GET READY KERN | Can your house withstand an earthquake? A few ways to find out

Examples of foundations without retrofitting. (Photo provided by Raymond Beasley)

As California residents, we're all aware of the fault lines surrounding us.

We know the risk for earthquakes and do our best to be prepared.

But are our houses prepared? If the earth started shaking, would they remain standing?

The answer varies on a case-to-case basis, because every home is unique.

MORE | Special 'Get Ready Kern' section

When, where, how and of what a home is built from are all factors that will play into its ability to withstand a major earthquake.

According to Raymond Beasley, owner of Beasley Home Inspection, a good start to determining if your home is earthquake resistant is knowing the year it was built.

"I would say the majority of homes built after 1958, you're going to find a good amount of anchoring and bolting," Beasley said.

The year 1958 isn't necessarily a hard and fast rule, but it is a very important year in the world of home building, because it's when building on a concrete slab became the industry standard.

Before contractors built on concrete slabs, home foundations were made out of brick, cobblestone and even wood. These materials can hold up a house but can not withstand the shaking of a strong earthquake.

Many homes built in this way are still around in Kern County.

"You'd be surprised at the homes out there that have no perimeter foundation, or are not anchored or bolted. I just went into one the other day," said Beasley. "I was afraid to crawl underneath it. I couldn't get out fast enough, thinking the house was going to fall down."

While the foundations of these homes can't be magically transformed into concrete, they can be retrofitted to withstand shaking. New beams and bolts and other "braces" can be installed to reinforce the foundation and anchor the home to it.

There is only one way to find out if your foundation already has these features: crawl under the house and look at the foundation. This can be extremely dangerous and really should only be done by professionals.

Professional inspections typically cost anywhere from $300 up to about $650. It may seem like a hefty price tag, but it can be worth it to know if your home is already safe.

Retrofitting the foundation can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000, which is a lot to spend, especially if it is unnecessary.

If you find out your home isn't retrofitted, the thousands of dollars may actually be a good investment if you own your home.

According to Beasley, many banks will not issue loans to purchase homes without retrofitting. So if you ever want to sell your house, paying for retrofitting will likely need to make that possible.

Ever since the introduction of the concrete slab in 1958, building techniques, technologies and codes have improved considerably on a near annual basis.

This means the newer your home is, the more prepared it is to hold up to an earthquake.

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