Should I Seismic Retrofit foundation?

3 Replies

Hi everyone! My girlfriend and I just bought our first house hack in Los Angeles. The house was built in 1914. During inspection, we were told that we need to Seismic Retrofit the foundation; bolt down, upgrade posts and piers, and support cripple walls. We got estimates for $15k and $8k to have the work done and were credited some money by the sellers for repairs before closing. But yesterday, a General contractor told us that we might just want to leave the foundation as is because retrofitting won’t guarantee that the house would still be standing after an earthquake. So now we’re thinking of just leaving the foundation alone and getting earthquake insurance instead to cover us. What do you guys think? The GC suggested we change out any galvanized piping left instead. Would love to hear different opinions and advice. Thanks!

Earthquake insurance is very expensive it would probably not be cheaper than leaving the foundation.  Not sure what type of foundation you have or if this is a soft story retrofit but I'd listen to the experts not the GC who wants you to spend your money with him.

@Aaron K. Thanks for your input. I was actually surprised EQ insurance wasn't more. I got quoted for about $60/mo for a 15% deductible. Well the GC is actually an investor himself who's company could do the seismic retrofit so I was really surprised he suggested not doing it. It's the structural engineers that I'm worried are just telling me it has to be done so that I spend the money to retrofit it. 

I guess the choice I'm struggling with is if I should pay the $10k to retrofit the foundation, leave the foundation and get EQ insurance, or retrofit the foundation and get EQ insurance? 

Scenarios:

a.) I pay to retrofit, if an earthquake comes, the retrofit could help or it could still be a total lose depending on the magnitude of the earthquake. 

b.) I don't retrofit but get EQ insurance and if an earthquake comes, at least I'll be in a better position to rebound financially if it's a total lose.

Any owners out there with older properties that have decided not to seismic retrofit their rentals?

@Mark De sagun even at $60 per month which is less than I was expecting you'll be essentially doubling your insurance premium forever and even if a quake comes with a 15% deductible you're still out of pocket $50k or more.  The rate is probably so low because the deductible is so high.  Standard insurance usually has a deductible of 1%-5% in most cases.

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