Home Buying in Milpitas>Question Details

Mary Fister, Home Buyer in Santa Clara, CA

I am planning to buy a new home in bay area. Were old homes build to resist earthquakes. Or new homes are better.

Asked by Mary Fister, Santa Clara, CA Wed May 1, 2013

Also how much earthquake insurance generally cost?

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That's great information, John. Thank you.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
BTW, I forgot to mention that homes built afther the 1994 Northridge were built to a higher standard than homes built before that. It is rare today to retrofit any circa '40's and earlier home for 1 to 3k unless it's very small.

If it' built from cica 40's through the 50's and all you need is bolting, joists and rafter clips you'll be looking at much more. Please don't get your hopes built up with any figures posted on this thread. You really need to talk to the experts in your area to get the straight skinny.

Also please take a few moments to peruse the tread I sent you that contains actuarl drawing and details and pretty thoroughly spells out detail by dedail the proper protocol for today's earthquake retrofitting requirements.

I might suggest that any/all RE professionals answering this thread do the same before they strart putting numbers down for all to see. Here's that thread again:


Please take the time to peruse it. You won't be sorry.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
Back atcha Mack. Hope you can put it to good use.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
It depends on what you mean by old homes. Homes built in the 1980s have generally followed stricter codes than those from the 1940s, but you still need to have an inspector check out the construction of each home to properly assess your risks.

Brand new homes should be better, if you buy from a quality home builder. A good builder will use the latest products that are stronger than before, like using anchor bolts instead of nails.

As for the cost, that also depends on your location and value insured. In the South Bay, you should expect to pay something around $1-3K.
Web Reference: http://www.archershomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
Hi Mary, I've been a general contractor who has specialize in disaster response and restoration work for almost 3 generations. We've mobilized to every major disaster, earthquakes, fires, floods, tornados and even hurricanes. We've been onsite in every major earthquake since 1986 and have salvaged, demolished, renovated and restored thousands of manufactured and site built home during this time.

If the home in question was built before circa 60's there's a good chance that it will need some form of EQ retrofitting. If it was built circa 40's and before there's a good likely hood that the home was never adequately secured to the foundation if at all.

Additionally, if your home has a Cripple Wall (small wall below the floor aka crawl space) you would need to have it properly shear paneled to make it EZ resistant to a magnitude 7 event. Anything beyond a mag 7 has to date never been approved and accepted by current building standards.

This type of information generally goes beyond the capacity of the average home inspector and even licensed general contractor who has no experience with EQ retrofitting. I would definitely seek out someone who has a long history of EZ retrofitting in your area and make sure their licensed, bonded and adequately insured with at least a 1 million dollar liability with a 3 million dollar umbrella and has been doing retrofitting projects ongoing for several years. Then go look at what he did and make sure he pulled al the proper permits and look to see that the final inspection from the building jurisdiction signed it off.

Here's a couple of links: http:



It may be worth consulting with a couple of these companies even if it cost you a few extra bucks. Believe me I can't tell you how many total demolitions we've done because folks didn't think they needed to be a little pro active.

The average cost to bolt a foundation will cost between $10 and $25 per lineal foot of footing depending on the type of home it is and how many story's it has. The cost for shear paneling a cripple wall should run between $15 & $40 per sf depending on the degree of complexity and accessibility. It's not unusual to have to remove and replace electrical, plumbing, HVAC materials and equipment and/or any other obstacles necessary to access the work area for a code compliant installation.

I'm giving you all this information because this is not a decision to take lightly. It could be the difference between your home being green tagged which allows you to continue habitating your home and yellow tagged which means you need to make certain repairs within a certain period of time and may or may not be able to habitate the dwelling and red tagged which more often than not ends up costing you more than you owe on the property to repair or it's a total loss and will have to be demolished.

Finally, if you're comfortable and familiar looking at architectural or know someone who is please take the time to peruse the following website. It actually gives you a blow by blow description of everything I've offered up to you so far. Extremely detailed and informative:


If you have any further questions or need any information about selecting a contractor should you decide to move forward please feel free to reach out anytime. You can call me at 760 815-6977 or email me at onthelevel@cox.net. Good luck.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
You will need to call your home owner's insurance to determine the cost and deductible for insurance.

Newer homes are built to today's standards so they should be built better. With that, older homes have withstood several earthquakes. In your purchase you will receive a Natural Hazard and Geological Report and it will discuss if the property is in fault zone or Liquefaction Zone.

Your agent and these reports should help you make a sound decision.

Have an amazing day!
Web Reference: http://www.TerriVellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
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