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EARTHQUAKE SAFETY INCLUDED IN LATEST BUILDING CODES

 EARTHQUAKE SAFETY INCLUDED IN LATEST BUILDING CODES
 ST. LOUIS, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- New homes built in the United


States can be made strong enough to protect people against earthquakes at a very reasonable cost, according to a study sponsored by the Insurance Research Council.
 "Many homes already meet the earthquake standards now being added to state and local building codes, and our study indicates that most other new homes can be brought into compliance for less than 1 percent of their sales price," says Donald Segraves, the council's executive director, in a report today to an earthquake mitigation workshop for the central and eastern United States.
 Segraves added that steps taken to strengthen homes against earthquakes also will make them more resistant to damage from hurricanes, tornadoes and other windstorms.
 The council, a non-profit research organization that studies risk and insurance issues, hired the National Association of Home Builders Research Center to obtain house plans from builders in five cities with earthquake exposure: St. Louis, Memphis, Seattle, Boston and Charleston, S.C. Each builder provided two sets of plans -- one representative of their typical home and another plan of a more unique design. J.R. Harris and Co. of Denver, a structural engineering firm, reviewed the 10 plans and indicated the structural changes that would be needed to meet the new seismic code requirements, which have been added to all of the model building codes used by states and cities. Experts at NAHB then estimated the cost to home buyers of making the recommended structural changes, including any engineering fees that might be involved.
 "In general, homes with conventional designs required only minor changes in order to provide earthquake life safety for their occupants. The most typical change needed was to shorten up the spacing of anchor bolts used to fasten the home to its foundation," said Segraves. He added that some of the more expensive custom designed homes required additional changes, either to strengthen the foundations or to offset the weakening effect of numerous openings cut into exterior walls for windows, doors and decorative feature.
 The NAHB's cost estimates for the changes ranged from $8 to $1,985, with the higher numbers applying to homes selling for $240,000 or more.
 Segraves said homes built with all wood frame construction would be less affected by the new code requirements than homes with substantial masonry elements, including brick and concrete block.
 "The good news is that we now have national standards for making homes safe in an earthquake, and the added costs are quite reasonable," said Segraves. "The bad news is that only 24 states have mandatory statewide building codes for homes. The remaining 26 states have a variety of codes adopted by cities and counties, with some areas having no building codes at all or out-of-date codes that don't provide adequate protection."
 He added that lack of enforcement also is a major problem, both for earthquake and windstorm codes.
 -0- 9/10/92
 /CONTACT: Donald Segraves or Elizabeth Sprinkel, 708-572-1177, for Insurance Research Council/ CO: Insurance Research Council ST: Illinois IN: INS SU:


PS -- NYFNS4 -- 7793 09/10/92 07:31 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 10, 1992
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