If you live in Southern California, then you know what it's like to live in Earthquake Country. While we So Cal residents seem to have warmer winter weather than anywhere else in the US, there's still a price to pay for living in Los Angeles as well as high rent and traffic jams. We have to pay the premium of Mother Nature's tectonic wraths. In 1994, the Northridge Earthquake was reported as the most costly natural disaster in American history, until Hurricane Katrina. However, the USGS reports that the Big One is past overdue. Los Angeles may be setting a new national record, and it's time you do something about it. Here's what you can do:
- Identify your foundation type. Most homes in California are built on raised foundations with dirt crawlspaces supported by concrete piers and wood posts. This is what we call a California Basement, unlike the below ground basements you find on the East Coast or the Mid West. Unfortunately, California Basements are not naturally suitable to withstand California tremors absent proper earthquake mitigation construction techniques. Most existing homes do not have the necessary up-to-code bolting and anchors necessary to keep the home from sliding off its foundation in the event of an earthquake. Think of a glass of water sitting on top of a coffee table. When an earthquake strikes, the glass will slide right off the table and shatter. Your home behaves the same way.
- Contact a foundation specialist. Request an inspection to seismic retrofit your home's California Basement. Unless you are a general contractor, then it is strongly recommended that you do not do it yourself. Typically, the space between the dirt floor and the sub-floor of the home is very minimal, and it takes professional labor to safely and accurately perform the work with industrial tools.
- Obtain a bid. The bid should outline the scope of work, pricing, duration time, and required city permits. The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety states that the minimum amount needed to retrofit the average home is $ 2,500. The pricing depends on the square footage and perimeter length of the home, as well as height of the home (stories or levels) to determine the spacing of the bolts. Higher structures require more bolts, which come with a higher price. If your bid is about $ 2,500, then it might take only one day to do the work. Otherwise, the work may take up to three days.
- Contact your insurer. Show your insurance carrier proof of earthquake retrofitting. This will lower your premium. Most insurance companies will not even consider you as a client until earthquake retrofitting is performed. Learn more about earthquake insurance from the California Earthquake Authority.
These are the steps you should take in order to protect your house and your family from earthquakes. Please heed this call to action and call your local retrofitting company for your inspection now!