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Re: Seismic Upgade of Older Structue

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As Thor mentioned, the code used depends on the intent and on the building official.  if this structure is indeed considered "historic," then the IEBC or a recent version of the UCBC could be argued for acceptance.  All that would gain are some minimal upgrades required and (likely) a lower design force, such as V = 0.10 W.

If this is "voluntary," then Ch. 34 would be an appropriate source for guidance.

Regardless, you would be looking at adding at least one interior line of resistance, checking collectors and chords, adding ply/OSB sheathing overlay at the roof, and checking sub-diaphragms.  If it's a tilt-up, then perhaps some NDT and DT is necessary to verify footing/panel connections and chord splices.

On Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 8:54 AM, Thor Matteson <thorm(--nospam--at)> wrote:

What code you use depends on whether this is a voluntary retrofit or
one mandated by the AHJ.  You say the owner "wishes to upgrade" to
current code.  As you allude, you really can't get from a 1920's
building to "current code" without what a friend refers to as a
"blade remodel"--where you lower the blade of a D-7 at one corner of
the building and proceed to the opposite corner.

If the retrofit is voluntary, CBC Chapter 34 says you can do anything
you want (structurally) to the existing building elements as long as
you're not weakening it.  I see lots of retrofits that were done
voluntarily where no harm may have been done, but hardly any good was
done either--but there are a whole lot of shiny metal connectors
installed  that *look* really impressive to owners, realtors, buyers,
and news media (engineers were not usually involved in these

You're probably looking at new plywood roof sheating, some new
interior shear walls, drag struts here and there, diaphragm chord
reinforcement, roof-to-wall connections, and maybe elements to
reinforce the existing concrete walls for both in-plane and
out-of-plane loads.  Fun stuff :-)

Good luck,

Thor Matteson, SE

>From: Larry Hauer [mailto:lhauer(--nospam--at)]
>Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 1:34 PM
>To: Struct. Eng. Assoc.
>Subject: Seismic Upgade of Older Structue
>I have been asked to investigate an existing one story commercial
>building =
>with dimensions of 31'x 124' and a wood framed roof and exterior
>concrete w=
>alls. No plans are available, but documentation indicates the
>building was =
>built in the 1920's. The structure is in Southern California.
>The owner wishes to seismically upgrade the building to meet current
>code s=
>tandards, (2007 CBC). There are existing materials such as 1x
>straight roof=
> sheathing which has no value in the current code. Am I allowed to
>use valu=
>es for existing materials such as those found in the old 1997 UCBC,
>(Table =
>A-1-D), or maybe values found in some other codes such as the
>Historic Buil=
>ding Code, or are these values no longer valid since these codes are
>Thanks in advance,
>Larry Hauer S.E.

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