Seismic Retrofit
  • Industry Terminology
    • 1. What is a soft story building?

      A soft story building is quite a common structure. Any building with more than one story, that has windows, wide doors, openings or large spaces where a shear wall might be needed for structural strength is a soft story building. A typical soft story building could be one of the following:

      • Retail buildings where the front fascia is constructed with glass
      • Ground floor parking under wood framed apartments
      • Multi-use buildings with large commercial spaces within and a tall 1st floor space (Malls, Cinemas, Office buildings etc.)

      These buildings have one or more structurally critical spaces that do not have the same level of reinforcement as the other floors or sections within the building.

    • 2. What is a seismic retrofit?

      Earthquake retrofitting, or seismic retrofitting, involves reinforcing a house so that it is less likely to be damaged during an earthquake. After your retrofit, you’re less likely to face significant damage when a natural disaster occurs. A seismic retrofit is the addition of structural enhancements that will help keep a building and its occupants safe from the effects of earthquake activity that occurs suddenly or over time. The enhancements might be as simple as straps to secure equipment or as complex as structural anchors or roofing modifications.

    • 3. What is a soft story retrofit?

      A retrofit of a soft-story building, which is a structure that has a weaker first floor and is unable to carry the weight of the stories above during an earthquake. The first floor generally would have large openings in the perimeter walls such as garages, tuck under parking or even large windows. Some cities have mandatory requirements for soft-story retrofit programs to strengthen buildings that are highly susceptible to earthquake damage.

    • 4. What is a mandatory seismic retrofit?

      A mandatory seismic retrofit is done when the City requires it to make the building safer for earthquakes, this can be something like a soft-story program, a full upgrade due to other scopes being completed, or for buildings made of brick materials.

    • 5. What is a voluntary seismic retrofit?

      A voluntary seismic retrofit is done when the City does not require but someone wants to make the building safer for earthquakes.

    • 6. What is an earthquake brace and bolt retrofit?

      Earthquake Brace and Bolt is a voluntary state-sponsored retrofit program, which provides grants for specific “building-code-compliant” seismic retrofit. This type of retrofit strengthens an older house to help prevent it from sliding off the foundation during an earthquake and is limited to only houses with crawl spaces.

  • Construction Related Queries
    • 7. Will Design Everest do the construction part of the project as well?

      No, we do not undertake the actual construction related work. We may provide you with referrals for contractors who do the construction part of the project. We do offer consultation during the construction process. We are able to support the construction phase with a Construction Administration service. It is helpful in clarifying queries from the design and engineering phases for ensuring that your project proceeds as planned.

    • 8. What is “Construction Administration”?

      “Construction Administration” are the services performed by us during construction, and are typically charged at the hourly rate. These services include things such as:

      • any site visits for structural observations or inspections to determine whether the construction is in compliance with the plans;
      • any site visits that are required to investigate existing construction conditions that were not previously visible or known to us (such as concealed utilities located in walls, conditions of existing materials and assemblies that once revealed are damaged or do not meet building codes or any other conditions that were otherwise hidden or not visible without destructive testing or invasive investigation);
      • hanges to the plans required due to the above conditions, or to account for contractor preferences, construction costs, or mistakes during construction.

      Construction Administration services are considered to be Additional Services and will be charged in addition to the fee for the Basic Services. Assistance provided such as answering requests for information (RFI’s) is also included in “Construction Administration”.

  • Submittal Of Plans To The City Or County
    • 9. Who will submit the plans to the city or county at the counter?

      Submittal is typically not included in our services. As the owner you may submit the plans we provide yourself, or often the contractor can provide this service on your behalf. In some cases, we may do the submittal on your behalf at an additional cost, subject to the location and the timing of the submittal.

    • 10. What will I need to do for the submittal if I am doing it on my own?

      We will provide you with digital plans and accompanying documents as applicable, which can then be printed and brought to the city office. Every city or jurisdiction has its own requirements for plan submittal and approval, so we suggest looking on the city website for more information on how to submit, how many copies are needed, and if there are any additional requirements. We would also advise that you get a contractor on board to review the set of plans that we will provide to you before the submittal. You should coordinate with the contractor and make sure that it addresses everything that the contractor will need. In the event of any confusion in relation to the work that we did for you, please ask us and we will guide you.

  • Change Orders And Additional Services
    • 11. What are change orders?

      Change orders are additional cost associated with work outside of the known scope of the original contract. These are not uncommon during the construction process, especially when remodelling or adding to an existing older structure. Any revisions in the plans that are necessitated due to changes in the scope of the work, code changes (changes to the California Building Code that are enacted during the course of the project), unforeseen conditions, new information provided during or after design, etc. are considered to be requests for change orders.

  • Industry Terminology
    • 1. What are the types of addition?

      Vertical addition means that we are adding on top of existing (i.e. we are expanding above the existing outline of the building, the footprint) while horizontal addition addresses expansion outside of the footprint (even if that addition is multiple stories.)

    • 2. What is a soils report?

