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Frequently Asked Questions

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An earthquake is a natural shaking of the ground, caused by the sudden slipping of rock on a fault-line. A fault line is the point where tectonic plates meet. Seismic waves spread outward from the fault rupture much like ripples do in a quiet pond when a stone is thrown into it. Sometimes the plates only jump a tiny bit causing windows to rattle. Other times the displacement is so violent that it sends seismic waves booming out in all directions with forces similar many many atomic bombs. The result is called an earthquake.

Simply stated. it's a process that ties a home together. It increase the resistance to earthquake damage and decreases the risk of injury. In short, it significantly strengthens the house.

Easy. Our trained inspectors will crawl under your home with a camera and a detailed check list.  Crawl along with us if you like.You'll receive a detailed report on the condition of your foundation and any water damage that has occurred which may jeopardize the safety of your home and your family.

How will I know if I need retrofitting?

 What to look for ...
To check your home's earthquake fitness, all you need is a flashlight and a willingness to get a little bit dirty.

The place to start is in the crawl space underneath your home.



Is your house properly bolted down to its foundation?

The wood that rests directly on the foundation is called the mud sill. Until the 1940s, home builders often did not bolt the mud sill to the foundation. This creates a serious structural weakness that can allow your home to slide off its foundation during an earthquake.

The mud sill should be bolted at four to six feet intervals and within one foot of every joint, but no closer than nine inches to the end of the board.

 Do you need plywood on your cripple wall?

Check to see if you have a cripple wall and if it is braced with plywood. If the cripple wall is covered on the exterior with only stucco or wood siding, and the beams are exposed on the inside, it is not strong enough to resist earthquakes.

You will need to add plywood. Sheets of plywood nailed to the cripple walls help to prevent damage from shaking in this weak area of your house. Crossbracing within the framing is not enough.

Check for faulty materials in the concrete & wood framing
. The foundation is a common area of structural weakness. When concrete foundations are porous or crumbly, they will not provide adequate strength to resist earthquakes.

Unreinforced brick or stone masonry may need to be replaced or strengthened. An engineer or architect is required to design these types of repairs.

Check to see if there is insect damage or dry rot in the wood. Faulty materials such as rotten wood and porous concrete should be replaced. Risky conditions in concrete include cracks wider than 1/8 inch, large voids, or 'honeycomb" concrete. If the concrete chips or flakes when you poke it with a screwdriver, it may be unsafe.

NOTE: lf you suspect faulty material, you may need the assistance of a licensed engineer or architect to design a solution.

Strengthened homes are safer to live in and easier to sell and insure. The Northridge earthquake showed us that strengthened homes stayed on their foundation in the same neighborhoods where unstrengthened homes did not.Some insurance will no longer insure a home unless this work is done. Sellers of a homes must also disclose to buyers if their home is unbolted.

• Safety - A home that has not been properly retrofitted is more likely to sustain, expensive at best, and at worst, dangerous damage due to earthquakes.

You and your family can sleep better at night here in Southern California knowing you are safely bolted and reinforced in place!


• Insurance - An older house, when properly retrofitted, has a much smaller risk of being damaged, and thus is at the lowest possible Insurance Premium.
Otherwise, a policy would have to cover earthquake damages and would be unappealing to an insurance company, resulting in a raised premium.


• Property Value - Durability is not something consumers only look for in a product, they also look for it in their home.

A home that has been properly retrofitted has these attractive attributes that raise the appeal of the home to potential buyers.

The cost of the work varies. Some homes have cripple walls that need a lot of blocking while other homes do not have cripple walls. Some home have plenty of access to the work area while other homes have limited access because of heating ducts or small access holes. The cost of work will increase significantly if you need to replace an unenforced masonry foundation or have a lot of termite or fungus damages to the wood. You will get an idea of the fair value of the work to be done by getting different bids from different contractors.

