Your house or apartment building is perhaps your most significant life investment. Strengthening it to resist natural disasters like earthquakes is an excellent way to protect your family and investments. Even though you have insured your home against earthquakes, if it is not structurally sound enough to resist natural disasters, you will lose many valuable items you have gathered for years.

At Orange County Home Remodeling, we can reduce the vulnerability of damage to your home through a retrofitting service. Nevertheless, before beginning the project, you should understand the retrofitting process and the indications that your home needs these services.

Retrofitting Definition

Retrofitting refers to adding new features to an existing structure, like a residential building, to reduce its vulnerability to natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, thunderstorms, and landslides. Your home is susceptible to damage from several natural disasters, with some, like earthquakes, capable of collapsing your home. If your home is in a disaster-prone area, you do not know when it will strike, and this could deny you peace of mind, especially if your home is not structurally sound to resist the disaster. Luckily, by having your home retrofitted by professionals, you will protect your family and investment, giving you peace of mind.

Forms of Natural Disasters Retrofitting Guards Against

Retrofitting reduces your home's or building’s vulnerability to damage caused by earthquakes, flooding, and high winds. Based on your location in Orange County, your home will be vulnerable to any of these disasters. When the retrofit is to safeguard the home against flooding, your remodeling contractor will elevate or raise the house so that when the water rises, it will not enter the building, causing property damage.

When retrofitting in areas prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, your project will involve reinforcing or adding new equipment to the walls and windows to enhance structural integrity. And when your locality is prone to earthquakes, the contractor will add new technology to your home's foundation. That way, your home will remain structurally sound even after an earthquake.

The Main Aim of Orange County Retrofitting 

Several environmental factors will test the structural integrity of your home during its existence. Out of these elements, the earthquake causes the most damage because it destroys the house’s internal structure, leaving it weak and unstable. It becomes unsafe for you and your family to continue living in the building, forcing you to abandon this huge investment and find a new home.

The damage levels on the concrete aspect of the structure are alarming. Even after following the state code during construction, the risk of the concrete element of the building deteriorating is still high. The reason for the deterioration is the corrosion of steel because it causes cracks in the concrete, spalls the concrete cover, and reduces the efficiency of the reinforcement, which eventually causes the building to collapse.

Civil engineers will recommend demolishing the building and starting reconstruction if the damage is extreme. However, retrofitting is handy if the structure is a heritage building or you want to preserve your home. Do not wait until the damage is done to save your home. If your locality is prone to earthquakes, you want to perform seismic retrofitting before the natural disaster hits, forcing you to build a new home. Those who try to save money by avoiding earthquake retrofitting services end up with massive losses in the long run when an earthquake demolishes their home. Therefore, retrofitting will help you save money and keep your loved ones safe during a natural disaster.

Increasing Safety

If you have an older home, you will need Orange County Home Remodeling’s retrofitting services because earthquakes are more damaging to these structures. Seismic retrofitting enhances the safety of your structure, keeping those living in it safe.

The earth’s crust produces immense energy in an earthquake. Our retrofitting services offer protection to reduce the damage done by this energy. Nevertheless, when the earthquake’s magnitude exceeds 7.5, even the structural items protecting the house could be damaged, so your home must have an easy exit.

Protecting your Financial Investment

Besides saving lives by keeping everyone in the home safe, seismic retrofitting protects your financial investment. A home is a considerable investment you have probably been saving for most of your life. You want to protect this investment by partnering with Orange County Home Remodeling for earthquake retrofitting services. If your home is insured against earthquakes, the remodeling company will increase its chances of obtaining reasonable compensation for the damages.

Additionally, you will reduce the damage done to the house. When the quake causes severe damage, you could be forced to demolish the home and build from scratch. However, if you had performed retrofitting in the building, the damage caused by the natural disaster would have been minimal. You will only need to perform a few cheap repairs on the home, and with no time, it will be safe to live in. Retrofitting services will save you massive amounts of money and time.

Value Addition to Your Home

By enlisting retrofitting services, you protect your investment and add value. California has seismic or earthquake retrofit ordinances to protect communities against extreme economic failure. Therefore, your home will have more value in the market if it meets the state’s requirements. Buyers will be willing to pay more for a safer home than one vulnerable to earthquakes because it lacks seismic retrofits.

