Firm foundations

A talk by civil engineer Mike Dean highlighted the ways in which protection from known levels of most natural hazards can be designed into a building, given the will and the money.

Aspiring builders would be wise
To plan for hazards to arise,
Lest wind or earthquake, storm or flood,
Tsunami, landslide, fire or mud
Should shift it, lift it, rock or shock it
And put its owners out of pocket.

To make your house disaster-proof:
Bolt down its base; clamp on the roof;
Ensure the ground-floor’s good and strong
In case those S-waves come along;
Resist the urge for fancy bits –
They’re trouble if a tremor hits;

And do not build too near the beach
Where overflowing seas can reach.
(Eroding coasts, volcanic slopes
Are sites for those with short-term hopes.)
Ideally, you need firm foundations
Well-anchored onto rock formations.

With maps of flood plains, and of quakes,
A calculation’s all it takes
To generate a fancy plot
Against which practised eyes can spot,
When set against the standard scale,
The chance your structure’s going to fail.

It won’t be cheap – there’ll be a price,
But the alternative’s not nice.
For detailed guidance, Mike’s your man:
He’ll give you all the help he can
And show you how you ought to do it.
Take his advice, or you may rue it.

[Image: BBC]
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