CEA is committed to making California communities safer, more resilient, and better able to recover from a damaging earthquake.
If you own an older house (built before 2000), consider a seismic retrofit to strengthen it and make it more resistant to earthquakes.
There are several kinds of seismic retrofits—the one you need depends on what type of house you have.*
Brace & Bolt Retrofit
A “brace and bolt” retrofit strengthens homes built before 1980 that have what’s known as a raised foundation. Often these houses have one or two steps up to a front porch. This seismic retrofit involves bolting or bolting and bracing the house to its foundation in compliance with California Existing Building Code Chapter A3.
- Learn how a retrofit may help you get a 25% discount on your CEA policy premium.
There are two programs that can help fund your Brace + Bolt retrofit. For CEA policyholders, you may be eligible for funding through the CEA Brace + Bolt (CEA BB) program. For everyone else, including CEA policyholders who do not meet the eligibility requirements for CEA BB, you may be eligible for funding through the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program that is run by the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP). EBB is open to California homeowners in select ZIP Codes.
More information on both programs is provided below.
Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB)
Earthquake Brace + Bolt is an incentive program, run by the CRMP, that offers grants of up to $3,000 to qualified homeowners with eligible houses in a select number of higher-earthquake-risk ZIP Codes.
You do not need to be a CEA policyholder to be eligible for this grant.
ZIP Codes chosen for program participation are ordered by the following two criteria:
- Earthquake Hazard: Hazard was identified using the United States Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake hazard map for California.
- Earthquake Vulnerability: Vulnerability was determined by identifying the percentage of pre-1940 houses in ZIP Codes in California (US Census Data). Older houses are more likely to require earthquake bracing and bolting.
Over time, and with additional funding, CRMP hopes to make all high hazard areas in California eligible for EBB grant funding.
Income-eligible homeowners may also qualify for a Supplemental Grant if their household income is $87,360 or less. When combined, these grants may be able to pay for up to 100 percent of a homeowner’s retrofit, if they qualify. Grants are contingent upon meeting eligibility requirements and available funds.
EBB program registration is open for a limited time each year. Visit the EBB website to learn when program registration is open, and if your home qualifies.
Learn about the value of an EBB retrofit
The Mosers - Earthquake Brace + Bolt
The Mosers live in South Berkeley, and they wanted to be sure they protected their investment by purchasing earthquake insurance and retrofitting their house through the Earthquake Brace + Bolt program.
CEA Brace + Bolt (CEA BB)
In 2023, CEA is offering eligible policyholders financial assistance to lessen the potential for earthquake damage to their houses. This program offers grants of up to $3,000 to help CEA policyholders pay for a seismic retrofit.
To qualify for the 2023 CEA BB program:
- You must have been invited by letter to participate in the CEA BB program,
- You must be losing the 5% and 10% deductible option for Coverage A (dwelling) on your property,
- You must have a valid CEA earthquake insurance policy on the qualifying house, and
- The qualifying house must be a pre-1980 house with pre-1980 construction with a raised or “other” foundation type in determining the CEA policy premium.
Learn more about the CEA BB program.
Learn about the value of a CEA BB retrofit
- Susan from Los Angeles
Living Space Over Garage Retrofit
Retrofits of single-family houses that have a living space over a garage, or “soft story,” are needed because without reinforcement of the garage area, they are especially at risk of collapse during an earthquake. A soft-story seismic retrofit strengthens the garage door and ground floor walls of the house so it can better withstand earthquake shaking.
Earthquake soft-story retrofits are performed in accordance with FEMA P-1100 (PDF).
The California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) offers an Earthquake Soft-Story (ESS) grant program to help fund your seismic retrofit.
Earthquake Soft-Story (ESS)
CRMP’s Earthquake Soft-Story (ESS) is a seismic retrofit grant program designed to help protect homeowners from earthquake damage. CRMP created ESS to provide California homeowners with grants of up to $13,000 to seismically retrofit their soft-story house to better withstand earthquakes.
You may be eligible to apply for an ESS grant if (among other criteria):
- You own and live in the house you would like to retrofit;
- The house is located in one of the ESS program areas, which are designated by ZIP Code
- Your house was built before 2000;
- Your house has a living space over the garage;
- Your house is no more than two stories;
- Your house is built on level ground or a slight slope;
- Your house is wood-framed construction; and
- You have not already completed a soft-story retrofit.
You do not need to be a CEA policyholder to be eligible for this grant.
When ESS registration is open, you can complete ESS Registration online or request a paper registration form to mail. You will be asked questions about your house, and your answers will determine if your home qualifies for an ESS retrofit grant.
Access more Retrofit resources
Even if your house does not have a raised foundation or a living space over the garage, your home may still be vulnerable to earthquake damage.
- Get more information to learn about how to strengthen your house, whether it be a post-and-pier house, a hillside home, a mobile or manufactured home, or if you need to learn how to make chimneys safer.
- And view resources on earthquake preparedness and earthquake safety, and other types of financial resources available to help you pay for a seismic retrofit.
Are you a California-licensed contractor, and interested in learning how to complete seismic retrofits for new customers receiving grant money? You can register and complete training for EBB and ESS, after which you’ll be automatically placed in the EBB and ESS Contractor Directories that homeowners use to select a contractor to complete their retrofit. Learn more about how to register with CRMP, complete program training, and get on the EBB and ESS Contractor Directories.
An earthquake or other natural disaster can occur at any time. CEA and the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) provide monetary grants to assist qualified homeowners in securing structural home improvements in an effort to reduce (but not eliminate) damage or collapse in the event of an earthquake.
Anyone who accesses the information on this website acknowledges and accepts that CEA and CRMP are not offering technical earthquake or seismic engineering advice with regards to any specific home; that the information on CEA and CRMP websites are intended solely as general educational information regarding the potential benefits of homeowners interested in earthquake safety, and that none of the information may or should be construed as a guarantee of the efficacy of any particular seismic retrofit or service provider.