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Structural Risks of Living Space Over a Garage

This house has one or more floors of living space over an attached garage. Its vulnerability to earthquake shaking comes from its position atop the garage beneath it, which:

  • Is typically a sizable open space, functioning like a crawl space within a cripple-wall house, with walls not braced to resist earthquake motion, and
  • Has one or more large doors that are not properly retrofitted to withstand earthquake shaking.
Garage-door openings can be retrofitted by installing new plywood sheathing or steel panels on each side of the garage door. Some garage doors require a steel frame to be properly retrofitted for earthquakes.

Adequately preparing a living space over a garage requires an engineered retrofit. The homeowner should hire a licensed structural or civil engineer to advise on the retrofit efforts.

Strengthen Your House

CEA encourages owners of older (pre-1980) houses—in other words, houses that are more vulnerable to earthquakes—to retrofit their houses to strengthen them against earthquake damage. Homeowners with properly retrofitted eligible houses can receive a premium discount of up to 25%.

The Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program offers grants of up to $3,000 to homeowners in certain higher-earthquake risk ZIP Codes for houses that qualify.

Learn more about brace + bolt grants from CEA

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