Earthquake Brace+Bolt

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The Retrofit

A CEA Brace + Bolt (CEA BB) retrofit is in compliance with California Building Code, Chapter A3. Chapter A3 is specific to light, wood-frame houses. This is why it is important to make sure your house has a foundation that is in compliance. Qualifying foundations are concrete and reinforced masonry and include cripple walls or stem walls. 



The photos below show 1) the top and bottom of a cripple wall (left photo) and 2) a stem wall (right photo).

                          CRIPPLE WALL                                                                                                                                                            STEM WALL


Chapter A3 allows:

  • a prescriptive plan for houses that sit directly on their foundation (BOLT-ONLY RETROFIT);
  • a prescriptive plan for houses with cripple walls 4 feet tall or less (BRACE AND BOLT RETROFIT); and,
  •  an engineered solution for cripple walls taller than 4 feet (ENGINEERED SOLUTION). 

All retrofit work that complies with Chapter A3 is done in the crawl space and around the perimeter of the foundation. The approved retrofit is for bolting (stem wall only) or bolting and bracing (cripple wall) --anchor bolts or foundation plates and plywood or OSB sheathing on the perimeter cripple walls.

  • Bolting = anchor bolts or foundation plates
  • Bracing = plywood or OSB sheathing 
  • An engineered solution is unique to each house 

Houses that sit completely on a slab on grade foundation, unreinforced masonry or stone foundation do not qualify for this type of retrofit. 

CEA BB also requires properly strapping the water heater. During past earthquakes, water heaters have moved or tipped over if they were not securely anchored to adjacent walls or floors. This movement has resulted in gas line or water line leaks, and electrical wiring damage. Gas line leaks and damaged electrical wiring pose health and fire hazards, and water line leaks can cause significant and costly property damage.                                                                                       Resources for strapping and bracing your water heater: Earthquake Country Alliance


Before and After Retrofit Photos

Example 1: House Front / Side

Examples below showing correct photos for the front and side of the house.                                                                                                                                       House Front Photos: Should show full front of the house, top to bottom, side to side, nearly filling the full frame.


House Side Photos: Whenever possible, photos should show full length of right/left side of house from roofline to foundation, showing vents. (For two story houses, it may not be possible to get roofline and foundation in picture. In such situations get full length of house from foundation with as much of the side wall as possible)



Example 2: Before Photos

Example 2 shows a wood-framed house with a less than 4-foot cripple wall that requires bracing and bolting.

Before Photo           

Example 2: After Photos

Note the plywood or OSB sheathing around the perimeter of the foundation (bracing) and the metal foundation plates (bolting) around the perimeter of the foundation.



Example 3: Before Photos

Example 2 shows a wood-framed house that sits directly on the foundation and requires a bolt-only retrofit.



Example 3: After Photos

Note the metal foundation plates (bolting) around the perimeter of the foundation.




These photos are taken too close to the house and not showing the front of the house.

House Front photos:


Following photos are taken from wrong angle of the house and not showing full side of the house.

House side photos:



All retrofit work takes place around the perimeter of the foundation. These photos show work done to the piers and posts in the middle of the crawl space that do not qualify for a Chapter A3 retrofit. 


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