We have a simple process for every retrofit client we work with. We try to set expectations and our work is broken down into six phases: Initial conversation, assessment, engineering and design, permitting, production, and documentation.
Initial Conversation and Consultation
In our initial conversation, we will discuss the conditions of your home and its type of construction. We will also discuss the basics of the retrofit process, the work that would be involved, ballpark pricing and any expectations you, the homeowner, may have.
From there we can determine if it makes sense to schedule an assessment or possibly provide consultation if you plan on completing the work yourself. We provide a free assessment in Seattle and most north-end areas whether you have a finished basement or not. In further areas where it may require some travel, we may require an assessment fee. You will know if there will be a fee required before we have our meeting.
The first step in our work is a field assessment of your home. We spend an extended amount of time to determine what would be the most cost-efficient approach for the most effective retrofit. Once we have documented the existing conditions, we will give you a detailed list of strengthening measures we suggest and the overall scope of work. We provide a fixed price cost for the entire project; Plans, permitting, engineering and design, and all the structural work for your project. We also provide finish replacement if this is the route you would like to go. We have an exceptional drywall team that is the best in the business. We are a one-stop provider for all your homes retrofit needs.
You are under no obligation to make a decision, and should feel no pressure during and after the assessment. In most cases, we will leave you with a copy of the construction agreement. These fixed price agreements are typically good for 90 days.
Engineering and Design
If you have decided to move forward and hire us to complete your retrofit, in most cases a structural engineer is needed to design a retrofit specific to your homes conditions. If this is the route which best fits your needs, we will hire our top notch, outside structural engineering firm to assess your home for structural weaknesses, in order to offer the safest and most cost-effective solution for your needs. Our engineering firm specializes in seismic retrofitting and has designed thousands of different projects, each with its own unique details and conditions. They provide a very detailed design, which leads to a smooth transition once we apply for the building permit.
The current guidelines for earthquake retrofit work typically involve two to four different connection details for existing construction depending on your homes conditions. It is important to have an engineering firm that is familiar with current building codes and retrofit design as an engineer that is not experienced in seismic retrofitting may overbuild plans, costing their clients considerably more in retrofit costs.
In 1998, the City of Seattle developed a pre-engineered set of plans designed for homeowners to retrofit their own homes. These plans are called “Project Impact” or “SEHR” (Standard Earthquake Home Retrofit). If your home qualifies and meets all the criteria, it eliminates the need to hire an engineer (which lowers the cost of the project); provides a fast-track permitting procedure to accomplish the retrofit work; and offers training for both homeowners and contractors.
Once the engineering and design has been completed, the next step of your project would be to apply for a building permit. In Seattle and most other jurisdictions, a building permit is required for a seismic retrofit upgrade. We will complete all the documentation, applications and plan preparation to obtain the building permit. The city will review all of our documentation and engineering and make any corrections if needed.
Once the project is completed and all of the inspections have been passed, the homeowner will obtain the original copy of the building permit for documentation.
Production / Work Begins
After we have scheduled a convenient date and provided you with an estimated duration for your project, our team will start the structural work. We will mobilize all tools, set up dust protection, and complete the finish removal. We will follow the engineering and complete the retrofit per plan.
Most projects require two inspections; structural inspections and final inspections.
structural Inspection: If your project requires two inspections, the structural inspection will come first. This inspection is required for homes that have pony or cripple walls that are to be covered up with plywood shear panels. City inspectors review the plans to make sure everything corresponds with the work. They inspect all anchor bolts, hold-downs, framing, insulation, electrical and plumbing before the walls will be covered up permanently. We schedule all the inspections and meet with the inspectors.
Final Inspection: Once all of the structural work has been completed, a final inspection is required. For this inspection, inspectors review all the plywood and nailing patterns, side anchor plates and shear transfer ties. Upon completion of the final inspection, the signed off inspection report is issued and remains with the homeowner for documentation.
If you decide to have us complete the finish replacement once the retrofit has been completed and we’ve passed all required inspections, we will schedule our team to complete the finish replacement as-soon-as-possible. We will ensure that all dust protection is properly installed before the finish team comes out to compete the work. Our team does an excellent job matching new material to existing surfaces. Whether it’s drywall, siding or interior wall paneling, once the finish replacement is completed it will look like we had never been there.
Final Cleanup and Walk-through
We will complete a final cleanup and we can guarantee that your home will be cleaner than before we arrived. We will then schedule a walk-through with the homeowner and review our scope of work to make sure everything has been covered on our check-list before we walk off the job. We guarantee 100% customer satisfaction.
All homeowners will receive the original copy of the permit, engineering plans, and inspection sign-off sheet. Once final payment has been received, we will provide the homeowner with a “certificate of completion” document for earthquake insurance or resale purposes. Some earthquake insurance providers may also require additional documentation before you can obtain this insurance which we can provide as well.
Matt came out to see if our house needs a retrofit and I was absolutely blown away by his honesty, knowledge and professionalism. He advised against retrofitting our house due to the newer age of the home but did provide me with a tonne of useful information that I did not come across during my research and while speaking with other retrofit companies.