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Give your pre-1979 home a gift this year

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

It’s December and time to start thinking about gifts for your friends and family. But how about a gift for your pre-1979 home?

This is a very practical gift. It’s not a fancy and better functioning kitchen or a luxurious bathroom. It’s not even a water conscious and beautiful front yard curb appeal.  This gift idea is probably something that you won’t show your friends and family after it is done. However, this gift will give you comfort and peace of mind that you are protecting your investment and caring for the safety of your loved ones.

Give your home a seismic retrofit.

Why do I suggest giving this gift to your older home? Because prior to 1979 it was not very likely to bolt the wood framing of a home to the concrete foundation. It just rests on top. You can check this by looking for bolts at the concrete/wood framing intersection in your crawl space or basement.

seismic oops

Image from LA Times

You may be thinking, “My house has already survived a few notable earthquakes, so it must be fine.”

Keep in mind that earthquakes are very dynamic and things like location of epicenter, and soils it traveled through before arriving at your exact location can vary how your home will react.


Here’s a few ways that a house reacts when experiencing an earthquake and the types of failures engineers and architects witness in the aftermath.

There are plenty of great articles and explanations about what happens to homes during an earthquake, so here are a few resources to get you started:

LA Times article

Earthquake Safety dot Com

Now that you’ve learned more about seismic retrofitting your home. Let’s get you on your way to finding products and professionals to help you get this work done.

The first step should be a trip to your local Building Department to discuss with them your plan to retrofit. They should be able to give you advice on what permitting will cost and what kind of documents are necessary. Most Building Departments really want homeowners to volunteer to do this work on your home, so they will likely have handouts, advice, low to no fees, and fast permitting ready for you.

Another great resource is the Simpson Strong Tie website:

Simpson has created an clip precisely designed for the seismic retrofit of single family homes. Their website also includes plans and installation information.

The construction of this work can be done by handy do-it-yourselfers or you can hire any licensed general contractor to do the work.

Happy Holidays to you. May your home always be a happy, warm and safe place for you and your family.



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