SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) today announced it will offer incentive payments of up to $3,000 to help California homeowners in six earthquake-prone communities strengthen their homes to better survive a major quake.
In a strong earthquake, the crawl space that is common below older California homes is vulnerable to collapse, dropping the house to the ground or causing it to slide off its foundation. In the aftermath of the moderate 2014 Napa quake, houses with this type of damage have received estimates of up to $300,000 for repairs including lifting the house while the foundation is rebuilt. Most homeowners' insurance policies don't cover earthquake damage.
The incentives from CRMP's Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program will help pay for seismic retrofits to houses that are most vulnerable to catastrophic damage: pre-1979 houses that aren't bolted to their foundations, are built atop a crawl space and have unbraced "cripple walls" surrounding that crawl space. Seismic retrofits include bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space.
"As we've seen in the Napa, Northridge and Loma Prieta earthquakes, homes that are properly retrofitted are much more likely to withstand an earthquake without serious structural damage," said Janiele Maffei, executive director of CRMP and chief mitigation officer of the California Earthquake Authority. "Bracing and bolting are two of the most effective investments homeowners can make to protect their houses."
How the EBB Program Works
Seismic retrofits of these types typically cost between $2,000 and $10,000 and can be performed either by a contractor or a homeowner. The incentive payments of up to $3,000 will be awarded to as many as 575 qualifying homeowners to offset the cost of seismic retrofitting. Homeowners can apply for EBB program between January 15 and February 15 by going to EarthquakeBraceBolt.com. Once registration for the program closes, CRMP will conduct a random drawing to select the homeowners from each of the six cities who may eligible to receive incentive payments.
EBB incentives are available to homeowners in specific ZIP codes in three northern California cities (San Francisco, Oakland and San Leandro) and three southern California cities (Los Angeles, Pasadena and Santa Monica). CRMP selected these cities since they are prone to strong shaking, have large numbers of pre-1940 houses, and their local building codes have adopted a Standard Plan Set for residential seismic retrofitting. These plan sets provide specific instructions on bracing and bolting retrofits, allowing any California licensed contractor or homeowner to do the retrofit. CRMP plans to expand the incentive program to additional ZIP codes and cities mid-year to reach as many high-risk areas in the state as possible.
The houses must meet certain criteria, including being built on a level or low-slope site, on a raised foundation, and with a four-foot (or less) cripple wall under the first floor. Additional information, including a list of eligible ZIP codes, is available at https://www.earthquakebracebolt.com/Homeowners.aspx.
To help homeowners find contractors, EBB's website offers a list of contractors who have successfully completed FEMA seismic retrofit training. Contractors interested in doing residential retrofits are encouraged to register on the EBB website and complete the free training.
CRMP's goal is to extend its incentives to more types of houses once additional guidelines are adopted into local planning codes. The California Earthquake Authority is working with the Applied Technology Council to develop retrofit guidelines for houses requiring seismic retrofits not covered by existing guidelines, including "soft story" buildings (typically with living space over a garage), houses on hillsides, and houses with cripple walls higher than four feet.
About Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB)
Established by the California Residential Mitigation Program, EBB offers financial incentives to help California homeowners retrofit their houses to reduce potential damage from earthquakes. 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. For more information, please visit http://www.EarthquakeBraceBolt.com.
About the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP)
CRMP was established in 2011 to help Californians strengthen their homes against damage from earthquakes. CRMP is a joint powers authority created by the California Earthquake Authority and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services. For more information, please visit http://www.CaliforniaResidentialMitigationProgram.com.
SOURCE California Residential Mitigation Program