Residential Earthquake Retrofits in BC by Shear Seismic Retrofits

About Us

Founder Marney Mutch

Founder Marney Mutch

Shear Seismic specializes in the design and installation of residential seismic retrofits to protect homes from destruction that could cause injury and massive hardship, financial and otherwise, to families and other occupants. Seismic retrofits consist of a series of structural upgrades mostly performed in the basements and crawlspaces of older houses built on raised foundations. The company was founded by Marney Mutch in the wake of the Japan and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes which were a wake-up call to what could happen to our own homes.

We now have a better idea first hand. During the recent 4.7 earthquake,  just offshore from Sidney BC, residents from as far way as the Fraser Valley experienced force that felt and sounded like a truck crashing in their home. Each increment of 1.0 magnitude represents 31.6 x the force and 10x the shaking.

We also can assist you with non-structural upgrades, that is the seismic bracing of furnishings, appliances, cupboards and table top items. If you are going to invest in a seismic retrofit, go the extra mile to make sure you are not badly injured or killed by something that could easily have been secured in place. It was a falling TV that tragically took the life of one little guy in Japan. Be sure you are all safe.

Touring California retrofits with structural engineer

Studying San Francisco retrofits with structural engineer/author

Specialized Retrofit Training

Retrofitting houses can be made to sound quite rudimentary: some bolts, plywood and metal brackets.  In practice, there is enough detail to fill over 550 book pages. Yet there is no shear wall construction or seismic retrofit training available in Canada.

It is through Marney’s 2-year mentorship by the Berkeley, California structural engineer who authored both books and expert retrofitters in the San Francisco area, that Shear Seismic is able deliver its service with the knowledge of seismic engineering principles and advanced retrofit design and installation techniques.

Without this training, contactors must rely entirely on structural engineers for direction, or follow U.S. cookie-cutter guidelines for basic 4-sided houses with either no cripple walls or consistent perimeter walls of maximum 4 feet in height.

Custom Designed, Engineer-Approved Retrofits

Shear Seismic is uniquely qualified to specialize in seismic retrofits for homes with:

  • stepped foundations (homes on unlevelled grades and hillsides)
  • need for anchorage to resist overturning forces
  • open concept main floor design
  • sunken living rooms
  • garages supporting living space
  • with finished basements and secondary suites
  • split levels
  • quirky construction features eg. inaccessible or double sill plates (the wood sitting on the concrete that bolts go through), missing rim joists, balloon framing
  • built on posts and piers

Budget Consciousness

Our proposals outline what we believe will resist 7.0+ earthquakes in the most cost-effective way.  As mentioned, we do not utilize standardized retrofit plans which call for more than what is actually needed. We know how to use your retrofit dollars efficiently to get the best protection.  If what we propose is beyond your immediate reach, you may wish to have it completed in stages in order of highest risk.

Commitment to Quality Seismic Retrofits

Our assurance is that a) only  laboratory tested and approved shear wall construction methods to strengthen your home, and b) all crew are specially trained seismic principles.  All hardware we use has been tested, approved and rated by the International Code Council Evaluation Service for seismic applications. As seismic retrofit contractors we know that the work we do saves lives. We take that to heart.

Retrofit Drawing, Photos & Certificate

When we are done we will provide you with a final drawing, photographic record of your retrofit and a retrofit certificate. If you sell your home, this will be very important to have on hand for the new owners. Insurance companies, we hope, will offer breaks on earthquake insurance to owners who can demonstrate a quality retrofit.

Support for Do-It-Yourselfers

We offer design and consulting services to homeowners with the carpentry skills and will to the installation themselves. Retrofitting guides one may find are often not so easy to apply to a real home and generally apply only to simple home designs.

Public Education / Guest Speaking

If your community or business group is interested to learn more about benefits and methods of home retrofitting, we can be counted on for a lively and informative presentation about retrofitting homes.

We want you SAFE!

Wouldn’t it be nice to got to sleep each night knowing your home will be one of the safest refuges in an strong earthquake…that it has been strengthened to survive the vigorous shaking of a very strong earthquake? Know that ANY upgrading you do is better than none.