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SteelMaster Workshop Withstands Major Earthquake in Alaska

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X-Model steel workshop with a custom wood front end wall, white entry door and white garage door covered in snow
Bob’s Workshop in Anchor Point, Alaska

On November 30, 2018, the state of Alaska was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

SteelMaster customer Bob C. lives on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and experienced the earthquake firsthand.

“It lasted a long time compared to all of the other earthquakes I’ve been through here,” Bob said. “It stopped and started back up again, so things were falling all around.”

It was the second largest temblor to hit Alaska. The first was a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in 1964, which caused a deadly tsunami. Known as the “Good Friday Earthquake,” the incident led to years of earthquake preparation and policies, as well as stricter building codes.

Many attribute this as the reason why there were no casualties and only a few injuries in the recent quake.

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake is classified as a ‘major’ earthquake and can cause serious damage.  It is estimated that there are 20 quakes in the major category each year.

In the three years, Bob’s SteelMaster building has been assembled, it’s lasted through three winters and now two major earthquakes.

SteelMaster’s earthquake-resistant structures follow building codes maintained by the International Code Council (ICC), which have the best guidance on how structures should be designed and constructed to limit seismic risk. Our buildings can be designed to Seismic Design Category E for areas near a major fault with high seismic vulnerability.

“Honestly, I’m not sure my house–if we had a direct hit–would make it or not. I feel comfortable that my SteelMaster will, and that we would have some place to move into,” he said. “We could move everything we have in there and get by just fine.”

Bob uses his 30’ X 38’ SteelMaster workshop to house his woodworking tools.

Before purchasing a steel building, Bob stored some of his tools in a wood workshop with a flat roof that came with his house when he purchased it in 1995.

“Anything with a flat roof in Alaska just does not survive. It’s horrible, they’ll always leak.”

Because of this, Bob had to store his tools under tarps inside the shop. He knew he had to replace the building to keep his tools safe from Alaska’s harsh elements.

After weighing his options, Bob ultimately decided on purchasing a metal building.

“I started comparing prices and realistically, there was no way I could build a stick build for the price I was able to get. Just no way,” he said. “Wood is very costly in Alaska.”

He spoke with SteelMaster’s National Sales Manager, Noah Taylor, who has expertise in assisting residents and businesses in Alaska.

“The cost was an important factor. I was working with Noah and he is an excellent person. He was the one who came back and said this [building] was the best rated for Alaska for snow and wind loads.”

SteelMaster offers several models that are able to protect people and property from heavy snow. Bob opted for our X-Model, which is the most popular for areas with heavy snow.

Two of the most important things to consider when determining if your building is strong enough to handle the heavy snow are the slope and pitch of the roof. SteelMaster’s X Model has a 4:12 pitched roof which makes it easier for heavy snow to slide right off.

In addition to heavy snow, high winds can also be a big problem for Alaskans. Some areas require wind loads of up to 175 miles per hour. SteelMaster’s unique building design is made to handle intense wind pressure.

 In addition to Alaska’s local building code requirements, we construct our buildings in accordance with codes determined by the International Building Code and ASCE-7. Both codes ensure that buildings around the country are constructed to meet specific standards. Even when a building permit is not required, our buildings are still designed to the latest code.

Because the state is not part of the contiguous United States, shipping and delivery can be very complicated. However, SteelMaster is able to quickly deliver our buildings to almost anywhere worldwide.

“To actually have a shop that size delivered to your door—there’s just no way I could say no.”

Bob is so pleased with his SteelMaster workshop that he became a member of our referral program.

“It’s just a wonderful product, I stand by it 100 percent.”