By Howard Cook, Founder and General Manager of Bay Area Retrofit

One of these 5 houses looks like yours, see what kind of seismic retrofit you need.

seismic retrofit contractor retrofits an older house

My house was built before 1940

A seismic retrofit contractor works on homes like this typical house built between 1900 and 1940. There is a wall between the foundation and the floor you walk on. This wall, called a cripple wall, can collapse in an earthquake causing catastrophic damage.  You may want a seismic retrofit contractor to inspect it.  Approximately 90% of the homes in the older parts of the Bay Area have cripple walls and require cripple wall retrofits.  If you have three or more steps leading to the front door you probably have a cripple wall.  Seismic Retrofit Contractors can help you with this. Read more

Seismic retrofit of house without cripple walls.

My house was built between 1940 and 1958 on a flat lot

After approximately 1940, houses were no longer built with cripple walls unless they were on a slope. These houses do extremely well in earthquakes because the floor can be attached directly to the foundation with steel.  These retrofits are usually 25% cheaper and 100% more effective.  If you have less than three steps leading into the front door, this is the kind of retrofit you will need.  Seismic Retrofit Contractors can help you with this.Read more

Seismic retrofit contractor bolting a new house

My house was built after 1958 to the present on a flat lot

Some cities such as San Jose have required bolting since 1927, though most did not make bolting a part of their code until December, 1956.  These bolted houses on flat lots still need retrofit work because even now the building code is inadequate protection from earthquakes.  You need to find a seismic retrofit contractor who understands the deficiency in the code. These kinds of retrofits are the least expensive type and are very effective.  Seismic Retrofit Contractors can help you will this.Read more

Seismic retrofit contractor working on soft story house.

My house has a living area above a garage

Houses with a living area above a garage have a structural weakness called a soft story. The “soft story” is the garage door opening that can collapse in an earthquake causing the living area above it to fall to the ground. These kinds of retrofits rely on large steel columns and extensive concrete work which only a specialist in seismic retrofitting should attempt.   They are expensive but also very effective  so long as they are properly engineered.Read more

seismic retrofit of a hillside home

My house was built on a hillside

Hillside homes are very dangerous, in fact, life threatening.  Previous earthquakes have shown that standard seismic retrofit techniques that use plywood and bolts do not work on hillside homes. These retrofits require that the seismic retrofit contractor use a special building code developed in Los Angeles after the Northridge earthquake.  These retrofits are very expensive, usually costing in the tens of thousands.  Seismic Retrofit Contractors can help you will this.Read more

Injuries because there was no seismic retrofit

When the shaking starts what do you do?

The first thing you will hear in any earthquake preparedness class is “Don’t Panic!”  That is excellent advice.  However, you can be sure you will panic.  Earthquakes are very frightening.  I was at the center of a very large Northern California 7.2 earthquake in 1992 in a house that had not been retrofitted.  It felt as if King Kong had lifted up the house and was shaking it violently.  My wife and I were both knocked to the living room floor.  Standing was out of the question because the shaking was so violent.  Your Office of Emergency Services can help you with this. Read more


Bay Area Retrofit
427 San Pablo Ave
Albany, CA 94706
Field offices in San Jose & Hayward


eeri-logo icc-icon
Structural Engineer's Association Icon

License Info

Works' Comp RWCC64393236
Contractors Lic #558462
Bond #SC6334450
Liability Ins PCA 1045011
Link to Contractor's License Board