Most single family homes on level or near level lots can expect to pay from $2000 to $4000 for the total job. This price assumes a contractor did the work according to the department's standard plan and there were no special conditions. Home owners who do the work themselves can help reduce this cost. There will be additional costs if you need to hire an architect or engineer.

Unlike hurricanes or some other natural disasters, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning, therefor the only thing you can do is take preventative measures and be prepared in advance, before a deadly earthquake strikes in your area.

There are things that you can do to reduce the chances that you or other members of your household will be injured or that your property will be damaged.

The number one and first preventative measure quoted from FEMA ( Federal Emergency Management Agency) is:

"Prepare Your Home - Make your home safer to be in during earthquakes and more resistant to earthquake damage by assessing its structure and contents. Depending on when and how it was designed and built, the structure you live in may have weaknesses that make it more vulnerable to earthquakes. Common examples include structures not anchored to their foundations or having weak crawl space walls, unbraced pier-and-post foundations, or unreinforced masonry walls or foundations.

If you own your home, find and correct any such weaknesses with professional help. If you are a renter, ask what has been done to strengthen the property against earthquakes, and consider this information in deciding where to rent. If you are building or buying a home, make sure that it complies with the seismic provisions of your local building code."

Contact California Foundation Works for a Free Estimate & Inspection today!

The Northridge Earthquake in January 1994 approximately rearranged almost 2000 square miles of Los Angeles, leaving portions of it almost two feet higher than before.  The 6.7 magnitude quake also forced scientists to revise their estimates of the seismic hazard facing the densely inhabited suburbs of metropolitan Los Angeles. In the most comprehensive assessment of the Northridge earthquake so far, the scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center say that people in the Los Angeles area should expect at least one earthquake every year of magnitude 5.0 or more for the foreseeable future.

Scientists say that with almost 100 faults in the Los Angeles area known to be capable of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake, emergency planners must recognize that urban earthquakes can no longer be considered rare events.

Today we understand that present building codes consider the type of shaking we perceived in this earthquake to be extreme. We now know this is not extreme and over the long run, contractors should expect that homes and buildings might be subjected to severe ground shaking several times over the coarse of the buildings life.


The 6.7 magnitude earthquake left 61 dead and caused at least $20 billion in damage.

The full extent of the urban corridor from San Bernardino through Los Angeles and northwest to Santa Barbara is at risk.

Residents should expect at least one earthquake of magnitude 5.0 or greater every year, and they should strengthen buildings to withstand the repeated shocks, according to the most comprehensive reports so far.
This is an incredibly complex web of faults underlying all of Los Angeles. The Northridge Quake left more than 3,000 buildings unsafe, and scientists blamed much of the damage on faulty construction and inadequate building inspections.
One study suggested that simple measures such as securing computers, lights, pipes and bookcases could save millions. Although we now understand that the emphasis on protecting against loss of life says nothing about the cost of repair to restore the buildings to usability.

Under the present codes, the buildings may not collapse but may never be usable again. It may be advisable to strengthen the codes to prevent much more of the damage that can occur in strong earthquakes.

Contact California Foundation Works for a Free Estimate & Inspection today!

We pride ourselves that we provide the highest quality workmanship at the best price in Los Angeles, CA! While we can’t give a blanket answer to the question, we are happy to provide a free inspection and repair estimate – call us today!

You might have seen the warning signs, cracks in the walls, cracks in the brick walls, doors miss-aligned and sticking. This could all be signs that your foundation is in trouble. Call California Foundation Works and our experts will come out and give you a thorough estimate free, with no obligation. We’ll give you a detailed quote if work needs to be done.

Yes. We advise every home and property owner to conduct a foundation inspection every year to make sure your home is safe. To schedule and inspection please click here.

It is sometimes complicated to provide a typical cost for foundation repair simply because there are plenty of factors. Costs have been known as low as $250 and as high as $30,000. Your cost will depend on on your particular situation. Factors that impact cost include how accessible the sunken portion of the foundation is, the cause of foundation failure and the method of repair.

