“Emilia” called me in a red hot panic. The Boston native wondered if her 1925 La Crescenta home with a partial river rock foundation needed earthquake retrofit.
The last earthquake unnerved her and she had called out a foundation specialist for a foundation retrofit estimate. The recommendation was shocking- an entire new foundation was needed to the tune of $60,000! She just bought this home in February (not with DIGGS) and she was worried that she had made a big, expensive, mistake.
What is earthquake retrofit for foundations?
Earthquake retrofit for foundations usually means bolting the home to its concrete foundation. It can also mean installing plywood shear wall bracing if there are cripple walls. Both of these structural features were common in homes built after 1939.
Is it required to retrofit older homes?
No. There is no law requiring earthquake retrofitting for older homes. It is considered an upgrade that many, but not all, homeowners have completed.
Can I sell my home without foundation retrofit?
Yes. You must disclose to potential buyers if you know you do not have foundation bolts, but you are not required to install them.
Your sales price might be impacted, depending on market conditions.
Should I buy a home without earthquake retrofitting
In most cases, yes. The cost of installing proper retrofitting is small, relative to the value of most Glendale and La Crescenta homes. If you are a risk adverse person you can plan to execute a retrofit as soon as you close escrow.
However, some older homes can present uncommon foundations like Emilia’s partial river rock foundation. While the majority of buyers will still buy a home like this, It is important to understand the ramifications and complications these older foundations can present.
A note of caution regarding home owners insurance
Insurance companies are constantly changing their underwriting guidelines. In 2020 earthquake retrofitting is not required in order to get basic homeowners insurance, but it is required to get earthquake insurance.
We can’t know what the standards will be in the future.