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We Provide Earthquake Insurance for Californians

Strengthen Your Home with Seismic Retrofitting

Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program
•  Educate you on the benefits of seismic retrofitting
•  Provide a list of FEMA-trained, licensed contractors to seismically
retrofit your house
•  Website: Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program

​​​​​​​​​​​Does your house need a seismic retrofit?

If your home:

  • Has a wood frame
  • Was built before 1979
  • Is on a raised foundation (you would have a crawl space under the house)​

…then you may need a brace and bolt seismic retrofit to help keep your house from sliding off of its foundation during an earthquake.

If your house doesn’t meet the brace and bolt seismic retrofit criteria, above, there are still steps you can take to strengthen your house here.

What is seismic retrofitting?

Hazard Reduction
Discount Questions?
Call toll-free: (888) 423-2322

A seismic retrofit strengthens a house to make it more resistant to earthquake damage.

One way to seismically retrofit is to bolt the house to its foundation and brace the walls around the crawl space with plywood. This is known as a brace and bolt retrofit

A brace and bolt retrofit typically costs between $3,000 and $7,000. The Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program offers financial incentives of up to $3,000 to help qualified homeowners in a limited number of California ZIP codes. Find out more about the program.

CEA offers policy premium discounts to policyholders who retrofit their houses. For more information about the Hazard Reduction Discount, please call (888) 423-2322 or contact your home insurance company.

How a brace and bolt retrofit works

Many pre-1979 houses have a short (less than 4-foot), wood-framed wall surrounding the crawl space under the house. This short wall is known as a "cripple wall." To help prevent this type of house from sliding off of its foundation during an earthquake, the cripple wall needs to be braced with plywood and the house bolted to the foundation.​​​​

Next steps—how to get started with your brace and bolt retrofit

Retrofits that do not require a design professional: Homeowners or their contractors may use certain retrofit methods and plans without engaging a design professional (architect or engineer). Following the guidance of Appendix Chapter A3 of the California Existing Building Code, or in certain communities, using a pre-approved plan set (for example, the "Los Angeles Standard Plan Set" or "Plan Set A" in some Bay Area counties and communities). These methods may be used:

  • If you have a single-family, wood-frame house with less than a four-foot cripple wall, you can use Chapter A3 or a pre-approved Plan Set. Check with your local building department on what Plan Set options are available.
  • If your house does not meet the criteria above, you will need plans prepared by a design professional (architect or engineer).
  • Building Permit: Use Chapter A3 details or an approved plan set to secure a building permit.
  • Hire a contractor or do it yourself: The California Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board has information on how to hire a licensed contractor. Or if you're handy, you can complete this work yourself.

California Earthquake Risk and Preparedness