Berkeley Seismic Retrofit Program
Simplengi Engineering has completed hundreds of seismic retrofits over the years. In particular, we’ve had a lot of experience designing retrofits for single-family homes. Our retrofits have ranged from the simple bracing and bolting of the foundation to more complex solutions for livings spaces over soft stories. Being in Berkeley, we’ve also had a lot of specific experience in helping homeowners get their Berkeley transfer tax refund.
The City of Berkeley has instituted a particularly rewarding seismic program. The City of Berkeley will now refund a sizable portion of the city transfer tax from your property’s purchase as an incentive for you to do seismic work:
Applicants may claim up to 1/3 of the base 1.5% transfer tax rate on a dollar-for-dollar basis for all voluntary seismic upgrades to residential property.
For a $1,500,000 sale price, that’s a $7,500 rebate waiting for you to make your home safer! While there is no such thing as an earthquake proof structure, there are significant and often very simple improvements that can be made to an existing structure to enhance its performance in an earthquake.
How long do I have to complete this seismic improvement?
Property owners have 1-year after the sale was recorded to complete the work and file for the refund. The City of Berkeley does grant extensions for an additional year on a case-by-case basis for serious illness or unforeseen circumstances.
Fill out our form: To get started, tell us a bit about your home so that someone from our team can take a look and send you a proposal for your project.
Sign up: Review our proposal, let us know if you have any q’s, and send it back signed if you’re ready to move forward. That’s all we’ll need to get your project on our production schedule. We’re usually able to complete these in about 3-4 weeks.
Develop as-built plans: The “as-built” drawings that we will use show the location of walls, foundations, and overall dimensions of the structure. It’s great if you have some that we can use (and it’ll save you some moolah). And not a big deal if you don’t since we can provide them as part of our services.
Submit plans to the city: You or your contractor will submit the retrofit plans that we prepare directly to the City of Berkeley to obtain the permit: Online permit application here
Respond to Plan check comments: If the city responds with any structural plan check comments asking for more information on the project, we will respond to those as part of our scope.
Pick up your permit, and start work: Once all the paperwork is thru, you/your contractor can pick up your permit. If you need help finding a contractor, let us know. We’ve worked with a handful that are specializing with these retrofit projects.
Have inspections completed: The city will want to inspect the work and they will also want us to inspect the work (required by code). Once we perform our inspection, we can write a final letter that you or your contractor can provide to the city to close out the job.
Submit retrofit form: Once all the work is complete, fill out the Seismic Retrofit Verification and Refund Application and turn it in to the City Finance Department.
Cash your check: Once you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, you should receive the refund check from the city within three weeks.
Breath Deeply, you’ve completed one of your many home-ownership tasks!