John is a building owner in Garden Grove, California. To preserve the equity in
his building he decided to perform a seismic retrofit as protection in the event
of an earthquake. He then obtained quotes from several structural engineers
tasked with preparing plans for the project. After reviewing the engineering
quotes he selected a firm.
Some time passed and he was ready to begin retrofit. He called the contractors, stating that the plans were drafted, and he was ready to move forward with the project.
On first review of the plans, the contractor became concerned. He noticed that the plans were over engineered in some locations, and called for weak connections in some of the most important areas of the building.
The current plans would cause retrofit costs to be double the normal costs, while not changing the PML (Probable Maximum Loss.) Probable Maximum Loss is a figure used by lenders and insurance companies to describe their risk. This value is defined by the total maximum likely building loss in the event of an earthquake.
The contractor called John to request re-drafting the plans by an engineer familiar with seismic retrofitting. This would save John time and money on the retrofit. John declined, stating his concern about the time required in re-drafting the plans and the imminent possibility of an earthquake resulting in the potential loss of his building.
Thus, the contractor pressed forward under the current plans. During the process of retrofit, numerous discrepancies arose between the engineer’s plans and the actual building design. These were sent to the engineer for clarification. A response was not received due to the engineer’s inability to answer the technical questions and he was becoming ill, so the project was stalled.
This dilemma caused the contractor to re-engage John about the use of another engineer. John agreed, so Saunders called upon a qualified engineer to modify the remainder of the details that had not yet been installed.
With this plan modification, the qualified engineer and the contractor were able to reduce the overall costs by $40,000, which included the new engineering fees. This was an 18% savings. Had the building owner obtained a qualified engineer from the outset, this could have resulted in a 50% savings or more.
The bulk of a seismic retrofit’s costs exist in the retrofit, thus hiring an experienced engineer to draft the plans will reduce the cost of retrofit. The reduced cost will naturally cover their fees, decreasing your overall costs.
In addition, working with a retrofit company familiar with the type of project you have allows a secondary review before implementation.