How Much Will It Cost to Repair My House After Earthquake Damage?
$1,000 - $30,000
$1,000 - $30,000
Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.
Updated March 30, 2022Reviewed by Ezra Laniado, Expert Contributor.
The average cost for repairing earthquake damage runs between $4,000 to $30,000. Prices can be as low as $1,000 for minor damage like repairing a utility line or as high as $30,000 for structural issues. Expert Review Board member Ezra Laniado of Landmark Construction and Development Group, Inc. notes that some older homes may face total destruction due to earthquake damage, but seismic retrofitting the foundation could potentially save the homeowner thousands of dollars.
Earthquakes can wreak havoc on homes, such as a damaged roof, utility line, or foundation—particularly since most homes built before 1980 haven’t been retrofitted. No matter the extent of the damage, we’ll help you figure out the cost to repair your home after an earthquake.
Even if you don’t see visible damage, consult a professional inspector before making any repairs. You’ll spend around $300 to hire a local home inspector, but the price will vary depending on the size of the house.
If there is enough damage for a claim, your insurance company may require a professional inspection report on the property. Check with your insurance company to see whether they work with certain inspectors or leave it up to you to hire someone.
To lift the house, expect to pay $3,000 to $9,300, including $16 per hour for labor and $22 per hour for heavier equipment. Land excavation costs an average of $1,450 to $5,000. The cost varies from one house to another and depends on the extent of the damage.
Strong earthquakes can weaken the ground, cause the building to sink at various points of the soil, or—worst case—collapse the foundation. The earthquake can affect the integrity of the structure, which can become more dangerous if left unattended. In this case, you need to lift the house, level it, and strengthen the ground to be suitable for the weight of the foundation.
If foundation collapse was the culprit for other damage around the house, leveling the house may correct damaged areas, such as cracks on the walls, ceilings and floors, and jammed doors and windows. Be ready to do some cosmetic repairs afterward, if needed. It's essential to address leveling as soon as possible to prevent problems from becoming worse.
If the utility company doesn’t fix the damage, electricians charge $50 to $100 per hour to repair power damage, whereas repairing the gas line within the property costs $150 to $600.
Plumbers charge $45 to $200 per hour. To repair the waterline, expect to pay $330 to $1,400, while repairing the sewer line costs anywhere between $1,200 to $4,400. A minor break in a utility line can likely be repaired without much excavation. However, replacing the entire length of a utility line means extra equipment and labor, increasing the cost to $3,000 to $25,000, depending on the utility type.
Utility lines inside your property can break during an earthquake as the ground underneath shifts. A broken utility line can also cause hazards that can lead to additional expensive repairs. In fact, broken gas lines cause 25% of the fires that occur after earthquakes. If there is damage to power, water, or gas lines, notify your utility providers since they may fix it. Be sure to shut off the utilities from the main shutoff valve in the event of an earthquake.
Re-leveling fixes the soil underneath the home, whereas foundation repair tackles the foundation itself. Depending on the damage, repairs to a shifted foundation can range from partial structural repair to complete rebuilding, which is why you’ll need to hire a nearby residential structural engineer. Hiring one will cost $200 to $350 per hour.
Repairing a foundation costs anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000. Repairing piers will cost $1,000 to $3,000 each, whereas repairing a pier-and-post foundation will cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000.
An earthquake can damage siding, chimneys, brick, walls, and more.
Chimney repair: It can cost $160–$750, but reach as high as $1,800.
Siding: It can cost $340–$1,280 to repair.
Walls: Repairing a concrete or stone wall may cost anywhere between $360–$1,200, whereas a brick wall repair can run between $750–$2,400.
Following an earthquake, there might be some interior repairs you need to address.
Repairing flooring runs between $200 to $550. However, pros may need to go through subfloors and joists. Expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to repair joists.
Repairing a staircase costs anywhere from $310 to $1,050 on average, depending on the damage and the time it will take. To replace the handrail, expect to pay an additional $30 to $45 per linear foot.
Doors and windows tend to get stuck, while frames or glass may crack or get damaged from the quake. Repairing a door usually costs $250, whereas a window repair job costs $350 on average.
Cracks are generally common in interior walls and ceilings after an earthquake, especially if there’s structural damage. To repair a plaster wall, expect to pay $100 to $3,000, while repairing drywall will cost $250 to $800. As for ceiling repairs, it will cost $300 to $1,200 on average.
The average cost to earthquake-retrofit your home runs between $4,000 to $7,000. The exact cost will depend on the retrofitting technique, materials, and overall structure size that needs retrofitting.
If your home was built before 1980, chances are it was never retrofitted. Earthquake retrofitting, also known as seismic retrofitting, is a great way to reinforce and strengthen your home to withstand an earthquake. Retrofitting involves bolting your home to its foundation or replacing an existing frame with steel to prevent it from shifting during an earthquake.
Retrofitting can be costly, but it will protect you against expensive repairs after earthquakes and provide you peace of mind. In some cases, your insurance company might require you to retrofit to obtain earthquake insurance.
The average cost of earthquake insurance is around $800 per year. Homeowners without earthquake insurance often spend more than $30,000 in repairs following an earthquake.
Here are three ways to tell whether your house is retrofitted:
Look under your house. If you see foundation plates connecting to wood or bolts sticking through the sill plate (a horizontal wooden member of a wall that’s attached to the foundation and other vertical members), then your home is retrofitted and secured.
Hire an inspector near you to tell if your house needs retrofitting.
Some building department websites provide a tool to search for your address to confirm whether your house was retrofitted.
It depends on many factors, including the construction, size, age, and whether the house has been retrofitted. Newer homes are likely to suffer less damage than their older, non-retrofitted counterparts.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee your home will endure earthquake damage, no matter what precautions you take. However, there are things you can do to help minimize problems:
Retrofit your home if it isn’t already.
Secure expensive and heavy items with straps, latches, or braces.
Attach your appliances with flexible connections so they won’t fall over and break or cause hazards.
Examine the outdoor area of your home for potential hazards, such as power lines that may fall on the house and cause electrocution or a potential fire.
Purchase earthquake insurance.
Ensure your home has a seismic shutoff valve on the main gas line.
Standard home insurance policies provide coverage for natural disasters such as fires and hurricanes. But they most often don’t include coverage for flooding or earthquakes.
If you live in an area where earthquakes are common, you can buy additional earthquake insurance if a natural disaster happens.
In many cases, earthquake insurance may cover many expenses following an earthquake, such as property damage from the ground shifting. But it doesn't cover everything. Talk to your insurance agent and familiarize yourself with your policy to know what's covered and what isn't.
While quakes can cause extensive damage that can be costly to fix, earthquake coverage will depend on how the damage happened. For example, the insurance company usually covers a fire after an earthquake.
Check with your local authorities for help, as you may be eligible for disaster assistance covered under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).