      A geotechnical engineer or a soils engineer prepares a soils report which is based on principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate subsurface conditions and materials. This report is a determination of the relevant physical/mechanical and chemical properties of these materials. It is an evaluation of the stability of natural slopes and man-made soil deposits and an assessment of the risks posed by site conditions. The report further provides an assessment of design earthworks and structure foundations, and examines site conditions, earthwork and foundation construction.

    • 3. Do I need to provide a soils report to you?

      If you have obtained any report in the past for the plot, you do need to provide a soils report to your Customer Success Manager or the Project Manager. Even if it is not connected to this project, it is required that these reports be shared with the engineers to ensure they are designing the structure correctly. If you do not have a report already, it is not always required, but this can vary based on project scope and city restrictions.

    • 4. What is a topographical map?

      A land surveying professional (licensed surveyor) prepares a topographical map/survey, which is a determination of the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them. This survey is required to undertake most types of civil engineering work, including work in relation to additions.

Detached accessory dwelling unit (Detached ADU)
  • Industry Terminology
    • 1. What is an accessory dwelling unit?

      Accessory dwelling units or ADUs are secondary dwelling units with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. They are an innovative, affordable, effective option to increase the value and space of your home. ADUs are known by different names: granny unit, granny flat, in-law unit, in-law cottage, mother-in-law apartment, sidekick home, laneway home, backyard guesthouse, backyard cottage or secondary dwelling unit.

    • 2. What is a detached ADU?

      There are various kinds of ADUs, including:

      • Detached ADU: Detached ADU is a unit that is separated from the primary structure.
      • Attached ADU: Attached ADU is a unit that is attached to the primary structure.
      • Repurposed Existing Space: Space (e.g., garage) within the primary residence is converted into an independent living unit.
  • What are structural engineering plans?

    Structural engineering plans are a type of Engineering drawing for how a building will be built. Structural drawings are generally prepared by licensed professional engineers. They are primarily concerned with the load-carrying members of a structure. They outline the size and types of materials to be used, as well as the general demands for connections. The structural drawings communicate the design of the building’s structure to the building authority to review. These plans also become part of the contract documents which guide contractors in detailing, fabricating, and installing parts of the structure.

  • What are Title 24 energy calculations?

    Title 24 energy calculations are required in California to show that a building meets energy efficiency standards for residential and non-residential buildings, in order to reduce California’s energy consumption. Before a city or county in California grants a building permit they will ask that you submit a Title 24 energy report (also called Title 24 energy calculations).

  • Are addressing plan check comments included in your price?

    Yes! Plan check comments from the appropriate local jurisdiction on our scope of work are included in our price quote.

  • When can I get a construction quote for my project?

    The engineering plans tell your contractor how to construct your project. Once our plans are done, contractors will be able to estimate materials and labor to give you a bid for your construction.

  • What is your engineer license number?

    We have many engineers who each have their own license number. If you would like to know more about our engineers, please reach out to us and one of our Customer Success Managers can elaborate.

  • Can you refer me to contractors for my project?

    Yes! Over the years we have worked with wonderful local contractors and can refer them to you for your project.

  • What is the process after I get your plans?

    After the plans are done, they go to your city or county’s Building & Planning department for plan check. Depending on the city or county, smaller projects can sometimes be permitted over the counter. Most projects go through plan check and its duration will vary based on your local jurisdiction.

    What does the submittal of the plans entail?

    The permitting process involves bringing the physical plans and accompanying documents to the city office for submittal and review. Each jurisdiction handles this differently, but the majority will provide the opportunity to “intake” the plans into their system, and then take them to be reviewed by the department over a period of a few weeks. Others offer over the counter service for small projects.
    For submitted plans, the city will email or mail you a document with any comments they have regarding the plans, which you can then transfer to your project manager so that your design professionals can address these as needed, as well as contact information for them to coordinate with the plan checker. For over-the-counter reviews, or situations where this document is not provided, it is important to get in writing each comment that you receive from the plan checker, as well as their direct contact information, so that we can clarify any questions once reviewing the requests.
    Following each plan check, changes will be made and the affected pages will need to be resubmitted for review. Once approved, the owner may return to the city, pay any permit fees, and pick up the approved plans and permit.

    What are plan check comments?

    Plan check comments are the comments provided by the city or county following the review of the plans submitted. The plans are required to be re-submitted after addressing the plan check comments and making revisions to the plans that address each comment. The city or county issues the building permit once the revised plans are approved by them.

    Will you help address all the plan check comments given by the city or the country?

    Yes, we will address all the plan check comments on our contracted scope and provide the updated plans to you, as part of the basic services being rendered. There are some exceptions, such as when changes to the architectural drawings completed by another consultant result in a change of scope or revision to our plans. In this case, a change order may be applied. However, this situation is fairly rare, and only applicable when using additional consultants outside of Design Everest for the design.

  • How long does design and engineering work take?

    It depends on each project and the scope of work. Design and engineering can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on how involved your project is and how well you know what you want at the start of the project.

  • What information helps Design Everest put together a quote?
    • Description of the work
    • Location of the structure
    • Desired timetable
    • Built drawings (not necessary, but helpful if available)
    • Photos (not necessary, but helpful if available)
  • Do you provide free on-site evaluations?

