Ready for an earthquake? Older Seattle homes undergo seismic retrofits

SEATTLE -- It is a home full of character and curb appeal.

“Oh, I just love all the old touches,” said Liz Springborn.

Liz and her husband, Andres, purchased the 1927 home in Seattle’s Magnolia Neighborhood four months ago.  The couple is still just settling in and now making a few changes.

"It is a craftsman. It has a lot of nice old details. We really like the house and we liked the neighborhood," said Andres Springborn.

Downstairs in the basement, the home is undergoing a major renovation. The couple hired a contractor to retrofit the house so it can withstand an earthquake.

"Any home built before 1980 typically was not bolted to the foundation and so the majority of our housing stock is older homes," said Erik Jackson with Sound Seismic.

Jackson’s company is completing the project, which should take a couple of days. The cost is $6,000 to $9,000 per home, according to Sound Seismic.

After the weekend earthquake in Napa Valley, Jackson said his company received countless calls from homeowners seeking inspections.

Each year, the city of Seattle issues about 90 permits for earthquake retrofit projects at homes, according to the Seattle Department of Planning and Development.

“Earthquakes, we know, are going to be our most complex disaster,” said Debbie Goetz, of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management.

The emergency management office holds several free earthquake home retrofit seminars each year. The courses show homeowners what they can do to secure their homes. Goetz said there are also tips on hiring contractors.

The next seminar is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 6, from 2-4 p.m. at the Greenwood Library.

Liz Springbron believes the cost of fixing the home is an investment, which protects the future value.

"It has some modern touches to make sure we can withstand any earthquakes that come," said Springborn.