Earthquake Brace Bolt Program (EBB)

earthquake brace bolt program

Earthquake brace bolt program (EBB) was created to help the property owners reduce the potential damage to their properties during further seismic activities. Seismic (earthquake) retrofit can strengthen older buildings, making them resistant to seismic activities, for example, soil failure or ground shaking. The earthquake retrofitting is employed by CA Existing Building Code Chapter A3, and it involves bolting the house to its bracing, as well as foundation accordingly to the perimeter of the crawlspace.

EBB And Homeowners

EBB offers a stimulus payment, on average $3,000 per house for an earthquake retrofit which is done by CA Existing Building Code, qualifying houses after the applicant has been accepted for participation in EBB provided participating homeowners:

  • Are eligible applicants

  • Complete a qualifying earthquake retrofit under the Earthquake Brace Bolt Program rules 

  • Send to the EBB Program all the documentation, that is required again by EBB rules

  • Abide by all earthquake brace bolt program rules

The price of a qualifying earthquake retrofit may go over the $3,000 EBB payment. All the costs related to a qualifying earthquake retrofit, which are greater than the EBB payment are the sole responsibility of the Participating Homeowner. EBB program incentive payment is a grant of funds, but not a loan. It also does not have to be repaid - All payments must be used for a purpose consistent with these rules. EBB incentive payments may constitute taxable income to the participating homeowner.

Qualifying earthquake retrofit

EBB requires an earthquake retrofit to be done by a  License Type B - Licensed General Building Contractor, which is listed in the EBB Contractor Directory or using a standard plan-set for qualifying houses, either by an owner-builder, as well as using plans prepared by a registered design professional (engineer or architect). The labor value provided by an owner-builder is not considered a compensatable out-of-pocket expense and is not a recoverable cost under the Earthquake Brace Bolt Program.

The qualifying earthquake retrofit is required to meet or exceed the Chapter A3 requirements for both cripple-wall bracing, in case cripple walls are involved and sill-plate anchorage. If a retrofit includes new sill-plate anchors but does not brace existing cripple walls, it means it will not qualify for the EBB grant. In addition to the earthquake retrofitting, the water heater also must be strapped correctly. In a seismic activity, unsecured water heaters can easily fall over, cracking gas and water connections. A strapped water heater will lessen the possible damage of water and fire.

If the bracing and bolting are being done in the house, incentives for water-heater strapping are eligible for program benefits. There also can be other code requirements such as the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, when a permit is obtained for residential construction. Retrofitting performed to meet other code requirements can not qualify for the EBB program.
Note: Earthquake Brace Bolt retrofit works must not start before EBB approves the submitted pre-retrofit photos and documents.

Types of Qualifying Houses

There are two main types of qualifying houses - each qualifying house must meet all the requirements that are bulleted below and also must be either Type 1 or Type 2 qualifying house. The requirements are:

  • Meet California existing building code, Chapter A3, specifications

  • Located in an earthquake brace bolt program ZIP code listed on the EBB website

  • Built before 1980 and placed on a low slope or level ground

  • Detached residential building composed of up to four dwelling units with a raised-perimeter foundation

  • No Chapter A3 brace+bolt retrofit has been done or started before the date of acceptance into the EBB program

  • The house has not been sit on the National Register of Historic places maintained by the US Department of the interior.

Type 1 Qualifying House

The Type 1 qualifying house has a cripple wall defined as a wood-frame stud wall extending from the top of the foundation to the underside of the lowest floor framing, which does not exceed four feet in height of the crawl space. Type 1 qualifying house must not have a lateral-force-resisting system that uses poles or columns embedded in the ground, must be classified by the local building department as a house required to be retrofitted with plans prepared by a registered design professional, such as an engineer and architect. It also must exceed three stories in height or be a three-story house with cripple-wall studs exceeding 14 inches height.

Type 2 Qualifying House

The Type 2 qualifying house requires the qualifying houses to be retrofitted according to plans prepared by a registered design professional as well, who have to sign the plans and certify in writing that the plans conform to chapter A3. Type 2 characteristics are the following:

  • A cripple wall which exceeds 4 feet in height and not taller over 7 feet

  • A lateral-force-resisting system which uses columns embedded in the ground or poles

  • Exceeds three stories in height

  • Is a three-story house with cripple wall studs with 14 inches in height

  • Classified by the local building departments as houses that needed to be retrofitted with plans prepared by a registered design professional.

EBB program, Registration

EBB Registration

Within the 30-day EBB registration period that is stated on the EBB website for the ZIP Code where the house is located, the homeowner must request and submit a completed paper EBB Program application or complete their EBB Program registration on the EBB website.

In case of a Qualifying House and if the homeowner is an Eligible Applicant, the homeowner has to be permitted to complete registration, then add contact information and authorize the Earthquake Brace Bolt to send text alerts when needed email communications are sent.

In case the house is not a Qualifying House or the homeowner is not an Eligible Applicant, they may sign up for the future EBB program for information and updates but is not eligible to receive an EBB incentive grant.

Before The Process Of Retrofitting

After receiving the Program acceptance email within the 90 days, all participating homeowners must do all of the following, using their online dashboard:

Designate whether the retrofit project will be performed by a licensed contractor or by the participating homeowner as an owner-builder. In case a licensed contractor should be hired, the contractor must be an EBB Participating Contractor listed on the EBB Contractor Directory.

With the Homeowner Dashboard, upload a building permit that is issued after the date of acceptance into the EBB. The building permit must simply be for the earthquake retrofit work and may not involve other work on the premise, such as remodeling.

After Retrofitting Works

The seismic retrofitting works must be completed within 9 months after the date of acceptance into the EBB program. The following items must be submitted to EBB using the online homeowner dashboard.

  • Signed Building Permit

  • Photos

  • A completed and signed Payment Authorization Form. 

  • A final invoice(s) and receipt(s) for retrofit-related expenses must be submitted by a Participating Contractor.

  • If the Participating Homeowner performed the work as an owner-builder, the homeowner must submit legitimate and legible receipts to verify out-of-pocket “House Retrofit Expenses,” which can include the cost of materials and rented equipment that is used for the retrofit project.

In case a Participating Contractor is not in good standing with the Contractors State License Board or appears on the state or federal debarment list, Incentive payments will not be provided.