Signs You Need Seismic Retrofitting

Every home is unique, making your retrofitting needs different from others. It is challenging to tell if your home requires seismic retrofitting, considering you are not a professional because identifying these needs requires skills and training. Besides, some houses are structurally sound against earthquakes, while others have architectural designs that expose your home to damage during seismic activity. It is essential to retrofit your home against seismic activity in Orange County if it was constructed before 1990. Civil engineers have found better ways to make structures safer. However, those constructed before the new technology are still prone to damage due to mild earthquakes because of their architectural flaws.

However, if your home was built recently, it has all the retrofitting requirements. Still, it is crucial to have a home remodeling expert inspect it to ensure the retrofitting elements are current and meet state ordinance requirements. A new home could need a few renovations to enhance its earthquake resistance.

If, after inspection, the professional identifies structural flaws, you must talk to Orange County Home Remodeling for earthquake retrofitting services. Sometimes you could be forced to abandon the house entirely if it is aging. Nevertheless, a retrofit can add more years to your aging home when the damage is not severe.

Various House Types and Their Vulnerabilities

Before looking at the methods and equipment used for retrofit, it is critical to understand the types of houses available in Orange County. The common house types are:

  • Raised Foundation Houses

The structures are constructed below the crawl space or first floor and can shift off the foundation from seismic activity. The houses are strengthened through foundation bolting using anchor bolts.

  • Stem-Wall Houses

Stem-wall homes have elevated foundations, with the first floor made of a wooden frame supported by a raised concrete foundation. The structure slides off during an earthquake to preserve the house’s architectural integrity.

  • Hillside Homes

Homes constructed on steep hills stand on tall and narrow posts with walls going down the hill. The house’s foundation anchors the weight of the entire structure, although its architectural style is not designed to protect the house against shaking, which exposes the house to damage in the event of seismic activity. Retrofitting is mandatory in these houses to boost structural integrity.

  • Cripple-Wall Homes

Also known as crawl space homes, cripple-wall houses have an elevated foundation with a crawl space underneath the home. The space has wood-framed walls in the middle of the foundation and the first wood-framed crawl space, or first floor.

  • Post and Pier Houses

The homes have elevated foundations, but the wooden floor is anchored on upright wooden posts. The wooden posts rest on separate concrete blocks or pier pads around the perimeter and the inside of the first floor.

Your retrofitting requirements vary based on your kind of home. There are various solutions for strengthening the foundation, and you will pick the best solution if you know the type of house you want to remodel.

Techniques You Can Use to Retrofit Your Home

Our home renovators will employ various tools and techniques for seismic retrofit services when they visit your home. The techniques and tools are aimed at improving the structural soundness of your building.

Foundation Bolts

Bolt-down, or foundation-bolting, enhances the link between the wood frame and the concrete foundation. If your home is wood-framed, seismic activity will likely damage it because the ground shifts under the house while inertia holds the structure in place. A weak connection between the frame and concrete foundation makes your home vulnerable to destruction because of the shaking.

Thankfully, installing bolts to connect the wood frame with the concrete foundation prevents the house from shaking or shifting, keeping it structurally sound after seismic activity.

Foundation bolts come in many forms and techniques, and the type to be used on your home depends on your unique needs and house type. Generally, your house renovator will find mudsills, which are thick wood pieces, and drill the bolts through the wood into the concrete. Even if your home already has bolts installed, it is crucial to have them checked because they could be broken due to past shaking or so rusted that they no longer connect the wood frame and the concrete foundation.

It is easy to assume that driving bolts through wood and concrete is easy. Nevertheless, the procedure is more complex than it seems. Your remodeling contractor must utilize specific bolts based on the load they can support. If the wrong bolts are used, your home will be more exposed to damage when seismic activity happens.

There are two types of bolts. The first is the expansion or mechanical foundation bolt, commonly used by home remodeling contractors. They are affordable but only suitable for robust foundation concrete. Once the bolt is drilled into the foundation, its tip expands outward, giving it a strong grip on the foundation and holding the house in place in an earthquake. The disadvantage of this type of bolt is that it can damage the foundation due to its high kinetic energy levels.

