Questions to Ask Your Structural Engineer About Earthquakes and Their Potential Impact on Your Building

27 September 2017
 Categories: , Blog

Although there hasn't been a major earthquake in Australia since 1989, you may still want to have earthquake safety in the back of your mind if you are commissioning a building. In fact, you may even want to consult with a structural engineer who specializes in earthquake engineering. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

What Do the Local Building Codes Say?

When you are putting up any kind of structure, you need to ensure that it meets local building codes. The code in your area may have specific guidelines about earthquakes. Your engineering consultant can help you figure out the relevant codes and what you need to keep in mind during the building process.

In particular, you may want to ask the engineer what severity of earthquakes the design is able to withstand.

What Would Be Involved in Creating a Structure That Exceeds Those Codes?

In most cases, building codes are written to reflect the risks in that area. If you are worried about earthquakes, you may want to go above and beyond the local codes. However, that may require more planning, a more complicated design and special materials.

You may want to ask your engineer to give you an estimate of what that's going to cost. Then, you can assess if the extra effort is worth the extra expense or not.

What Is the Expected Seismic Performance of Your Current Design?

If you already have a plan for your building, the above questions may not apply. Instead, you may want to have a structural engineer look at your designs and give you estimates on what is likely to happen if an earthquake takes place.

Ideally, you want the seismic performance to hold the building together in the event of a large earthquake. For instance, a situation where the building may get damaged but won't totally collapse can be ideal. If the engineer can't assure you of that, you may want to get a new design.

What Risks Do Nearby Structures Pose?

If your structural engineer creates a building that is poised to withstand an earthquake, it may still get crushed by nearby structures. To ensure that your investment is protected, you may want your engineer to do a survey of the surrounding structures. That can help you assess some of the additional risks your building may face and ensure that you choose the safest spot for your building.  

Contact a company like Jeffrey Hills and Associates for more information and assistance.