THE TEARDOWN TREND
There is nothing new about seeing a single family house being torn down and replaced by a larger, more modern house. When a homeowner has a house in a desirable neighborhood from which he doesn’t want to move away and his circumstances require more space, he has two choices — build an addition, usually a second story addition, or replace the entire house with a new one. It is really nothing new, I’ve made a living for 40 years designing and engineering such additions and remodels or even a new house for the home owner, but there is a new trend emerging and it is not only in the Los Angeles market.
EARTHQUAKE COMING? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
When the earth shakes in California, the first place you are likely to hear about it is on social media. “Earthquake!” “Did you feel that?” “How big?” Are the common messages on Twitter and Facebook as Californians try to share information on cell phones in real time while heading under a sturdy table to protect themselves from falling objects? But wouldn’t you rather to hear about the upcoming earthquake before it happens and prepare for it? Well, turns out there’s an app for that.
Recently I’ve spent another vacation in Hawaii. This was not my first trip there, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve visited Hawaii. I got married on the sandy “Shipwreck beach” area of Kauai, barefooted Hawaiian style, and I know there will be many more trips there. It is just a magical place, a true paradise on earth. I believe I’ve seen everything an avid traveler can see on every island of Hawaii. At least I thought I did. This time there was something new that caught my eye and it was not nature’s beauty.
There is a little known aid to homeowners who want to make their homes safer in a devastating earthquake. But hang in here, because it’s a loooonnnggggg explanation.
One of the safest places in an earthquake is your own wooden, one-story house. There is very little chance that somebody in a single family wooden home will be killed in an earthquake. The reason is that these types of homes are pretty flexible. They move but regain their shape, more or less, after an earthquake. Older houses are built on concrete footings with concrete walls, (so called stem walls) and the wooden structure – beginning with the first wooden member the so called “mud sill” or today’s technical term, the “sill plate” – sits on top of this concrete. The term “mud sill” comes from the old way of building this particular member. In the old days concrete contractors called concrete “mud” and laid the first horizontal 2×6 wooden member, the sill, into the wet “mud” where it made a very strong bond by penetrating into the wood while the concrete cured. They did not connect this “mud sill” at all to the concrete footing with any type of steel hardware. The result is that these types of homes have been excessively damaged in earthquakes as early as the San Francisco quake in 1906, as well as subsequent earthquakes.
In a recent article I wrote about the effects Airbnb and other short term rental websites create on the construction industry. In a nutshell, I suggested that these short-term rentals are taking regular-long term rental units off the market, because landlords, home owners and many other “short-term rental managers” are using regular long-term units for short term rentals. This creates two effects.