Published : Monday, January 29, 2018 | 6:28 AM
Registration has opened for eligible homeowners in Pasadena and most of California to receive up to $3,000 in grants for seismic retrofits of their older homes under the state’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program. Homeowners have until February 23 to apply for a grant by registering through the EBB website, www.EarthquakeBraceBolt.com, said a California Department of Insurance press release.
A residential seismic retrofit makes a house more resistant to earthquake activity, such as ground shaking and soil failure, by bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space under the house.
The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has provided $6 million in funding for the grants this year, enough to support an additional 2,000 or more code-compliant seismic retrofits.
Typical retrofits for homes currently funded by EBB grants cost between $3,500-$5,500. Earthquake damage, on the other hand, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. In the relatively moderate 6.0-magnitude Napa earthquake of 2014, homeowners received estimates of up to $300,000 to put their houses back on their foundations.
“The natural disasters of 2017 remind us of the need to be prepared for the major earthquakes that are inevitable in California,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in the press release. “Californians can protect their families by strengthening older homes, which are particularly vulnerable to earthquake damage, and by making sure they have the financial strength to rebuild with earthquake insurance.”
Homes with qualifying retrofits are eligible for discounts of up to 20% on CEA earthquake insurance premiums.
The CEA says more than 1.2 million houses in high-hazard areas of California are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because of the type of construction. These homes are typically built before 1979, have a wood frame on a raised foundation and have a cripple wall in the crawl space under the house.
“The more houses a neighborhood has that have been retrofitted, the fewer condemned buildings will blight the neighborhood after a catastrophic earthquake and the faster life can return to normal,” State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian said. “I strongly encourage eligible residents to apply for EBB grants and retrofit their homes.”
Janiele Maffei, Chief Mitigation Officer of the CEA and Executive Director of the EBB program, said they now see increasing momentum and awareness for seismic retrofits among homeowners, local officials, and contractors. “By helping kick-start a retrofit movement, we are working to reduce the number of Californians who lose their homes in the next catastrophic earthquake,” she said.
The EBB program also works with local building departments on the permitting process for retrofits and expanding the base of contractors trained to do code-compliant retrofits. The EBB’s searchable Contractor Directory currently lists almost 900 trained contractors.
The CEA and EBB also continue to promote earthquake safety by funding development of seismic retrofit codes and plans to include a broader set of housing types. The results of that research will be released later this year.
Eligible homeowners can apply for EBB retrofit funding through www.EarthquakeBraceBolt.com, where they can also find detailed program information, select a licensed FEMA-trained contractor and view the full list of eligible ZIP Codes.
EBB was launched in 2013 by the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) to assist California homeowners who wish to seismically retrofit their houses and strengthen them against damage from earthquakes.
CRMP is a joint powers authority created by the California Earthquake Authority and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
For more information, visit www.CaliforniaResidentialMitigationProgram.com.