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The Benefits of Seismic Upgrades for California Homeowners

A building that has been damaged in an earthquake

The Benefits of Seismic Upgrades for California Homeowners

Within the next 30 years, the probability that an earthquake measuring magnitude 6.7 is between 60-70%, and measuring magnitude 7 is about 50%.

If your house was built prior to the year 1980, it’s especially vulnerable to damage from earthquake shaking because it was built before modern seismic building codes were enacted. However, retrofitting older homes can be relatively simple, and the benefits can make a huge difference if there is an earthquake.

What is a Seismic Retrofit?

A study by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center estimates that owners of retrofitted houses can save between $10,000 and $200,000 in repair costs caused by a major earthquake.

The goals of retrofitting are to allow your family to shelter in place during an earthquake, keep your house habitable, and protect you and your family from injury, while also saving you money by avoiding expensive repairs.

Retrofitting keeps your house from being displaced from its foundation. A few ways this can happen include:

Bracing cripple walls, which are short walls that rest on a house’s foundation and support the floor and exterior walls, strengthen structures by increasing stability.

Foundation bolting, which requires that holes are drilled through the sill plate on a foundation and anchor bolts are installed to keep the foundation from moving.

Reinforcing or strapping chimneys to keep chimneys from collapsing and falling through the roof.

Reinforcing masonry wallsadding new anchorage and continuous ties across the roof of a home.

Installing new plywood sheathing or steel reinforcements to garage doors. 

Benefits of Getting a Retrofit

When you strengthen your house with a seismic upgrade/retrofit, you’re decreasing the chances of catastrophic and costly earthquake damage. Not only can it provide you peace of mind, knowing your home and family is better protected during an earthquake, but it can also keep thousands of dollars in your wallet.

If your home was built before 1980, has a crawl space, a soft-story, is built on a hillside, or is a post and pier home, you’d likely benefit from getting seismic upgrades to make your home safer and more resistant to structural damage.

A few of the benefits of getting a seismic upgrade include:


How Much Does Earthquake Retrofitting Cost?

There isn’t a standard cost for strengthening your home, but the range can be as little as $3,000 up to $10,000 or more for larger homes, homes built on hillsides, or those with basements and rooms over garages.

However, estimates put the average for a typical home (that doesn’t require engineer costs) at about $4,500 – $5,000.

If you own a home that’s eligible, you could receive a seismic retrofit grant to help pay for the upgrades to your home, called the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program. There are also other local government seismic assistance programs available, as well as grants specifically designated for low-income and fixed income residents of certain areas in California.

Ask the Bay Area Seismic Retrofitting Experts

Victor Construction & Engineering offers residential and commercial earthquake retrofitting services throughout San Francisco and Marin County. We have more than 30 years of experience fortifying San Francisco buildings against earthquake activity. If you are in need of earthquake retrofitting for your pretty, contact us today at 415-472-9144 or fill out our contact form.