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Next Steps: Retrofit Process

Image: Next Steps in Retrofitting Process

Once you’ve identified your house type and its vulnerabilities and you know the type of retrofit that is needed, it’s time for you to make a plan to carry out the retrofit.

This includes hiring a contractor (or in some cases deciding to do the retrofit yourself under the EBB Program), deciding how you’ll pay for the retrofit, and scheduling out the timeline for completion.

Find the right Contractor for your Seismic Retrofit

You may decide that you want to shop around and get some estimates from several contractors before you make your final decision. The California Contractor State License Board (CSLB) recommends obtaining more than one bid. In addition to conducting your own search, we offer the following resources:

Here are 10 questions to ask a contractor—that could also be helpful questions to aid you in hiring a professional for your engineered retrofit—before you make your selection:

Image: Finding the right contractor for retrofitting

  1. Are you a licensed contractor? The contractor must be licensed to perform this specific type of retrofit work.
  2. What level of retrofit does my house require? You will want to know the work that is being recommended for your home to make sure you are comfortable with the alterations.
  3. What will the estimated cost be to retrofit my house? You should know the costs up front and ensure you are on the same page with both the cost and payment process.
  4. How many years have you been in business? This will help you understand your contractor’s experience level.
  5. How many house retrofits have you or has your business completed? This will let you know if the contractor has specific experience doing retrofit work.
  6. Do you have references? You can speak to prior customers to make sure they were satisfied with the work and see if there are any red flags.
  7. Are your employees experienced in the jobs they perform? You may want to make sure that the people hired to do the work have also performed retrofits in the past.
  8. Do you or does your company have insurance? How does this insurance protect me from liability? Your contractor or their business should have both workers' compensation and liability insurance. You have the right to see this documentation before hiring your contractor.
  9. How will you obtain permits for the work? Your contractor should know what permits are needed and should be willing to pull them for you. This would be included in your bill.
  10. How long will the retrofit take to be completed? Brace and bolt retrofits often only take a few days, but sometimes the process can take longer. You’ll want an estimate for how long it will take for the work to be completed.

Do Your Due Diligence

Once you’ve asked your questions, you should confirm that your contractor is licensed and insured, and call their references.

Perform a background check

This part is simple. The California Contractors State License Board has a public database of all licensed and insured contractors. Simply look up your contractor to make sure their license is current.

Check References

Once your contractor has provided you with a list of references, take some time to call them and ask about their experience. You can ask former clients questions like:

  • Are you satisfied with the work that was performed?
  • Were the final retrofit costs close to the estimate?
  • Were the workers respectful of your property?
  • Was the work done efficiently? If not, why not?
  • Was the contractor responsive to you if you had questions?

The references might even be able to email you “before” and “after” pictures of the retrofit so you can see what the final result looks like.

Review Their Coverage and History

As stated above, your contractor should have insurance that covers liability and worker’s compensation. This insurance protects you and your property in the event that something doesn’t go according to plan. You can also check on the contractor’s workers’ compensation history while you’re checking their license.

Once you have found your contractor in the public database of all licensed and insured contractors, you can scroll down and click on “Workers’ Compensation History."

Move Forward with Confidence

Once you’ve asked your questions, completed your research, and selected your contractor, it’s time to get going on your house retrofit! The last question to ask yourself is: “How do I want to pay for it?”

Find funding resources for your retrofit

Image: Discussing Retrofitting

California is earthquake country, and strengthening your home against quake damage is one of the best steps you can take toward improving its resilience.

You may have the savings to pay for this work out of pocket. But if you don’t, it's worth doing research to find out if you qualify for a seismic retrofit grant program. CRMP provides grants, and some cities offer incentives and rebates to help you fund your seismic retrofit.

CRMP has two retrofit grant programs which may help you pay for your retrofit:

  • Earthquake Brace + Bolt: Learn about CRMP’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt grant to see if you're eligible for an EBB grant.

Earthquake Brace + Bolt Grant Program

  • Earthquake Soft-Story: Learn about CRMP’s Earthquake Soft-Story grant to see if you're eligible for an ESS grant.

Earthquake Soft-Story Grant Program

  • And, learn about Other Financial Assistance Options that might work for you.

Other Financial Assistance Options

You can also visit our Resources page to learn more about strengthening your house and other steps you can take for personal and family safety and preparedness.