Letter Re: Caution on Masonry Construction in Earthquake Zones

Friday, Dec 9, 2005

Mr. Rawles:
You recently advised your preference for masonry, adobe, and rammed-earth retreat construction for the obvious ballistic protection and I agree. But here in northern Idaho and Montana we have recently experienced increased earthquake activity and you might caution your loyal readership to visit the excellent USGS website http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/states/idaho/hazards.html which provides detailed USA earthquake zone maps. Three million folks in Pakistan are now presently homeless because their bullet-proof houses crumbled after the earthquake. Before anyone builds their retreat they should also learn about California earthquake building codes and how to add inexpensive metal strapping to wood construction so their retreat does not also become their coffin in the event of an earthquake. Simpson Strongtie Corp's website http://www.strongtie.com/products/strongwall/index.html?source=topnav is the industry standard for hardening construction. Regards, - "Book"

JWR Replies: In that impoverished part of the world they are famous for building masonry buildings with reinforcement, since re-bar is expensive--at least by Third World standards. But I definitely agree that regardless of how much re-bar you might add, a wood frame house is much more suitable than masonry in earthquake country.

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