Earthquake Brace+Bolt

You are using an unsupported browser. To fully use all the features of this website please update your browser to IE 10 or later. Alternatively use another browser (Firefox or Google Chrome). Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Strengthen Your House

CEA developed the CEA BB program to help policyholders reduce the risk of damage to their older house during an earthquake with a “code-compliant” brace and bolt retrofit. As part of the program, once the retrofit is complete, policyholders may qualify for up to a 25 percent discount (after July 1, 2019) on their CEA earthquake insurance premium. Invited Policyholders register here.

The CEA Brace + Bolt (CEA BB) program provides policyholders up to $3,000 to strengthen their foundation and lessen the potential for earthquake damage.

Many policyholders will decide to hire a contractor to do the retrofit work instead of doing it themselves.  

The CEA BB program relies on adherence to the California Building Code, Appendix Chapter A3. Chapter A3 is a statewide building code that sets prescriptive standards for seismic retrofits of existing residential buildings. A typical retrofit may cost between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on the location and size of the house, contractor fees, and the amount of materials and work involved. If the policyholder is an experienced do-it-yourselfer, a retrofit can cost less than $3,000. 

Chapter A3 allows:

  1. the building department to approve the retrofit for a house with a 4-foot or shorter cripple wall, without requiring plans prepared by a registered design professional (architect or engineer).
  2. retrofits for houses with cripple walls higher than 4-feet with plans prepared by a registered design professional.
  3. prescriptive plan for houses that sit directly on their foundation (BOLT-ONLY RETROFIT).

Surrounding the crawl space under the first floor, many houses have a short wood framed wall ("cripple wall") that needs to be strengthened to prevent the house from sliding or toppling off of its foundation during an earthquake. Strengthening involves adding anchor bolts and plywood bracing in the crawl space.

More information on qualifying retrofits.

Crawl space view


CEA BB is limited to funding residential retrofit expenses in the crawl space that:

  • Bolt: add anchor bolts and sill plates in the crawl space to improve the connection between the wood framing of the house and its concrete foundation to help keep the house from sliding.
  • Brace: strengthen the cripple walls in the crawl space with plywood to help keep the house from toppling off of the foundation during an earthquake. Strengthening cripple walls enables them to function as shear members, significantly protecting the house from collapsing.
  • Strap and Brace the Water Heater: properly strap and brace the water heater to reduce the likelihood of water and fire damage, and to protect the water supply.

Houses that meet Chapter A3 specifications are typically:

  • wood-framed construction built before 1980
  • built on a level or low slope
  • constructed with a 4-foot (or less) cripple wall under the first floor OR
  • constructed with a cripple wall between 4 feet and 7 feet (requires an engineered solution) 
  • have a raised foundation

Where is the Program Being Held?

Policyholders must be invited into the CEA Brace + Bolt program to participate. Qualifying policyholders have a CEA policy, own a pre-1980 house with a raised foundation, and have a house whose characteristics qualify for a brace-and-bolt retrofit. 



Qualifying for the program

Policyholders invited into the program must ensure their house qualifies for a Chapter A3 retrofit. While our data shows your property has house characteristics that would qualify for the code-compliant retrofit, we need to verify your information. Simply select “Register” to begin the process.  

You will be asked to confirm information and answer specific questions about your house characteristics. 

If your house qualifies, you will receive an immediate notification. You will also receive a Policyholder Packet in the mail with all program details and information to share with your contractor. 



CEA BB Overview

Google Translate