When you live in earthquake country, you know it’s not “if” there will be a big quake, it’s “when.” You may have an earthquake emergency kit ready, but there are also steps you can take now to strengthen your home to make it more resistant to earthquake damage. And if you live in California, there’s a program called the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) that provides up to $3,000 for seismic retrofit grants to homeowners residing in more than 150 California zip codes. If you’ve checked it before and your zip code wasn’t listed, be sure to check it again because the list has been expanded.
According to the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), there are more than 1.2 million houses in California that are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because of the type of construction. How do you know if yours is one?
There are certain types of houses that are more likely to need a retrofit than others. If you live in a wood-framed home with a raised foundation that was built prior to 1979, your home might be a good candidate for a seismic retrofit. One of the first places to check is the crawl space to see whether the “sill plate,” which is the wood plate running underneath and along the perimeter of your house on top of the concrete, is anchored to the foundation or has been reinforced.
Homes built on a hillside typically have raised foundations and crawl spaces and are vulnerable to earthquake damage.
If your home falls into either of these categories, Simpson Strong-Tie has several retrofit products and resources to assist you in mitigating earthquake risk. The free Seismic Retrofit Guide provides step-by-step information on how to retrofit your home. The Seismic Retrofit Details sheet provides various ways to retrofit the cripple wall system in your home. The photo below highlights the use of the Simpson Strong-Tie® URFP universal foundation plate to attach the sill plate of the cripple wall to the concrete stem wall, strengthening the connection. This simple step can help prevent the house from sliding off its foundation.
You can protect your home from earthquake damage. To learn more about the benefits of a seismic retrofit, click here to learn more about a Napa businesswoman who purchased an old house with a raised foundation for her small business. She retrofitted it just prior to the 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Napa in 2014, which caused considerable damage to similar homes.
Many California communities offer free classes on how to retrofit your home without hiring a contractor. For example, San Leandro will help homeowners design the retrofit and lend them the necessary (large) power tools. KPIX 5 — CBS San Francisco recently profiled a homeowner who took on the retrofit challenge.
A DIY seismic retrofit is an ambition project, but the potential savings are huge and cities like San Leandro will help you tackle the job. Wilson Walker joins one homeowner on a quest to save his home, and well over $10,000.
If you want to take advantage of the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program, you need to act soon. Registration for the retrofit grant ends February 23, 2018. To learn more about the program or to register, visit www.earthquakebracebolt.com. And whether you decide to retrofit your home yourself or hire a professional, we’d love to hear from you after your retrofit is complete.