Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by
Berkeley Parents Network subscribers. Your
own experience may be different. Please always check references first!
Berkeley Parents Network >
House & Garden >
Earthquake retrofit Structural Engineer
Looking for a structural engineer and a good contractor
specializing in earthquake retrofitting/seismic upgrades. I
have a two story house in El Cerrito built in 1957. Mark
Alameda Structural! George Walton is owner; Brian Bouchard,
Steve and Jeff were all very responsible project managers.
They did several projects over time: seismic retrofit was
the biggy, also work on drainage, sewer lateral, repaving,
garage door, etc. Then Brian did deck support on his own
time since the project was too small for the company. Great
work, good communications, good subs, and reasonable cost.
510/523-1610 Karen in Rockridge
I overwhelmingly recommend Ralph Hueston Kratz:
510-918-2256. He's extremely thorough and a pleasure to
work with. sound house
I recommend Alameda Structural. They did a great job on
our seismic retrofit at a reasonable price, and they have
lots of experience. Foundation re-did
We just went through an earthquake retrofit project for our
80 year-old house & were very happy with the firm we hired,
Counterforce. They were straightforward, on budget, on time,
clean and nice. Also, they were very creative & sensitive to
some unusual design issues that cropped up in part of the
job. It was really a good experience. leslie
Contact Feraru & Associates if you need a good contractor to
take care of the retrofitting part. Sorin Feraru has been
working on various projects on our house including
retrofitting and we are extremely happy with the work and
the price. You can reach Sorin by phone at 510-228-7366 or
by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
The seismic engineer who literally 'wrote the book' on shear
walls is Thor Matteson (shearwalls.com) 510-230-8601. He
lives and works in the East Bay.
I do in-home earthquake consultations (quakeprepare.com)
part of which is evaluating existing retrofits. I'm sad to
say that many retrofit contractors do incomplete retrofits,
make mistakes, and use hardware intended for hurricanes.
The one that is the best, in my opinion, is Bay Area
Retrofit, in Berkeley. 510-548-1111.
Structural Engineer for seismic evaluation
We are looking for a structural engineer to do a seismic
evaluation of our house. Any recommendations would be
Joshua B. Kardon + Company
1930 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley CA 94704
During the last twenty-plus years, Josh has advised us,
several members of our family, and our friends when we/they
were inspecting a home we/they were thinking of buying.
Several years ago, Josh designed a substantial retrofit of a
hundred-year-old foundation and an upgrade of that
structure, balancing what needed to be done right away to
protect our family in case of an earthquake and what work we
could do (when we had more money to invest) to protect our
investment in our home.
In 2008 and 2009, Josh designed and managed construction of
new foundations and structures of a 100% new home.
For each project, Josh helped us hire knowledgeable
surveyors, soils engineers, and other professional
engineers, as needed.
Each time we have hired Josh to advise us, Josh has paid
careful attention to what upgrades needed to be done right
away for the safety of our family, including discussing how
to get out in an emergency and furniture and such that might
cause problems during an emergency. And Josh advised us
what improvements/upgrades would be likely to protect our
homes (the buildings themselves) from physical damages.
June 2009: Structural engineer/contractor for shifting home needed
Our two-story, 1920 house in Oakland, with complete garage/workshop
has been shifting. The sloping floors are becoming more pronounced. We
the back corner has a rotating foundation. The actual foundation does
not seem to
have any cracks. Does anyone have recommendations for a good
to assess the house? Also, any recommendations for a contractor that
has worked for
I have only the highest praise for Rick Hoffmann Construction,
who did my recent earthquake retrofit and also did some work for
my shifting porch and other foundation issues. He was unfailingly
responsive and communicative, did excellent work, went above and
beyond and his team left my basement in neat-as-a-pin condition.
You can reach him at 510-715-4803.
Dan Szumski was the excellent, experienced structural engineer
who made the plans for the work. He pointed out and explained the
reasons for some of the shifting in my house as well, and was
able to create a solution. He's at 510-418-7155.
There is a great Structural Engineering firm in Oakland called
Ingraham DeJesse Associates. The owner is Nellie Ingraham and she
does fantastic quality work. Their website is: www.ida-se.com
April 2009: Structural Engineer for Seismic Upgrade needed
Our house needs some added support to prepare for a big
earthquake. We need an engineer who can calculate the loads
and give advice about where to best add support with minimal
aesthetic impact. Recommendations are appreciated, especially
if the engineer was able to provide creative solutions to work
around aesthetic elements of the home's design. Thanks in
Year before last several large cracks appeared on one side of my
house. I was told by one seismic contractor that I must first
obtain a report from a structural engineer. Only then would they
talk to me. Another company referred me to Dave Ford as a first
step. Dave came up with a very creative solution for my seismic
retrofit. He did not recommend more than I needed, nor less. It
was a surgical strike. His proposal was thorough, but I had a 3rd
party review it just the same. That contractor was significantly
impressed by the caliber of Dave's proposal, its indepth detail,
and level of professionalism. Of course I hired Dave afterwards.
That level of professionalism continued throughout the upgrade.
And I now feel safe in my home. Dave Ford's phone number is (510)
715-4801. I highly recommend Dave as your first step.
