Thursday, February 9, 2012

Earthquake Retro-Fitting Conundrum

Arrrrrgh!!!!

So, for those of you following along, after we got the basement gutted we realized that there is no earthquake retro-fitting done...

Big, tall, long, skinny Victorian sitting on a great new foundation with no Earthquake retro-fitting...
Super Duper.
Since we plan to grow old and die in this place (we mean it this time REALLY!!!) the chances of a good shaker happening are pretty much 100% so earthquake retro-fitting is not optional.

I took a course in DIY earthquake retro-fitting several years ago...Codes have changed since then but basically for a three story house you need to apply plywood shear walls to oh, 80% of the exterior walls.

Here's a pic of the approved floor plan for the basement 3-2 apartment.


Does anybody see anyway in H-E-double hockey sticks I can do that?
Stupid windows letting in all that light and allowing for egress...

The red lines are the places where I think its possible to apply plywood shear walls.
The green lines are where I think its reasonably possible to do without jumping through ridiculous hoops...
Even if I did all the red areas that still would be far below what I need.

Time To Call In The Pros
I've so far had two well respected Earthquake retro-fitting contractors come in and check out the space...
In a nutshell they both said the same thing....
That because of the existing conditions that they would only want to shear the green areas.
Theres just two much stuff in the way at the red areas.
They also both said that the building is too complicated for them to do the job without an engineered plan....

It Gets Better
Guess what the WAG's from the contractors were?
~$20k plus engineering and permit fee's!!!
I've talked seriously with one engineer so far and he wants $1000 to do the site visit and work up a plan and an additional ~$6k to do the plans for the permit!?!?!?

Holy-Freaking Moly.....where are we going to come up with an additional ~$30k to have the pros do this?

My Ideal Solution
Find an engineer who can figure out a way to strengthen just the green areas and have that magically be enough and have the solution be something that I can do myself....oh, and have the engineers fee's cost A LOT less than $7k.....

No Problem Right? 

Hurray for our Dream House!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How Best To Build A 1hr Fire Rated Soffit?

I need a good method to build 1hr fire rated soffits. Anybody got any good ideas?

Currently the soffits look like this.

These are wrong because the wall behind and the joist bay above is not fire stopped.
I've talked to my BI and he says to use 5/8" firecode drywall on the underside of the joist bay and on the wall.

Okay, that seems easy enough, but in practice how are things like this done? I've never built one before.

I will have to build at least two soffits, probably on either side of the center load bearing wall to conceal the HVAC trunk lines. Actually, I haven't been able to decide on the best way to run the soffits...got any ideas?

HVAC Duct Diagram

Was that easy to understand? It wasn't for me first couple of times I looked at it.
This is two separate systems. One for the basement apartment and one for the main floor of the house.
How best to proceed?
It seems like I have to remove the existing soffit framing.
Then install the Sheetrock on the underside of the joists and the wall studs, but only the part where the soffit will be.
Then run my HVAC trunk line with top take-offs that penetrate the fire-stopping.
Then run what ever else I need to in the same area.
I would like to use this soffit as a chase for everything I can (no drilling through joists if I can help it). I can envision running water, gas, low-voltage lines (cable, Ethernet, phone) and romex.
As long as I correctly firestop the penetrations of the soffit is there a reason not to do this?

Simple Soffit Construction?
Then after everything is run in the soffit area I would build and attach the bottom and the one side.
I think I remember reading somewhere about a simple method to do this.
No elaborate 2by4 framing but I can't remember where I read about it.
I mean, the 'framing' of the soffit only needs to be strong enough to support the 5/8" drywall right?

Anybody got any helpful ideas?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Foundation Information Overload!!!

I wish....

Went down to the building dept yesterday to try to find any documentation on the foundation redo here at Chez Neumansky 3.0.
Last time I went down, about six months ago, they didn't have anything for it! It was apparently lost in a nether world or something?

This time they had it scanned into the computer and the very, very nice people at the dept printed out what they had for me to look at.......

Behold the super detailed, high-tech document that got you a foundation permit in '01....

Yep, that's it....well, maybe not, but this was the only bit from the finaled foundation permit that was scanned in....so maybe there was more documentation originally and it got misplaced??? I doubt it....

No footing sections, no rebar schedule, no slab section...no nothing...
How, is this enough to get a permit for a foundation redo? Blows me away...

The city has minimum standards for foundations on their website.
http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/getdoc.cfm?id=168

Lets just hope that with it being inspected and approved by a city inspector that we got at least the 2 story foundation..though I am hoping that its the 3-story version.

Crazy right? The most important thing holding this house up and this is all the docs the city has kept on it....