Interviewed on local PBS & the NewsHour

Bay Area Retrofit Mission & History

Bay Area Earthquake Probabilities and Consequences

One of the 4 houses below looks like yours. See what kind of retrofit you need.

Cripple Wall Retrofits

If your house has more than 3 steps into the front or back doors you probably have a cripple wall.  This is a short wall between the foundation and the floor you walk on.  Unbraced cripple walls can collapse in earthquakes.  Preventing collapse is the purpose of a cripple wall retrofit.

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No Cripple Wall Retrofits

If you have no more than 1 or 2 steps leading into the front and back doors you will be able to attach the floor directly to the foundation with steel.  After these houses are securely attached to their foundations they are probably the safest and most most protected houses of all.

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Houses with Living Area Above the Garage

Homes with living areas above a garage are hazardous because the garage door openings can collapse with catastrophic consequences.  This condition is called a soft story and the only thing that can keep this damage from occurring is a soft story retrofit.

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Houses on a Steep Hillside

Home built on steep lots are very prone to catastrophic damage where fatalities can and do occur.   Hillside home retrofits must follow a special building code that is practically unknown in the Bay Area.  Very few seismic retrofit contractors know how to install hillside home retrofits.

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Keeping Safe and Preventing Injuries

Former damage inspector and injury documentarian for the Federal Emergency Management Agency explains how best to protect yourself and your family from injuries and keeping safe.

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An Insider’s Critique of Standard Plan A 

Standard Plan A is a government sponsored retrofit guideline that addresses cripple wall as well as no cripple wall retrofits.  It is used by many Bay Area cities as well as the California Earthquake Authority.  This video is a detailed analysis of its approach to no cripple wall retrofits.

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Finding a Contractor

A seismic retrofit contractor with over 25 years experience shows you how to identify a competent contractor.  Find out which codes they should know, the type of research the should have done, and how to get references from engineers and professionals who can judge their expertise.

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Our Contributions to the Field

Howard Cook, Bay Area Retrofit’s founder, has been retrofitting homes for 25 years, has appeared on national TV and KQED, and worked as an earthquake damage inspector for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition he has served on the Berkeley Disaster Commission, taught courses for the Association of Bay Area Governments, and worked on retrofit guidelines with the International Code Council.

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