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Published February 2006 | Published
Journal Article Open

Cost-Effectiveness of Stronger Woodframe Buildings


We examine the cost-effectiveness of improvements in woodframe buildings. These include retrofits, redesign measures, and improved quality in 19 hypothetical woodframe dwellings. We estimated cost-effectiveness for each improvement and each zip code in California. The dwellings were designed under the CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project. Costs and seismic vulnerability were determined on a component-by-component basis using the Assembly Based Vulnerability method, within a nonlinear time-history structural-analysis framework and using full-size test specimen data. Probabilistic site hazard was calculated by zip code, considering site soil classification, and integrated with vulnerability to determine expected annualized repair cost. The approach provides insight into uncertainty of loss at varying shaking levels. We calculated present value of benefit to determine cost-effectiveness in terms of benefit-cost ratio (BCR). We find that one retrofit exhibits BCRs as high as 8, and is in excess of 1 in half of California zip codes. Four retrofit or redesign measures are cost-effective in at least some locations. Higher quality is estimated to save thousands of dollars per house. Results are illustrated by maps for the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions and are available for every zip code in California.

Additional Information

© 2006 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (Received 13 May 2004; accepted 5 May 2005) The research was performed with funding by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, and Caltech's George W. Housner Fund. Tom Boyd, Kelly Cobeen, Robert Reitherman, James Russell, and Hope Seligson provided valuable advice and assistance throughout the project. The research also greatly benefited from the help of Vanessa Camello, Ken Campbell, Ken Compton, André Filiatrault, Bryan Folz, Bill Graf, Hiroshi Isoda, David Johnson, David McCormick, Goetz Schierle, Ed Sylvis, Tom Tobin, and Ray Young. John Hall was the overall PI of the CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project. The contributions of all these individuals and organizations are gratefully acknowledged.

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