The other type of bolt is an epoxy set. The bolts are more expensive than the expansion bolts because of their high efficiency under particular circumstances. They are suitable if your foundation is damaged and you want to prevent further damage. Epoxy-set bolts are not drilled into the concrete. Instead, they have special glue that bonds with your concrete foundation. The bond formed between the bolt and concrete resists uplift motion, a common occurrence during earthquakes. Also, the bolts are longer than the expansion ones, allowing them to go deeper into the concrete foundation, offering more stability.

Also, foundation bolts involve various forms of hardware. One of the pieces of hardware is the plate washer used with the foundation bolt. Foundation plates are another piece of hardware that can be used where mudsills and foundation bolts cannot. You will need the hardware when there is insufficient vertical space for foundation bolts.

Cripple Wall Bracing

If you have a cripple wall house, the earthquake can break the lumber in the cripple walls. Our Orange County Home Remodeling renovators will create cripple wall braces to stabilize the crawlspace wall edges and prevent damage during seismic activity.

Foundation Hold Down Brackets

As the name suggests, foundation hold down brackets are used to resist the rolling and lifting caused by the seismic activity to keep the walls connected to the foundations. The brackets are right-angled and directly link the walls and the foundation. Your renovator uses epoxy-set bolts when installing the brackets because the bolts bond to the concrete using glue and therefore do not cause damage to the foundation.

It would help to know that even if your house is not a cripple wall, you can still benefit from earthquake retrofitting. All you need to do is invite the home remodeling contractor you want to do the job to inspect the house and find suitable solutions to keep your family and capital-intensive investment safe. At Orange County Home Remodeling, we have multiple pieces of equipment and techniques we can use to meet the state’s retrofitting requirements.

Cost of Retrofitting

The amount of money you spend on retrofitting services depends on the type of house, the materials used, and the contractor doing the job. It can be tempting to buy the necessary retrofit materials and renovate yourself to save money. However tempting it is, you will not do quality work like a professional contractor, exposing your home to the risk of damage during an earthquake. You will spend more money to repair or rebuild the house than you could have spent hiring a professional retrofitting service. Therefore, hire a professional and obtain a detailed quotation for the entire project.

On average, it will cost you $5,000 to retrofit a one-story house with a sound crawlspace. However, for multiple-story buildings with no significant complications, earthquake retrofitting will cost you approximately $10,000.

Talk to the team you want to hire for the project about the available retrofitting techniques and find the right one. A good renovator will explain the benefits and disadvantages of each technique so you can make an informed decision about protecting your home.

Building Codes on Retrofitting

The California legislature excludes retrofitting from building codes. Therefore, you do not need to worry whether your home complies with the state’s building code after your retrofitting project. There are no regulations on earthquake retrofitting because each home has unique features and vulnerabilities to seismic activity, making it impossible to establish uniform regulations to guide these renovations. Again, building codes focus on mandatory requirements, eliminating the need to include retrofitting in the regulations because it is a voluntary project.

The only guidelines available are the “prescriptive plans,” which contain basic procedures you should follow during your retrofit project. However, if your procedure differs from the plan, there will be no penalties for disregarding the local building plans.

Impact of Retrofitting on Your Daily Activities

Most retrofitting projects happen in the crawlspace, meaning the renovators will not interfere with your routines. Also, the project only takes a week to complete. Apart from the noise from the basement, you will not notice work in your home.

Nevertheless, for a streamlined project, the contractor will need assistance. They will request you show them around the house during the initial inspection. Further, you and other people living in the house will be asked for ideas on the project. If you have items in the crawlspace or basement, the renovator will need help moving them to make room for the work. Finally, you should be available during the final inspection to ensure the project is done satisfactorily.

Find a Knowledgeable Retrofitting Expert Near Me

When you are worried about your home’s capacity to resist damage from seismic activity or other natural disasters, you want to find the right retrofitting service to help protect your investment and ensure your family’s safety. At Orange County Home Remodeling, we understand earthquake-proofing and are willing to listen to your needs and devise a bespoke retrofitting plan that suits these needs. Call us today at 657-660-3481 to start the journey of making your home safe.


Orange County Home Remodeling has a team of skilled contractors focused on one goal: providing superior designs, outstanding workmanship, and individualized customer service for the most outstanding home remodeling and renovation projects in the Orange County region. We are insured, licensed, and bonded, and with combined years of experience, you can trust us to do the job right the first time. Call us today at 657-660-3481 to get started on your home remodel project.

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