In the greater San Diego area, the Rose Canyon Fault runs through the heart of the city and along the ocean, presenting a major seismic hazard to the region. The San Diego area’s large population, coupled with the seismic vulnerability of its older homes, buildings and infrastructure systems, put the region at risk of significant damage from earthquakes.
Older homes, especially those built before 1980, are more susceptible to earthquake damage because they were constructed before modern seismic building codes were put in place. According to U.S. Census data, more than 53 percent of the housing units in San Diego County fall into that category of being built before 1980 and could be in need of retrofitting.
With a 99 percent chance of at least one major earthquake striking anywhere in California in the next 30 years, there has never been a better time to take action to strengthen your home against earthquake damage. As renowned seismologist Lucy Jones once said on CNN, “The earthquake is inevitable, but the disaster is not. The disaster is what the earthquake does to human structures. We change those human structures, we can eliminate the disaster.”
For many homeowners, the value of their property and the equity they have in it represent the lion’s share of their savings and retirement nest egg. A simple, relatively inexpensive seismic retrofit can significantly reduce the chances of an older home falling completely off its foundation — perhaps resulting in a total loss — even in a moderate earthquake.
One of the key self-help elements in strengthening your home is seismic retrofitting, a process which can be straightforward and often not as expensive as homeowners might think. Depending on the type of retrofit needed, the work can usually be done in a couple of days, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $7,000. And importantly, as we continue the practice of social distancing, homeowners can remain inside their dwelling as workers do the job without entering the residence.