Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program, what is it? How do I qualify?

Is your home earthquake is ready?  Have you ever looked into it?  Many homeowners are becoming more aware of this program as well as the important safety measures that needs to be addressed in older homes in California.  There are actual programs out there to help homeowners with preparing the foundations of their homes to be more earthquake friendly.  While many homeowners might think that this will take too much of their time.  It actually is much easier than one might think.

The California residential mitigation program or the (CRMP) is a program that combines the efforts of the California Earthquake Authority and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.  It was established to help homeowners out with the retrofitting of their home.  This retrofitting project needs to be done by a licensed and qualified contractor.  In fact, most professional licensed and qualified contractors can answer your basic questions.  They can also inspect your home and get you a quote to get this completed for you.  However, if you don’t know if your home has already had this done, then you might need to get an inspection in order to determine if it needs to be done or was done by a previous owner.  A qualified contractor can do that for you as well.

Earthquake Brace and Bolt (EBB)

Earthquake Brace and Bolt (EBB) is a program that offers grants to those homeowners that qualify.  This program has been around since 2011 and has helped 1000s of residents throughout the state of California.  Taking these precautions can be cost prohibitive to the state which is why they are offering such programs.  Having entire neighborhoods wrecked from an earthquake is very costly to everyone.  These programs are put in place to hopefully stop that from happening. 
Under your home, there are cripple walls.  These walls are holding up the weight of your home.  During this procedure, retrofitting professionals will brace those walls together to make them more structurally sound.  They will then bolt your home to its foundation, as most homes are simply sitting on top of their base structure.  This is fine for homes that are not going to move from side to side.   Most homes will not move side to side, which is why they were built like this in the first place.  However, during an earthquake homes tend to move side to side and thus fall off their foundations. 

Strap down the water heater

Another step that they take during this is to strap down your water heater.  Water heaters, during earthquakes, will topple over and become disconnected from their gas lines and water lines.  This can be a very dangerous situation that could easily be prevented.  This is a part of the EBB and it will be strapped down. 

In order for a contractor to be a part of this EBB program, they must get proper training.  This training is done by a licensed FEMA-trained retro-fitted professional.  Once they have completed the training they can be listed in the directory that you will find on the EBB website.

Why should you Brace and Bolt your home?

Well, there is the obvious… for safety reasons.  After all, if you and your loved ones are in the home when this earthquake happens, you could be seriously injured.  Toppled over water heaters can cause a flood or fire.  Moreover, your home could fall off its foundation.  These are all kinds of things that could harm you and your loved ones.  There are however, other reasons, should you need them, to look into this program.

One might argue that it is too costly.  While there is some out of pocket expense to get this completed, it typically is far less costly than if your home endures an earthquake and isn’t prepared for it.  Foundation work in the state of California can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  In fact, a home that has had foundation issues from a previous earthquake can cost not only what is covered by insurance but out of pocket can be as much as $30k or more.  Keep in mind that while your home might be damaged and you will have these expensive repairs, you cannot live in your home any longer, until the repairs are completed. 

Further financial damage if you don’t strap down.

While your home is damaged, you will have to live somewhere else.  This could mean you will have to cover rent as well as your mortgage and the repair costs.  Do you see this adding up to big dollars yet?  

Earthquake Brace and Bolt is needed to prevent all of the aforementioned.  However, it also provides you with peace of mind knowing that your home and the contents inside are safe.  Your insurance premiums will go down and this will help prevent damage that happens when a home slides off of its foundation.  

When we state that a home slides off its foundation, we don’t mean it in a nice clean way where a simple crane and elbow grease and simply place it back on.   Some people envision this happening similar to that of a double-wide trailer that is simply placed later on the solid foundation.  But, that’s not what happens.  It typically slides just enough to have the floor drop out from under the home.  This leaves all kinds of damage that oftentimes is not repairable.  The roof, porch, and windows are all broken and not left in a state that is an easy fix.  Which is why it is so costly to fix and repair after the fact.