to the structural elements of the building.

Based on the issues found on the initial inspection, this may include reducing the load on key beams that are overloaded by rooftop equipment, hanging certain equipment, preventing or correcting roof condensation damage by adjusting or repairing the pattern of roof nailing, replacing or reinforcing beams that are sagging from collected water on the roof, and reinforcing or replacing aging beams that are deflecting or breaking.

Many commercial property owners in Los Angeles have found that retrofitting their building usually reduces the cost of earthquake insurance, thus making it easier to sell when the time is right.  One of the top ways to increase the marketability of a building is to improve the chance that the bank will not see the property as a risky investment. To get more information regarding an initial earthquake safety inspection or a complete earthquake retrofit, call the experienced team at Saunders Seismic Commercial Retrofit today!


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(949) 646-0034

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