    We do not provide free on-site evaluations. Our paid engagements may include on-site evaluations, and this fee will be part of the overall price quote we create for you. To stay competitive, we utilize our engineer's hours judiciously and only engage them for paid engagement field visits when necessary.

  • What are as-builts?

    As-built drawings are an accurate representation for both commercial and residential structures of existing conditions and typically consist of floor plans, elevations, and roof plans. We can help create detailed structural, mechanical and electrical as-builts showing structural members, plumbing fixtures, HVAC registers, power, data lighting, and electrical outlets. As-builts serve to (1) assist a design professional in their preparation of contract documents for new construction, and (2) provide an accurate reference of existing building conditions for the Building and Planning authority when seeking approval for new construction.

    What exactly are structural site surveys?

    The goal of a structural site survey is to document as much of the structural support system as possible by visual observation only (no destructive investigation). Our observations for this service are generally limited to the area of the existing structure that is being affected by the project scope, so the entire structure in typically not documented.

    Do I need a structural site survey service for my project?

    A structural site survey is typically required when you are having an addition or remodel done on your existing home and you do not have the original structural drawings for the house. There is important information needed prior to starting the project to aid in the construction process and ensure your home is structurally safe.

    Is architectural as-builts survey service required for my project?

    Architectural as-builts survey is typically required when you are in the initial planning stages of an addition or remodel on your existing home and you have neither the original architectural drawings nor have involved an architectural designer up to this point. The information gathered will be used to best determine how to layout your new/renovated space to provide you the best possible living experience.

    How soon after the contract is signed will this service be performed?

    You can typically expect a phone call to schedule the service within 2-3 days after signing the contract, which gives us the time needed to identify the best representative to assign to your project. The actual site visit can vary depending on your availability, but typically is scheduled for a day within 1-3 days of the scheduling phone call.

    What part of my house will the representative need access to for a Structural Site Survey?

    On the inside of the house, we typically need to see the areas being affected by the addition/remodel. We will also need access to wherever the attic access panel and crawl space panel (if applicable) are located. The most important aspects to this survey are verifying the roof/ceiling supports and the floor supports. Typically, photos will be taken of these spaces, along with photos of the exterior of the house.

    What part of my house will the representative need access to for an Architectural as-builts survey?

    We will typically need full access to the interior and exterior of the house. Most cities/counties require a full architectural floor plan and elevations, even if the new work being done only occurs in one area.

    Will the Design Everest representative access the crawl spaces during the structural site survey, if required?

    If the Design Everest representative is of the opinion that accessing the crawl space/entering any area/performing any procedure that may damage the property or present a danger to him or others, he may decide not to access such areas. Such decision will be at the sole discretion of the Design Everest representative. In such event, they will gather as much information as they can from the areas that are accessible, and we will use this for our design.

    Will the structural site survey/architectural as-builts survey include opening up the walls to determine the existing structure?

    Our structural engineers will not open up the walls or perform invasive testing while doing any kind of testing during their visit. The survey is meant to evaluate the visually observable conditions only. If you have engaged a contractor prior to the visit, you may have them open up some exploratory holes beforehand or be present to help do so during the visit. Our engineer can also suggest locations where these types of openings may be helpful for confirming assumptions. However, Design Everest is not responsible for any damage as a result of this exploration and cannot guarantee that this will provide necessary additional information.
    Alternatively, if you have already engaged a general contractor or can engage a general contractor, they can open up some holes in the walls to see the site conditions/framing underneath which we can factor into our drawings, to minimize the need for any changes due to unforeseen site conditions during construction.

    Will the Design Everest representative draft the plans to be submitted to the City or the county for the permit?

    The Design Everest representative will prepare as-builts, which are required to prepare the designs and plans by the architectural designer and/or the structural engineer. The architectural designer and/or the structural engineer (as applicable depending on the scope of the work) will draft such plans for submittal to the City or the county to secure the permit.

  • What is a CAD file?

    CAD stands for computer-assisted drafting, and often refers to the drawing files for a project completed in AutoCAD or a similar program. These files can be viewed and edited by our design professionals, and then exported as the final PDF version. If you do not have a CAD file, this will need to be created, either using a PDF or hand drawing (CAD Conversion), or measuring and drafting the plan manually (Architectural As- Builts).

  • Do I need to provide Design Everest with architectural as-builts in CAD format or can you prepare them for me?

    Architectural as-builts are required in CAD format to create the plan set for submittal to the city or county (as applicable). If you have a designer already, they should be able to provide the architectural as-builts in CAD format. If you are working with one of our designers, or the designer you have does not have their plans in a CAD format, we will prepare them for you. Please let the Customer Success Manager or the Project Manager know and we will make sure that this is included in our scope of work.

  • What are wet-signed documents?

    Every city or county has its own set of guidelines in relation to the format of the plans required to be submitted to them for the building permit. Some cities require the first page of plans to be wet-signed and stamped by the design professional of record. The City and County of San Francisco and the City of Mountain view are examples of jurisdictions that require wet stamped documents for all permits.

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