Earthquake Brace and Bolt program expanded to East Valley
Tyler Bonadiman of Bonadiman Construction bolts a historic Redlands home to its recently reinforced foundation so that it will be better prepared to withstand an earthquake.
Homes in Redlands, Highland, Mentone and parts of Loma Linda (based on zip codes) are now accepted into the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program. Zip codes in San Bernardino were eligible last year and are again this year.
In this program, historic-era homes that meet the program’s criteria are selected by lottery to have a seismic retrofit paid for by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), in conjunction with the California Earthquake Authority.
The program encourages all pre-1960 built home owners to get their homes bolted to their foundations. “This type of retrofit strengthens an older house to help prevent it from sliding off the foundation during an earthquake,” the website specifies.
The goal of the program is to mitigate damage that California emergency services will have to manage after The Big One. A thousand homes in the state were selected and announced today (March 17). It’s cheaper for government agencies to pay for the retrofits than it is for them to pay to rebuild.
“Agencies like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and Cal OES know that if people bolt their house down, if they strengthen their homes in this way, then it’s proven from past earthquakes that there will be less damage,” said Redlands contractor and earthquake retrofit specialist Jeff Bonadiman, who is trained by FEMA to do this kind of bolting, and is on the directory of certified contractors EBB participants are urged to use.
“Studies of earthquakes like the one in Northridge show those that were bolted faired much better than the ones that weren’t.”
In Redlands, 100-year-old Victorian and Craftsman homes are just sitting on their foundations, most of which are stones connected by mortar that is turning to powder. With lateral shaking, the homes have no chance of staying put. The life expectancy of mortar is about 25 years, according to Bonadiman.
A seismic retrofit involves securing the homes to the foundation, and reinforcing the foundation. Bonadiman has worked on several historic homes and buildings in Redlands, including the iconic red-brick First Congregational Church.
“Most of the stock of houses in Redlands are old, and they’re not bolted,” Bonadiman said Thursday. “They’re on unreinforced masonry. When The Big One hits, Redlands is going to crumble.”
The EBB program gives retrofit grants of up to $3,000 per house, and according to Bonadiman, most retrofits cost less than that.
“The ones I did last year for this program (in San Bernardino) -- I did eight -- cost the owners zero dollars,” Bonadiman said. “It’s cheaper for everybody (to retrofit instead of rebuild). And they know The Big One’s coming. Wouldn’t you want to mitigate the damage ahead of time?”
Homes eligible to be in the program must be in an eligible zip code. The house must be owner occupied, built before 1960, and have a crawlspace with a cripple or stem wall and concrete or masonry foundation. The homeowner must not have recently accepted incentive payment from this or any other retrofit program.
Following today’s announcement, participating Redlands, Loma Linda, Mentone, Highland and San Bernardino homeowners have eight weeks to find a contractor, get an estimate and get a permit from the city. Then they have six months to get the work completed. For any earthquake-construction questions, Bonadiman Construction can be reached at www.bonadimanconstruction.com or 909-772-3444.
The masonry intended to hold Redlands' 100-year-old homes' foundations together has long exceeded its life expectancy, which is 25 years. If you touch it, it turns to powder. In a seismic retrofit, that is all reinforced with rebar and then filled in with gunite.