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Learned about foundations... - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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Learned about foundations... [Jan. 25th, 2010|11:47 am]
John
1) Structural engineers *have* to warn you if they think you're in a seismically active area, and they don't see modern earthquake safety.

2) No, "it's stood for 100 years" isn't good logic for this kind of thing, any more than "my application's been running fine for a year" is good logic to say that it shouldn't be broken now.

3) Relatively cheap and easy foundation improvements can be eye-poppingly expensive

But

4) "It *has* stood for 100 years, and I haven't seen anything causing me to suspect incipient failure" *is* a good recommendation, *if* I'm lucky enough to avoid earthquakes for a bit - it's the unpredictability of earthquakes that's the issue here.

So, in short, if I buy this house, I'm risking failure in the event of an earthquake; no one would build a house like this, not these days, not in Renton. But, while I shouldn't forget that, most 100 year old houses are probably going to have the same problem (since people didn't have modern building codes 100 years ago). Meaning, if I want a nice house in Downtown Renton, I'm looking at low earthquake safety.

In the fullness of time, I'll probably want to spend the ungodly amounts of money to put a better foundation on the house. But, it doesn't have to be next week, or next year... unless there's a major quake. It's a risk, and a real risk, but an acceptable one, from my perspective.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: karenkay
2010-01-25 08:13 pm (UTC)
That's where a slab sounds more appealing to me! At least it can't cave in if one of the piers fail. Or even worse, one of the beams.
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[User Picture]From: grey_lady
2010-01-25 08:22 pm (UTC)
What, if anything, does it do to house insurance rates?
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2010-01-26 04:34 am (UTC)
In my experience (as an owner of another 100-year-old house in the Pacific Northwest): not much, as compared with, say, risks from flooding, an old electrical system or a bad roof. Any down-side from older construction standards will very likely be balanced in the eyes of insurers by the fact that the house is on the flatlands, and not on a steep slope (of which there are many in the Seattle area), and made of wood as opposed to, say, brick.
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