Approximate Foundation Repair Cost Breakdown:

• $300-$1,500 to hire a structural engineer
• $500-$3,000 for soil reports from a geotechnical engineer
• $75-$1000 for a building permit
• $3,000-$4,500 for seismic work (if you live in an earthquake area)
• $1,000-$2,500 for hidden obstacles (tree roots, old repairs, deep footings)

If the cost of foundation repair seems high at first, keep in mind that your home is a big investment. In the end, the cost will be worth it because your property will be safe and marketable.

We can help you with obtaining a soil report if needed. Not every project  requires a soil report. Based on your circumstances and the type of the soil, each city will require something else. We work with great and experienced soil and structural engineers to conduct all the tests and requirements to submit to your city building and safety department for obtaining the necessary building permits.

Please read more about foundation underpinning pads retrofit here

Foundation and Site Inspections are FREE for homeowners and property owners that are not in the process of selling or buying. The Inspection Fee for properties in this case is:

• $150 per inspection (house + garage = 1)
• $150 for a formal estimate

Inspection Fees will be credited to clients who contract California Foundation Works, Inc. to perform the required work, if any.

Definitely. All dirt that is excavated from your property is placed on your driveway and hauled away that day or the next day and your driveway is thoroughly cleaned. We like to leave your property with no trace of us being there.

Issue permits from your local building department may change based on each city requirements. Repairs will take 3 to 10 days to complete, we clean up after and replace any plants that might have been removed.

If you experience differential foundation movement, you may see brick and drywall cracking, separations at corners, doors or windows, door misfits and sloping floors, to name a few signs. Call a Foundation specialist.  Continual movement over the years will result in progressively greater damage to the foundation and superstructure, lowering your property values.  The only way to really know for sure is to have a qualified foundation Professional inspect your structure.

The Foundation Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers has published guidelines for evaluating cracks in slab-on-ground foundations based on the width of the crack. Their recommendation is that if a crack is 1/16th inch wide, it should probably be looked at by an engineer. They also state that cracks that are 1/8th inch or less do not typically indicate that the foundation is not capable of performing as intended.

Cracks due to foundation bending can lead to significantly more flexibility in the slab. This means that the foundation will not do as good a job as it was intended to do to mitigate the amount of damage the soil distortion causes the house. If the flexibility caused by foundation cracking results in structural damage to the house framework so that the frame structure can no longer transform normally imposed loads safely, then the foundation crack is a serious problem. Also, if a crack raises the flexibility of the house so that doors necessary for an emergency exit cannot be opened and closed by a small child, that too is a serious concern that must be resolved.

Yes, cracked slabs are not uncommon in our area. Usual causes for cracked slabs include:

• Improper soil compaction before the slab was poured.
• The wrong type of soil was used for the slab bed.
• Parts of old tree stumps were not completely removed.
• Underground seeps or drainage.

To fix the cracked slab, we dig down under the existing footer and pour a new concrete base from which we jack the old footer back into place. We then build solid concrete piers to support the footer in its proper place. This is one of our routine repairs, and can be done at a very reasonable price.

French Drains usually are Plastic drain pipe with holes in it to collect subsurface water & divert it from your homes foundation. There is a filter fabric that fits over the pipe to prevent soil from entering the holes & clogging the pipe rendering it un-operable. The pipe is placed in the trench with the holes facing down to prevent clogging. The pipe is laid in a trench lined with filter fabric & filled in with washed pea rock. The pipe must be pitched to a lower area where the water can drain out.

Sumps are used to pump out basements that might flood frequently.

Another application exist for us here in California. Most of the times homes are set on a practicaly level plot of land making drainage challenging. If there is no where to run drain pipe to "daylight" or to a popup emitter utilizing gravity then a sump may be used. By sinking a 20" round PVC pipe usually aout 4' deep, we are able to run our pipe into the sump then pump the water out to the street or other proper location.

