Get a free Berkeley Seismic Retrofit through the Transfer Tax Program

Berkeley Seismic Retrofits Grant if you are a New Home Buyer.

A Berkeley Seismic Retrofit program will help you bolt and brace your house against earthquakes using their Berkeley Seismic Retrofit Transfer Tax Rebate Program. This funding program is not always easy to understand but if you follow the directions below you should be able to get your house bolted and fully retrofitted courtesy of the City of Berkeley. We can help you navigate through this program.

1) To qualify for the Berkeley Transfer Tax Seismic Retrofit Program when you buy a house, you must use either Standard Plan A or an earthquake retrofit designed by an engineer. Standard Plan A has certain limitations but most homes on flat lots can use it.

When the house is bolted according to City standards you must file a City of Berkeley retrofit verification form.

All the seismic work must be completed within one year of date of purchase or Berkeley will not give you the transfer tax money back. If for some reason you cannot do the seismic retrofit within this one time period, you can apply for an extension for up to one year by sending the Berkeley finance department a letter explaining why you could not do the seismic retrofit work in the time allowed.  This will only be accepted if you already have a permit.  There is no special form for this, just a personal letter sent to the Berkeley finance office (2180 Milvia St.  Attn: Finance Office, Berkeley, CA, 94704) (510-961-7300) telling them why you could not get your house retrofitted is all you need. Here are two sample letters depending on where you are in the process: Extension letter 1 or Extension letter 2.  Reasons such as your seismic retrofit contractor has been delayed is a valid reason. We have never seen an extension request denied. From what we have seen, any good reason will do.

2)  To procure a permit for the Berkeley Seismic Retrofit Program, get an application at the Berkeley Building Department. You will need to present this along with the application and submit a set of plans using either the Standard Plan A retrofit design or an engineered design. If approved, Standard Plan A building permits can usually be picked up in 3 days from the City of Berkeley Building Department. Engineered seismic retrofits take 3 weeks. Before the seismic retrofit work can be fully approved by the City of Berkeley, you will need to fill out an affidavit stating you have the requisite number of smoke and CO2 detectors.

3)  Berkeley allows any civil or structural engineer to design your seismic retrofit, even if they have designed only skyscrapers and have little knowledge or experience in seismic retrofit work for houses. This is why it is important to pick your earthquake engineer wisely. We know a few earthquake engineers if you need a reference. It does not matter who you use, our only caution is that you find one who understands how old houses are built.

4)  Once your house is bolted down to the foundation, they will send you your check. We will provide you with the paperwork necessary to get your transfer tax money back from the City of Berkeley.