We just completed a seismic upgrade of our house, engineered by
Ralph Kratz. I recommend him enthusiastically, without any
reservations. Ralph takes structural safety very seriously and
thoughtfully approaches each project. His plans are thorough,
and once retrofitting work has begun, he stays in contact with
the contractor so he can address any unexpected issues that come
up and make plan modifications as necessary. He also inspects
the work himself, before city inspections are conducted, to make
sure the work is up to standard. He's a pleasure to work with
and has a great sense of humor. His phone number is 510-236-6668.
Because of all the talk last year about the Hayward Fault being
overdue for a ''big one,'' I hired Ralph Kratz and Ward
Construction, Inc. to retrofit my house. My house is on a hill,
so the north side is one story, the south side is nearly three
stories tall. Mr. Kratz specified 20 ft. deep rebar & concrete
pillars on the north connected to thick wood beams the width of
my house attached to & under the floors on the east & west ends
of my house, plus shearwall plywood from the foundation to the
roof on the south side, from the west end to the east end. He
also specified a few other details, such as bolting the house to
its foundation and metal tie-downs or hold-downs. I feel that my
house is a lot safer now.
724 McLaughlin St.
Richmond, CA 94805-1402
Have you used or considering using the services of structual
engineer Monty Stott? If so, what kind of project did he work
on and were you pleased with the quality, timeliness and cost
of his work? Thank you.
We hired Monty Stott to conduct a pre-sale analysis of a house we
wanted to buy. He took good care in helping us understand what
he was looking for, what his thoughts were, etc during the
walk-through. But then he took more time than he said he would
to produce a written report. We needed it by a certain day in
order to include it in our negotiations which he said he could
do. He eventually emailed us a report 3 days later after many
calls from our real estate agent. And now that we've talked to
other structural engineers (we got the house!) I realize that
there isn't *one* answer to problematic foundations. Another
structural engineer (Joshua ___, can't find his last name right
now) came last week and another one is coming next week to help
us really understand the situation. All to say, Monty was alright.
We used Monte Stott for a driveway bridge project and found it
to be a very frustrating experience. He held up our contractor
at numerous points during the project and failed to inform us
that he was re-drawing the plans and we weren't aware of this
work until we got the bill for the new set of drawings. After
this happened a second time, I had to call his office and tell
him not to do any further work without first contacting us and
that we would not pay him unless we authorized future work. It
was not a positive experience.
Structural engineer for 50-year-old house
I'm searching for a reliable and affordable structural engineer
and contractor for my 50-yr-old El Cerrito home (on a slight
incline) which is in need of major 'stability' work. The house
is small (2 bdrms). I was going to go straight to finding an honest
contractor but was told by one that the first step would be to find a
structural engineer. I called, from yellow pages, one engineer and 4
But only one contractor called me back 2 weeks later). I do
need help soon, as the house is ''talking'' (moaning and groaning) to me
more loudly than usual and last week I heard a ripping sound in
floor under bedroom door frame and saw very small separation where sound
Any advice would be appreciated.
We are currently using Scott Sparling, structural engineer, (510)
703-4774 and have found him to be very reasonable, experienced
and honest. We felt that he gave us a very honest assessment of
our foundation and our options for dealing with it. We are
putting a small addition on our home and he has been willing to
answer questions throughout. We are using Advance Construction
(Michael Ghanivand) to build the addition and have been very
satisfied with the quality of work, price, and speed with which
his guys are completing each phase. It's not done yet, but our
architect and engineer have both noted that the quality of his
work thus far is exceptional. Contact Michael at (510) 301-5547.
I highly recomment Yuri Komendant for a structural engineering
consultation. We did a major remodel to our Albany home. As the
structural engineer for the project, Yuri did an excellent job
in all respects. Of all the service providers we wrote checks
to during this project - we acted as the general contractor so
there were many - Yuri was the one person to whom it was
actually a pleasure to write out the check - the quality of his
work/advice/service was that good.
Komendant Engineering Inc
Sorin Feraru with Feraru & Associates Building and Design, Inc.
just did some work at my house and he works with a very
knowledgeable structural engineer from Berkeley. Sorin's number
Re-doing a 95-year-old foundation
Our house needs a complete re-do on the 95 year old foundation. I need to contract with a SE to do plans for our 3-4 story house. Does anyone have experience with the following engineers and recommend them?
Peter Van Mieren,
We have experience with Monty Stott, and he's the only s.e. we've ever worked with. We worked with him and our contractor -- no architect -- on a small remodel. He seems capable and ultimately did a good job with the paper work we needed to submit to the planning department. However, once we hired him he never returned a phone call, and ultimately took over a month longer than anyone expected to get the work done. To the extent our contractor could get him to commit to a date to give us the paper work, he kept not meeting deadlines he himself set. It was very frustrating, especially since we were getting into a time that rainy weather could have intruded.
For a major remodel I've undertaken, I used Peter Van Maren. I would not recommend him. He way overdesigned (which costs you money, not him). Fortunately I had his work peer reviewed, which ended up saving me tens of thousands of dollars. Even so, my contractor can't believe some of the structural elements going into this project.
