Does your home need an earthquake retrofit? Here’s how to check

It was on this day 17 years ago that the Nisqually earthquake rocked our region.

Since then, some homeowners have spent thousands of dollars to retrofit their homes and protect their property from a major earthquake.

If your home was built before 1980, it is likely not secured to the foundation. Q13 News’ John Hopperstad asked Leif Jackson with Sound Seismic about what specialized crews are doing to make homes safer.

"We're in the basement of an older house with a crip wall -- thats the weakest part of house," said Jackson. "Over here can see what looks like no reinforcement. Before 1965 they didn't anchor houses, so no bolts at all. The framing is just sitting on foundation, so we go in and add anchor bolts to keep things from sliding. And we're going to put plywood shear panels on the wall to keep the wall from collapsing, and then we're also adding framing hardware to keep the floor joints connected.. Those are the three biggest weaknesses in a typical seattle home.

So what does a retrofitted home look like?

"Our anchor bolts -- we've got them almost all installed, our sheer panels are in place, and then we've also got a solid connection between the floor joist and the top of the wall," said Jackson. "So A, B, C: anchor, brace and connect."

So is an earthquake retrofit right for you? It likely is if your home was built before 1980.

There are several companies that do the work and the average cost is $5,000 - $12, 000. It could be a bit higher if you have a finished basement.

Seattle and most communities in the Northwest require a plan and permit to do the retrofit.

If you're considering earthquake insurance on your home and it was built before 1980, most companies will require a retrofit on your house.

The City of Seattle also provides a free class for homeowners that provides information about how to evaluate your home for a retrofit or information on what to look for when hiring a professional contractor.

NEXT: Check out an earthquake preparedness checklist