Is your apartment earthquake resistant?

earthquake2With the earthquake once again hitting the Northern belt of India and creating mass destruction in Nepal, a very big question that comes in everyone’s mind is how earthquake resistant are apartments or individual houses? Is one safe in the current house or apartment one is staying currently?

Based on the frequency of earthquake occurrence and its intensity, India has been divided into various zones. These zones point at the seismic coefficient that are adopted for building design across the country.

The earthquake zones have been divided based on the subjective estimates available from tectonics and geologists in India.

The Northern belt and specifically Delhi/NCR lies in zone IV that has high seismicity wherein the earthquake that occurs is generally of 5-6 magnitude. The one that came yesterday, May 12, Tuesday was very high of about 7.3 magnitude in Nepal, which damaged the buildings up to a great extent. Delhi/NCR also got some major jolts from the earthquake. Moreover, it lies among the high-risk areas prone to earthquakes. The buildings in Delhi/NCR must be designed in such a way that they can at least resist earthquake of about 4.5 magnitudes on a Richter scale. However, are the buildings earthquake resistant? How do you check before buying an apartment or an individual house?

Before buying how to check whether a multi-storey flat will be earthquake resistant or not? 

When you are buying a flat in a multi-storey building, it’s almost impossible for you to check whether you are buying a flat in an earthquake resistant building or not. So, mostly you have to just trust the builder’s take on this. As per experts, every flat cannot be tested whether it is earthquake resistant or not. However, the entire building can be tested for earthquake resistance. Get the building structural design from the builder and ask the experts to check the same. In case, approved you can go ahead with your buying process. However, ensure the builder uses quality construction material.

Before buying a plot how to check whether the house built on a plot will be earthquake resistant or not?

If you are planning to buy a plot to build a house on the same, you have a golden chance to make your house earthquake resistant. The most important in this case, would be soil testing as it will typically, indicate how much weight the soil would be able to bear, clearly pointing to the number of floors that can be built on the land. Essentially, it would help you measure the “weight bearing capacity” of the soil.

These days frame structure is used as an alternative to the load-bearing structure for building houses resistant to earth quakes. As a result, the entire building is grounded on a column, which is placed 2 ½ meters under the ground. Moreover, it is essential to insert beam in floor and lintel level, top level and windows in side level. The bars in the column should be minimum 12 mm thick with about 900/900 foundation.

Who can help you do the soil testing?

 There are quite a few private and semi-government agencies that do soil testing. This task is also performed by autonomous insurance surveyors. Some of the answers you would get from soil testing –

  • How much per-square centimeter load can the soil afford?
  • Is the house construction possible on the soil type?
  • Accurate ratio of weight bearing capacity and water level?

After testing and investigation, the Surveyor and Building Design Structural Department issue a clearance certificate. In case, any major damage is caused to the building the concerned department is bound to be held responsible for the same.

Ensure you make your house earthquake-resistant and full-proof yourself from the unexpected costs that may arise due to a major earthquake.