Did you feel it? According to the U. S. Geological Survey, a 2.2 magnitude earthquake hit just a kilometer SE of Culver City at 6:31 this morning. Not very big, but close enough to provide a bit of a jolt in our area…as well as a good reminder that larger quakes are possible at any time, and earthquake preparation is always a good idea. Luckily, retrofitting your home to withstand a quake just got a lot more affordable. The new Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program – with registration open from now until February 20 – provides homeowners up to $3,000 to strengthen their foundations and lessen the potential for earthquake damage.
According to the EBB website, a typical earthquake retrofit for your foundation may cost between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the location and size of the house, contractor fees, and the amount of materials and work involved. (If the homeowner is an experienced do-it-yourselfer, a retrofit can cost less than $3,000.) So the new grants can cover a significant portion of the cost.
Work funded includes reinforcement of cripple walls (the short, wood-framed walls surrounding the crawl space under the first floor), which need to be strengthened to prevent the house from sliding or toppling off of its foundation during an earthquake. Strengthening the cripple walls involves adding anchor bolts and plywood bracing in the crawl space.
Altogether, the EBB funding covers:
- Adding anchor bolts and sill plates in the crawl space to improve the connection between the wood framing of the house and its concrete foundation to help keep the house from sliding.
- Strengthening the cripple walls in the crawl space with plywood braces that will help keep the house from toppling off of the foundation during an earthquake. Strengthening cripple walls enables them to function as shear members, significantly protecting the house from collapsing.
- Straping and bracing water heaters to reduce the likelihood of water and fire damage, and to protect the water supply.
To qualify, foundations must be concrete and reinforced masonry, and include cripple walls or stem walls. Slabs on grade foundation, and unreinforced masonry or stone foundations do not qualify for this type of retrofit.
Houses that meet qualifications for the grants are typically:
- wood-framed construction built before 1979
- built on a level or low slope
- constructed with a 4-foot (or less) cripple wall under the first floor OR
- constructed with a cripple wall between 4 feet and 7 feet (requires an engineered solution)
- have a raised foundation
Also, to be eligible for participation in the program, houses must be located in one of the following zip codes: 90004, 90005, 90006, 90012, 90014, 90015, 90017, 90019, 90020, 90021, 90023, 90026, 90027, 90028, 90029, 90031, 90032, 90033, 90036, 90038, 90039, 90041, 90042, 90046, 90065, 90048, 90057, 90063, 90068, or 91604.
After applying, homeowners will be notified via e-mail if they have been selected or if they are on the wait list. Selected homeowners will receive detailed information and next steps for participation.
To sign up, go to https://www.earthquakebracebolt.com/HomeownerRegistration and click the “Register” button…or see https://www.earthquakebracebolt.com/FAQ for more information.