Brace + Bolt

The Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program is a state-sponsored, incentive program developed to help homeowners lessen the potential for damage to their houses during an earthquake. For older homes whose foundations do not meet current building standards with regards to seismic preparedness, the EBB program will subsidize the cost of a seismic retrofit. The seismic retrofit involves bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space.

Owners of houses in program ZIP Codes with house characteristics suitable for this type of retrofit in accordance with California Existing Building Code Chapter A3 (Chapter A3) may be eligible for an incentive payment of up to $3,000 to help pay costs associated with the retrofit of their houses.

Seismic Retrofitting

Surrounding the crawl space under the first floor, many houses have a short-wood framed wall (“cripple wall”) that needs to be strengthened to help prevent the house from sliding or toppling off of its foundation during an earthquake. Seismic Retrofitting involves:

  • Bolting:  Adding anchor bolts in the crawl space to improve the connection between the wood framing of a building and its concrete foundation.
  • Bracing: Adding plywood to the cripple walls to help keep the house from toppling off of the foundation during an earthquake.

The Retrofit

An Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) retrofit is in compliance with California Building Code Chapter A3. Chapter A3 is specific to light, wood-frame houses. This is why it is important to make sure your house has a foundation that is in compliance. Qualifying foundations are concrete and reinforced masonry and include cripple walls or stem walls. Chapter A3 provides:

  • A prescriptive plan for houses that sit directly on their foundation (BOLT-ONLY RETROFIT);
  • A prescriptive plan for houses with cripple walls 4 feet tall or less (BRACE AND BOLT RETROFIT); and,
  • An engineered solution for cripple walls that exceed 4-feet tall up to 7 feet tall (ENGINEERED SOLUTION).

All retrofit work that complies with Chapter A3 is done in the crawl space and around the perimeter of the foundation. The approved retrofit is for bolting (stem wall only) or bolting and bracing (cripple wall) — anchor bolts or foundation plates and plywood or OSB sheathing on the perimeter cripple walls.

  • Bolting refers anchor bolts or foundation plates
  • Bracing refers to plywood or OSB sheathing to the cripple walls

*Please note:

  • Houses with a slab on grade foundation, unreinforced masonry or stone foundation do not qualify for this type of retrofit.
  • The program requires that homeowners show evidence that their water heater has been property strapped. During past earthquakes, water heaters have moved or tipped over if they were not securely anchored to adjacent walls or floors.This movement has resulted in gas line or water line leaks, and electrical wiring damage. Gas line leaks and damaged electrical wiring pose health and fire hazards, and water line leaks can cause significant and costly property damage.

For more information, give us a call today at 650-343-3133 or email us at [email protected]