If you live in California, near faults, places that are seismically active, or tend to experience landslides it is strictly recommended to have your home retrofitted. If you live in a residential building, ask your landlord if it has been done.
It Sounds More Expensive Than It Is
An earthquake retrofitting is considered one of the most affordable and quick seismic improvements available. A home retrofit involves foundation modifications like adding new technologies or features aimed at improving its structural integrity. But how much does a foundation repair cost? For example, a foundation bolting, one of the more elementary foundation repairs, costs between $3000 and $7000 depending on the size of the house. Additionally, you and your family won’t have to leave the house during the procedure. It’s often done in about a week.
To compare, it costs $350-$1,000 to have a structural engineer do a foundation inspection on your house. If you are getting ready to start a home improvement project but haven't considered foundation modifications, a general home inspector will most likely request a foundation evaluation anyways. There are numerous methods and approaches to in foundation repair for earthquakes depending on the type of structure: installation of steel bracing systems for soft-story buildings, shear walls and column fortification for non-ductile concrete buildings, tilt-up building seismic retrofitting (often needed for structures built prior to the 1980s), and more.
An earthquake retrofit can be done in many ways, but the result is the same - very low chances that your house will detach from its foundations or experience damage during an earthquake. If the financial side of the matter is still causing hesitation, you can take advantage of organizations like Earthquake Brace + Bolt which offers $3000 grants for homeowners to have a seismic retrofit done.
Earthquake insurance providers are also a fan of foundation repairs and will reduce insurance premiums for having them done. California Earthquake Authority offers up to 25% in premium discounts if your home is eligible. Some of the eligibility requirements depend on the year your house was built, what the foundations look like, and whether the retrofit was done according to standards. You can find out more on their website by clicking here.
Retrofitting Also Saves Energy
An ancillary benefit of structure retrofitting is that foundation contractors also carry out energy or ‘green” retrofitting. In addition to enhanced home safety, a green retrofit will allow for energy savings! In a time where being energy conscious is second nature, helping mitigate climate change and reducing your energy bill, is a significant added bonus alongside increasing the odds of your and your family’s physical safety.
What makes a retrofit energy efficient? Well, records show an average of up to 30% in savings on utility bills once a home has been adjusted to consume and distribute energy efficiently.
Energy conservation is known to be lacking in more seasoned homes and buildings. Older model homes are colder and, quite often, leaky. The past four decades have indicated that homes are being built more efficiently. At the same time, however, the average size of homes has increased by 60% since 1973 (Pew Research Center) which naturally means more energy consumption. So whether your home is a bit more vintage or new but spacious, it is worth having a foundation contractor do a foundation inspection of your home. You may even come to need a structural engineer to give you an estimate on just how much you could be saving.
Paired with an earthquake retrofit, this set of foundational repairs will also decrease energy consumption, increase energy efficiency, and most importantly for homeowners living in seismically sensitive areas, potentially save lives.
Protecting Your Investment and Higher Resale Value
In the unfortunate event of a severe earthquake, homeowners who haven’t modified their foundations will be looking at repairs that may take years and costs that far outstrip the preventative retrofit expense. To compare, earthquake damage repairs cost between $5,000 and $10,000 - that’s if you have earthquake insurance, without which you’re looking at bills often surpassing $30,000. By protecting your home, you’re also protecting your money.