Property Guide

How Safe Are Our Homes from Earthquake Damage?

How safe are our homes from earthquake damage

Still adjusting my overly confused body clock here in Paris this morning, I almost jumped out of my bed when I saw a long series of Facebook posts from my friends and selling partners from Cebu and Bohol. Heartbreaking photos of devastated communities and hair-raising videos from CCTVs capturing, frame by frame, the actual crumbling of structures. An early morning 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook Bohol and Cebu and roused still sleeping citizens, sending them out on the streets while others seeking cover in whatever they trust could protect them from falling debris.

We live in a country that lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire and, hence, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions sort of come with the territory. It is not a matter of if but of when an earthquake will occur. Therefore, it is really a must for everyone to be prepared.

We all have to live with it and expect that it will happen. Positive thinking cannot stop Mother Nature from doing what it has to do. It may be in our lifetime, or in a hundred years. No one can predict the exact time and date. Even the most modern computers can only predict an earthquake a few minutes before it comes. Not even enough to warn people to evacuate.

The good news is that most major and responsible developers have this concern as one of their primary considerations. They hire the best structural consultants to make sure that their building can withstand the very strong earthquakes. In fact, experts say that should an intensity-8 earthquake occur, there will be more residential houses flattened than high-rise structures. Don’t get me wrong—no structure is completely “earthquake proof.” Being earthquake resistant simply means minimizing the loss of life and limbs when an extremely strong shaking occurs.

Some people may think twice about investing in condominiums because they’re afraid of earthquakes. However, it really doesn’t make sense. I was in Tokyo just last month and people there do not even budge whenever an earthquake occurs. They have learned to live with it. Buildings are designed to sway with the movements and even some pieces of furniture and appliances were specifically designed and installed to be earthquake safe.

One thing we should all be thankful for in the earthquake that occurred this week is that there were no classes and most of the children were still sleeping soundly. Just imagine what could have happened if they were all inside their classrooms at 7:00 am. It would have been chaos.

Insurance wise, you can now have your properties covered with an additional premium for acts of nature. This covers amounts that they refer to as “reconstruction cost new” or enough to construct a similar structure. So, don’t complain if you are paying the corresponding premiums. If you as a resident of a condominium are praying to be spared from the destruction of your properties due to earthquakes, these insurance companies might beat the monks in praying for your safety.

You might be paying a little additional premium for the units that your are getting from an established and reputable developer, but you can be sure that these developers have your best interest in mind since this is their business. Unlike one-time or first-time builders, these big players have more to lose if even one of their projects suffers significant damages and exposes their practice of cutting corners. They can already kiss their future projects goodbye.

You really have nothing to fear about living in a condominium project as far as earthquakes are concerned. Life goes on. Otherwise, people should have already vacated California, which has been waiting for the big one for many years now. This is the same with Hawaii, Japan, and New Zealand—earthquake-prone places but still command very high real estate prices.

But should you still insist and you think that you will have peace of mind living in a single-level residential dwelling, I suggest that you get the services of a qualified and reputable structural consultant and make sure that you follow their recommendations. It may be a bigger investment now, but your returns will come in form of durability, savings on repairs, and, most of all, peace of mind. For now, please join me in praying for those who were gravely affected by the earthquake.

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