How to Find a Good Earthquake Retrofit Contractor


Women considers check boxes deciding how to find a good earthquake retrofit contractor


Go no further!  We are earthquake retrofit contractors (I, Howard Cook) put this website together. We think we are the best in the business and we hope we can prove that to you.  It took a lot of research and and I hope you can see we know a lot.

Homeowners and contractors think a retrofit is the same as putting in bolts and nailing up plywood.   It is not that simple.  There is a book 180 pages long that explains how to retrofit a house end even it leaves some things out.

This  New York Times article as well as this CBS News Report are exposes’ on the idea that retrofits are simple.  People have paid $10,000 or more for retrofit that will not work.    This is a natural consequence of   not having a retrofit building code .

The earthquake will let you know if you hired the wrong or wrong contractor.  Do some research.  You should know as much if not more than the contractor you hire.  Do the same kind of research you would do if you were buying a new car. It is not that hard if you take the time.


Earthquake Retrofit Contractor Screening

Contractors and engineers won’t be able to retrofit your house without being  familiar with the science.  This includes metallurgy and tests done in university and government testing laboratories, to mention tests done by hardware manufacturers.  Familiarity with old building codes is a must.

One must know how houses fail in earthquakes.  Photos can be found at the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.  If you don’t know how houses are damaged, there is no way to know how to prevent that damage.

Getting a Referral

References from non-professionals won’t  help you much.  A contractor may have been easy to deal with and clean, but that is not important.  You want to know if the retrofit will hold up in an earthquake, not how friendly the contractor was.

In contrast professionals such as members of the American Society of Home Inspectors are reliable.  They see retrofits everyday and will know which contractor does quality work.

Asking a Contractor the Right Questions

Asking questions about the subject is probably your best test of competency.  Ask  the contractor two or three of these questions and see if he knows the answer.

1- Is your contractor familiar with all the extant retrofit guidelines?

2- Has he read this book on home retrofitting?

3- Does your seismic retrofit contractor familiar with the Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic? 

4- Does your earthquake retrofit contractor know about the 3 methods used in building retrofit shear walls are?

5- Does your seismic retrofit contractor  know which organization is responsible for shear wall tests in Canada and the United States?   This is also very important because their tests and reports are the basis of many provisions in the building code.

6- Is your contractor familiar with Appendix Chapter A3 of the International Existing Building Code?

7- Is your contractor  know when retrofits require epoxy bolts instead of wedge anchors or when foundations are so compromised nothing will work?  Is he aware of these tests regarding the performance of old foundations? 

8-Is your contractor familiar with old building code provisions that specify the strength of existing structures.   If you don’t know how resistant a building  already is, you can’t know where to address the weak.  Does he know this is in the International Existing Building Code?  Does he even know what that is?

9- Does your seismic retrofit contractor where to find the shear wall strength tables are? 

10- Can he tell you what the principle of rotation is?


Areas Served

San Jose,Sunnyvale, Fremont,Oakland,Berkeley
And Surrounding Areas


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