PVM is not very responsive to your calls, either. My architect also has had issues with PVM on this. Also, he doesn't appear to review the work of his employees very thoroughly as there were numerous errors in the design calculations.
We have been procrastinating about converting our 1916
bugalow attic into two desperately-needed bedrooms. Our
biggest concerns are cost and structural upgrades. We
have started working with an architect, and now we need a
good structural engineer to do an assessment of the
house. The engineer will need to know Oakland codes and
requirements, have a sense of what the possible conversion
would look like, understand seismic needs, and be licensed
to sign off on the papers that are required for permits.
As an added bonus, we'd like someone who charges a
reasonable rate :). We'd be grateful for positive
recommendations. In addition, we'd be only too happy to
hear stories from veterans of the attic conversion, so
that we can learn from history!
To the person doing the attic renovation - we're in the
middle of the same (about to start construction) and I'd be
happy to discuss and swap advice. As far as structural
engineers, I can recommend two great ones. Both technically
excellent and both great interpersonally: Josh Kardon (510)
548-1892 and Alex Rood (415) 543-0161.
We are finally tired of the cracks in the walls, and would
like a good structural engineer to come to our house in
Lafayette and evaluate the house for ongoing settling
problems. Does anyone have someone they can
preferably on this side of the tunnel?
Dan Szumski is a great civil & structural engineer. He's
very ethical, thorough, and highly qualified. He'll also
write up an engineering plan that any contractor can use to
make alterations to his specs. His number is 510-418-7155.
Joshua Kardon is an excellent structural engineer;
unfortunately, he doesn't fit the second half of your bill,
as he is in Berkeley. He designed our retrofitting. His
phone is (510) 548-1892. Email me back if you want more
Concerned about cracks in the ceiling and walls
I am looking for recommendations for a structural engineer
who has experience evaluating the structural integrity of
houses. Our house is developing cracks in all the ceilings
and above the doorways. When we bought our home three
years ago the inspector said everything looked great,
however we are quite concerned about these cracks. Has
anyone worked with a structural engineer who could evaluate
whether our foundation is shifting or if something else is
going on? I'd also like to know what structural engineers
generally charge. Thank you.
Peter Van Maren (engineer) evaluated cracks and other
probems in our hill-clinging home built in 1925.
He is knowledgeable and practical; He said
we could wait on the $10K work (steel piers into the
ground), but had to immediately reinforce the foundation
and other seismic work. His consultation was $700 in 2000.
I'm looking to have some structural work done in my basement. However, I'm
looking for an engineer who does design and drawings only, and does not do
the work. I would then like to bid that work out. Thanks for your recs.
We had a very good experience with Calin Smith from
Sedco Engineering in Berkeley. Often it's worth
hiring the engineer and the company to do the work as
a "package"(take the engineer recommended by the
contractor or viceversa) since they usually work very
well and fast together. If one party is good then the
other party will be as well because they care about
the reputation of the people they associate with.
Based on a recommendation on this site, we hired Dan Szumski to take a look at the cause of cracks in our interior walls. He charged us significantly more than subsequent engineers and his findings were off-base. Both engineers who came after him read Szumski's report - which listed "wind" as a cause of our house moving - and in so many words said, "with all due respect, the guy does not know what he is talking about." I do not recommend Mr. Szumski.
We consulted with Dan Szumski on drainage issues at our
previous house and structural issues at our current house.
I don't know how his price compares, but we very much like
his work. He's thorough, smart and honest, and he explains
things well. With both houses, Dan went out of his way to
help when we followed his recommendations to have drainage
and seismic work done.
Dan Szumski, P.E.
I'm looking for recommendations for structural engineers to repair a
cracked and sagging joist. The problematic joist has caused the floor
above to slope considerably, so we'd also need to jack up the house to
lessen the sloping. The project will probably involve dealing with plumbing
and electrical wiring, and may involve putting a beam across the whole
house (which is why we've decided to go with an engineer as opposed to a
contractor). I called Ingraham/DeJesse, listed on the web site, and they
said the job was too small for them.
Another question: I've gotten recommendations for the following engineers:
Dick Shukert, Jamie Perle, Peter Favro, Morry Berson, Rich Bringle, John
Hallenbach. Anyone know anything about these guys?
I highly recommend structural renewal -- I don't have their phone #, but
they re-did my sagging porch when I bought my house 4 years ago, and they
did an excellent job.
Does anyone have any recommendations for structural engineers? My
and I are considering buying a fixer-upper, and we'd like to have our
engineer inspect it before we go any further. Lysa
I have three recommendations. Two are structural engineers, whom we
consulted when we removed a load-bearing wall. One is the company
did a moderate amount of retrofitting when we first bought the house.
Ingraham/DeJesse Associates Inc.
825 Page Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
A very reputable firm. I was very impressed by Steve DeJesse.
asked other engineers and inspectors and retrofitters whether we were
stupid to live this close to the Hayward Fault, and whether our house
would fall over and whether I was a bad mother...he gave me the most
comprehensive and comprehensible (and reassuring, so far as the house
- Natasha (9/99)
this page was last updated: Oct 29, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network