A channel drain is a specific type of drain containing a channel-shaped body. It is used for the fast evacuation of surface water in certain areas around your property like the front of your garage.

Employing a solid cover or grating that is flush with the adjoining surface, this drain is commonly made of concrete in-situ and may utilize polymer- or metal-based liners or a channel former to aid in channel crafting and slope formation.

Trench drains are commonly confused with French drains, which consist of a perforated pipe that is buried in a gravel trench, and which are used to evacuate ground water.

It is possible. Some homes have wallpaper of exterior siding that my not allow the normal visual indications to be seen. However, intuition may serve you best in determining slope variances in the floor of you home.

We have been able to establish a consistent cost for an average house leveling project. for raised foundation, the average cost is approximately $3,000-$4,000. We have completed repairs for as little as $550 and as much as $40,000 on a single home. The price varies with each home and its condition.

YES! If you live in a home with raised foundation all the work will be performed around the exterior of the home and under the house. However, if interior repairs are required, like replacing the slab floor or footing, we will need to clear the working area inside the house but most of the work will be done outside to provide the foundation additional support.

Most likely not. The standard homeowners policy does not cover settling.

If your home is badly out of level, then there will be some minor stress cracks over the doors or in the corners of the celling and walls. We take special care of your house to minimize these types of stress cracks by spreading the force over many jacks and by doing the leveling work, section by section..

The main culprit in floors rotting is poor foundation drainage and as we all know from living in California the soil movements.

In most cases, your piers were not built in the center of the beams. This is a common mistake make by builders. We can correct this problem by centering the piers on the beams.

Each job is unique, but generally, the majority of leveling jobs can be completed in under a week.


Yes, the homeowner will receive a written estimate of the proposed home foundation repair work, earthquake retrofitting, floor leveling or drainage system installation.

California Foundation Works, Inc. has been in business since the early 90' and has repaired thousands home foundations in the greater Los Angles area.

Our professional foundation specialist will spend approximately 1 to 2 hours inspecting your property's foundation and will explain all the findings and recommendations with the home or property owner.

Yes, the inspector will need access to the interior of your home to inspect for signs of foundation problems and in some cases to take elevation readings for floor leveling estimates.

Depending on the complexity of the foundation problem, our professional foundation specialist will inspect your home's exterior and interior and will check the elevation levels of the interior. After the inspection, he will match the structural indications with his findings to create a complete picture of what stresses are being exerted upon your home. Finally, a floor plan and repair estimate is designed and the inspector will explain all steps and recommendations of your home foundation situation.

We offer a complete line of foundation repair solutions, floor leveling and drainage solution to keep your property foundation in top shape and make sure your home is safe in terms of seismic retrofitting and structural integrity.

We service all of the cities in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties. Because they have high concentrations of expansive clay soils. For a list of cities we service in Texas please visit our service areas page.

We have several engineers that we work with depends on the project complexity. Together with each city department of building and safety we obtain all the necessary documents to get the permitting stage rolling so that we can start and preform the repair as soon as possible.

Our office hours are between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Thursday and 9:00 am to 4:30 pm on Fridays.

Not for foundation repair projects. Sometimes we may need to bring in licensed plumbers to address specific plumbing problems, every worker involved in your foundation repair solution is a direct employee of California Foundation Works, Inc. We prefer to supervise all workers because we feel we can maintain higher levels of quality and professionalism in each foundation repair project.

Absolutely. All of our supervisors speaks English and Spanish .

Should it be necessary to relocate or move your plants, we will do our very best to save them. We will normally relocate them to another part of the property in according with the homeowner. Once the foundation work is completed, we will place the plants back in their original positions.

Yes, and we are happy to provide you with certificates of insurance upon request.

We offer a Service Agreement to every homeowner. We are proud of our hard-earned reputation. Please read some of our clients testimonial letters from our satisfied clients. Please contact the Better Business Bureau and ask about our company.

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