5 Retrofitting Tips for Mid Century Houses

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Retrofitting is taking a home and using natural resources to improve it. It can save on electricity and you can put in an air flow system instead of air conditioning. Installing southern reflectors can help to heat your home. Many of the mid century homes are very susceptible to earthquakes and the damages they cause. That is because they were built in era where building codes were not really enforced and the climate conditions were stable.

However, since the 50’s codes for buildings have improved and the in California especially they are realizing the seismic shifts. However, you don’t have to worry there are things that can be done to help your home stay safe. Most of this work is adding on to existing buildings which is called ‘retrofitting.’ It can also be called, seismic retrofitting, strengthening and bolting or bracing. The fact is that retrofitting can really reduce the amount of damage to a home when and if an earthquake happens.

If it is done in buildings it is usually in roof to walls and ties the shear walls to the roofs diaphragm. Most homes these days have issues like:

– An unstable post and beam system
– Oversized glass panels
– Bad chimneys, roof and plumbing

When an earthquake hits buildings slide on their foundations and then the damage is great.  You should have a “continuous load path” that ties your homes roof to the foundation. This is done with framing materials, metal connectors, fasteners and reinforced walls. Retrofitting can save you on your energy bills as well. Here are some retrofitting tips:

– Insulate ceiling
– Seal gaps
– Fix window openings
– Indoor plants
– Use materials like mud brick, adobe, stone, wood, straw bale, rammed earth.

Most mid century homes need to have the heating, electrical and plumbing retrofitted. Most have the boiler and furnace replaced.  Today, it is more central heat and air. Some mid century homes need to have duct work installed which can be difficult. Another thing to think about is the insulation around the windows and doors. This can allow heat out and the cool air in. Retrofitting windows and doors are not as difficult and most of the parts can be found at any improvement stores.
There are other things to consider when you are retrofitting a home. You have to secure appliances, furniture and big mirrors to the floors and walls. Make sure you know where the shut offs are located for gas, water and electricity. Put all hazardous materials in locked cabinets or lower shelves. Make sure you have any emergency kit with food and other materials that you and your family may need in case of an emergency.

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