California Homeowner Registration Starts for 2017 Brace + Bolt Program

January 26, 2017

The 2017 Earthquake Brace + Bolt program opened registration this week for $6 million in grants for seismic retrofits. This represents a 25 percent increase in funding over last year to help California homeowners protect their families and secure their older homes against a catastrophic earthquake, according to the California Department of Insurance.

Now through Feb. 27 homeowners in 141 eligible ZIP Codes in 33 cities can register online to receive up to $3,000 toward a code-compliant seismic retrofit.

The EBB program is expanding its retrofit effort to reduce risk to the most vulnerable homes on all fronts:

  • More high-risk areas are included;
  • More funds are available to retrofit more homes; and
  • More FEMA-trained contractors are performing the retrofit work.

The ZIP Codes included are those facing the highest risk of residential earthquake damage. Risk is determined by combining local geological hazard with the vulnerability of older homes and the construction type.

This year EBB is funded by $3 million from the California Earthquake Authority and $3 million from the state.

“This program provides grants that go directly to homeowners so that they can protect their assets and their families,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement.

EBB grants are available for houses built before 1979 that include a crawl space with unbraced cripple walls, low walls between the foundation and first floor, and are not bolted to the foundation. In a strong earthquake, an unbolted house can topple off its foundation and unbraced cripple walls make the crawl space vulnerable to collapse.

The CEA estimates there are more than 1.2 million of these houses in high-hazard areas in Northern and Southern California.

Since the magnitude 6.0 Napa earthquake in August 2014, the CEA has been studying both homeowner attitudes and how their homes performed in the quake. The research was conducted in two parts-the first phase was an online questionnaire completed by more than 600 Napa residents and the second qualitative phase included 39 in-person interviews and house inspections.

The recently completed qualitative phase of the CEA Napa Research revealed a lack of awareness among homeowners about retrofitting.

The interviews found that one-third of owners did not know whether or not their house had been retrofitted, while others thought their houses were retrofitted when they were not. Several respondents believed their houses had been adequately retrofitted because their chimney was braced. Many homeowners underestimated the benefits of retrofitting, according to the CEA.

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