Structural Risks of Hillside Houses

Houses on steep hillsides are often set on tall, narrow posts or columns, with or without diagonal bracing, and may have walls that “step down” the hill. These structural elements may not be properly braced to withstand earthquakes, leading to significant damage and even collapse during an earthquake.

Hillside houses require 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%.

We offer a program to help eligible homeowners pay for their retrofits. Owners of hillside houses may be eligible for this program if their house qualifies under California Existing Building Code Chapter A3:

The Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) 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