Stilt homes are homes that are raised on stilts or piles over the surface of the soil. Having gained popularity in the late 1950s and early 1960s, these homes were a way of developing steep hillside lots that were otherwise deemed unbuildable.
To this day, such homes are found scattered all over the hills of Los Angeles and the southern rim of the San Fernando Valley. Stilt homes owed their popularity to their inexpensive design and the solution that they offered to the problem of constructing on steep hillside lots. Despite this, they do have a number of structural vulnerabilities that warrant regular maintenance and frequent repairs.
As most of the stilt homes seen today were built in the 1950s, their construction is in accordance with the hillside building codes of the time. Then regulations required them to be built on what is now called shallow piles. These types of piles are now outdated as they were found to be insufficient in withstanding the natural sloping movement of the hillside.
Stilt homes, owing to their design, are generally lacking in lateral support. This results in far greater damage during earthquakes, as the structure is unable to withstand lateral motion.
Stilt homes inherently have a weaker structural system, which makes them prone to rotting of wood stilts, loosened steel cables, rusting of steel stilts, etc.
Normally, a stilt home has a support system that is built out of two or more stilts that are braced diagonally with cables or rods forming an X-shape. This structure is responsible for holding the building aloft. In some houses, the floor beams are fixed to the street-level foundation, while in many cases, they are not.
It was found after the 1994 Northridge earthquake that most of the stilt homes that collapsed during the earthquake were ones that were not attached to the street-level foundation. The 1996 Los Angeles Building Code thereafter made it mandatory for all new stilt homes to have their floor beams attached to the street-level foundation. Existing stilt homes undergoing reconstruction worth 50% more than their value are also obligated to follow this requirement. Stilts can be strengthened or reinforced by adding diagonal braces or plywood walls in between the stilts. Additional bracings are also added at the corners beneath the main structure. Schedule a consultation with Alpha Structural today to take care of your stilt home reinforcement needs.
Since stilt homes are built on flexible stilts that are not capable of standing up well to ground movement, it is crucial to get them reinforced to provide them with the additional support that they need.
Stilt homes that do not have their floor beams attached to the street-level foundation are at a much greater risk of collapse as their floors may slide off and down the slope during an earthquake. Stilt home reinforcement can prevent such things from happening, ensuring that your home is prepared to resist seismic activity with zero to minimal damage. The team of stilt home reinforcement experts here at Alpha Structural will ensure that your home is sturdy and can withstand all kinds of calamities.
Adding a lower-level addition to a home or structure can be a creative alternative solution to stilt home reinforcement, particularly when it comes to complying with the Los Angeles Building Code. If feasible, not only does the lower-level addition fulfill code requirements, but it also adds to the curb appeal and resale value of the property, as well as providing more functionality. Ask your Alpha Structural technicians about the potential for a lower-level addition during your consultation to learn more.
Alpha Structural, in addition to having been in business for over 25 years, has upwards of 850 years of combined technical experience. Our in-house engineers and technicians are among the most experienced in Los Angeles and all of Southern California. If you would like to know more about stilt home reinforcement, call or email today to schedule a consultation.
If your stilt home is old and not built in accordance with the current regulations, then reinforcement is strongly advised. Due to their unique structure, stilt homes also require regular maintenance and repairs.
The approximate cost of stilt home reinforcement depends on the extent of work it would take to address all its structural vulnerabilities. If you are interested in learning more, email or call Alpha Structural to set up an inspection and get an estimate.
A foundation is more than just the bottom floor of your property. It is the base that supports everything you work so hard to protect. At Alpha Structural, Inc., we treat each project with that level of responsibility and respect. That’s why families and businesses across Los Angeles choose us to protect the structures that protect them. If you want your foundation built to the Alpha Standard, contact us today to schedule an inspection.