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earthquake retrofitting

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: Sep 20 2003

I have a few earthquake questions:

I heard that Eichler's are more earthquake-proof than other houses because they are single story and of wood post-and-beam construction. Is this true? Do Eichlers give more in an earthquake?

How easy are Eichlers to retrofit? Can the house be bolted to the foundation if there is no crawlspace?

Can anyone recommend a good retrofitter for Eichler's? I am in San Mateo on the Peninsula.

Can anyone recommend an inspector, geologist, or seismologist who can look at my home and estimate what kind of damage I would sustain in an earthquake, based upon my home's structural soundness, my soil (bay fill), and my location (between the San Andreas and Hayward faults).

The reason I'm asking all these questions is that I'm considering cancelling my earthquake insurance, using some of the savings to retrofit my Eichler, and cross my fingers.

Any advice would be most appreciated.



Joined: Mar 23 2003

Hi , I sure that all the eichler are bolted on to the foundation already. Homes that are built after the 50 s were all bolted down.

Joined: Jul 1 2003

The most recent issue of the Eichler newsletter is devoted to Q&A on common maintenance, repair & re-modeling topics. My wife, I think, threw it out rather than retain it for reference. There was a question about how Eichlers would withstand an earthquake, and I think the general theme was that post & beam construction was be a bit better than other construction methods.
The Q was a general interest topic and the answer was just as general, so there were really nothing to follow through with.
My wife has been after me to get EQ insurance, but I've been slow in the process - - I think my cost would be about $800-$1,000 per year in Sunnyvale with a 15-25% deductible, so over 10-years, you would have $8K-$10K to spend on retrofits, sustain some damage (within the deductible) and be better off than paying into an insurer who may low-ball you in claims adjustment (none of the standard insurers like the big direct writers like State Fram, Allstate, etc. would offer coverage on our Eichler because the previous owner had 2 "water damage" claims in 3 years - - one was for $3,800 and another was pending) - - - it's true -- insurance is "use it and lose it." (As a side note, claims history on HOUSES is recorded in the CLUE database while your insurer has claims history on you; in auto insurance, insurers are increasingly uisng credit scoring plus claims history to underwriter rather than the age, maritial status, location criteria. In my case, the insurance companies didn't like the house, so I had to get coverage from broker markets that are 25-50% higher premium).

In any event, it seems you are entering an area which typical Eichler owners haven't wander into but I think you're asking the right questions about soil, construction, etc., and unlike many other projects, you are betting the house and caution is warranted.

Joined: Mar 20 2003

There is a relatively affordable earthquake insurance available from GeoVera which specializes in this kind of insurance:

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