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Re: porches in seismic areas

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You are correct steel tubes are not that expensive and I use them all the time.  Contractors and home owners freak out when you mention steel. They don't understand where to buy, how to use and therefore it must cost way to much is the normal response.
I tell clients all the time you can use the City or County spec for knee braced patio supports; but if you go beyond the size they recommend I will not sign or approve any knee-braced wood exceptions.
Dennis and I do most of our work within 0-15 km of the San Andreas Fault. Our area has been expecting a 6.5 - 7.5 Quake for the last 20 years.  Landers and Big Bear quakes were not on the main fault branch.
What I do when requested is install a 6x6 post inside a HSS6x6x.25 column. The tube extends 2-3 ft above ground with the post embedded 12' into steel tube. Clients put stone or brick around the tube so you see just the wood. The height of the wood depends on how many post are available.
I always consider a trellis roof as a solid roof..because within 5 years it usually is.
I sleep quite well at night.
Joe Venuti
Johnson & Nielsen Associates
Palm Springs, CA

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