With its propensity for shaking, the San Francisco area presents special challenges for the foundation of a house. What are your legal obligations to make your home safer? What is simply the smart thing to do?
If your house was built before 1960 and you are putting it on the market, state law mandates that you complete an earthquake hazards disclosure report and provide this document to the buyer. The report must detail any seismic weaknesses in the structure of your home. As part of your investigations, you will have to examine your home's foundation for potential weaknesses, though you are not required to undertake any seismic retrofitting work to remedy the problems. Your REALTOR® can guide you through this disclosure process.
The law aside, for your own safety you should make sure that your foundation is currently earthquake strengthened. Certain types of older foundations and structures are likely to become unstable during a quake:
- Pier-and-post foundations;
- Old concrete foundations;
- Cripple walls;
- Unreinforced masonry foundations;
- Unanchored foundations;
- Houses built on tall walls or posts; and
- Houses with no foundations at all.
Your foundation should remain intact and connected to the walls of your home during a quake. If not, your house could slide off the foundation or, if the foundation itself is not solid or is missing altogether, the whole building could collapse.