Stump the Stammtisch: UMB (unreinforced masonry buildings)

Where readers ask, and we try to answer:

“How can I find out if a building in San Francisco is made of unreinforced masonry?

Does the city have a list of such buildings?

How can I find out if a building was red tagged after the 1989 earthquake or damaged in the earthquake?

Thank you.”-BGD

We’re getting pretty good readership, and a good regular cast of characters, so I’m thinking you’ll get a good response BGD.

[Update: In record time the Stammtisch came through on this one, but I'm just updating now. Click here to see your answers, and thanks for asking.]

4 thoughts on “Stump the Stammtisch: UMB (unreinforced masonry buildings)

  1. From my training at the fire dpt… THEY have the list and the list is very accurate and very well maintained. My vague memory points to 2000 of those in the city (over a total or 190.000 buildings)

    now, how to get that list? I’m not sure. I’d ask first the Building dpt I guess.

    The side question is “why do you want to know this?” and “what is your relation with that building”. If you are a prospective buyer, and your agent cannot help you, change agent ;-)

    If you are the owner and dont know this, you should really investigate because your liability is on the block.

    If you are a user/renter/neighbor who could be directly impacted by such a building, refere to above: start with the building dpt. http://www.sfgov.org/dbi/ Public Services Phone: (415) 558-6130

    on their FAQ flyer 64. How can I obtain a copy of the Unreinforced Masonry Building (UMB) checklist?

    UMB checklists are available at the Department of Building Inspection, 1660 Mission Street, 2nd Floor, (415) 558-6083. – that would be a good start too.

    additional link that is relevant http://www.sfgov.org/site/dbi_page.asp?id=18618

  2. “The Department of Building Inspection (DBI) maintains a master list of over 2,000 UMBs citywide. To determine the status of a UMB, call DBI’s Seismic Safety Division at (415) 558-6083.” [ref: http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/preservation/PresBulletin03UMB.PDF [PDF]

    “A thematic study of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (UMBs) that identified approximately 2,000 buildings, (many of which were determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places) are summarized in the Cultural Resources database. Access to the database can be obtained on the public computer at the Planning Information Counter at 1660 Mission Street on the first floor.”

    [ref: http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/projects_reports/howdocumenthistory.pdf [PDF]

    You could also check with the Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Appeal Board. They’d know whether there’s a list easily available.

    [Editor's note: Sal, for some reason my spam filter doesn't like you. It was set to quarantine any comments containing 3 or more links, as yours did, but I upped it to 5. Hopefully that helps. Don't let it stop you from commenting.]

  3. The comments have been on the money. Just one more thought. My experience, in more than a couple of decades inspecting for folks in San Fracnsico, is that people often don’t know the terminology or right questsions to ask. So, I wonder if BGD really wants to know about UMBs or merely unreinforced masonry foundations. There are few UMB single-family homes in SF. Granted there are several UMB condos or TICs. But there are thousands of single family homes wiht unreinforced masonry (brick) foundations. … so, if you’re talking ‘residential’, I’m with Sophie; Why do you want to know?

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