There are a lot if issues to look out for when you’re buying a new home.
And if you’ve found a “bargain” property close to the water or near a marina, it’s important to ask the seller about liquefaction early in the transaction.
Liquefaction is a major property hazard, especially when it comes to ensuring that your home is seismically safe.
Soil liquefaction happens when the soil has become wet or mostly wet and loses significant durability and strength when it’s subjected stress. This stress typically occurs during an earthquake, which can make the building’s sediments function as a liquid rather than a solid material.
Water pressure and moisture can transform a structure’s granular state from a solid formation to a liquid material, making the property more vulnerable to damage and/or collapse in the event of large side-to-side or up-and-down shaking.
There are several ways to identify if a building has experienced liquefaction – if cracks are present in the property’s driveways, sidewalks or stucco, there’s a good chance the structure will need immediate repair due to liquefaction or poor maintenance.
While the seller might tell you these issues “come with the territory” of waterfront living, it’s important as a buyer to do your own research and look deeper into these matters.
During escrow, ask the buyer for all association-related documents. Under Civil Code sections 4523-4530, these should be provided free of charge – make sure to ask for the complete copies.
These policies are crucial for assessing the property’s liquefaction risk, and when it comes to obtaining the proper earthquake insurance coverage.
You can check out the California Geological Survey’s “Guidelines for Evaluating and Mitigating Seismic Hazards in California” here. And for more information, take a look at California’s liquefaction maps here.
Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation contractors and foundation repair. Julian’s company, Julian Construction, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.