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Japan quake spurs retrofitting concerns in LA

March 16, 2011 9:56:43 PM PDT
More fallout from the disaster in Japan: The massive quake has Southland residents thinking about how strong their homes and businesses are and whether they should be retrofitted.

Some contractors said their phones have been ringing off the hook over the past couple of days with homeowners asking about their services. So if you're thinking about this, there are two things you need to do in order to find someone who is reputable.

Retrofitting contractors are busy. One crew working on bolting a Highland Park home to its foundation will take a couple of days to finish this job and move onto the next one.

Jonathan Weinstein's family has been in this business for nearly 35 years. He says shortly after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, his business picked up considerably.

"This home right here is a very, very nice home, but unfortunately it was unbolted. That means it's susceptible to earthquake damage," said Weinstein.

Retrofitting, or bolting your home to its foundation, is like securing a safety belt around your house.

"I think the message reaches home, as soon as you see it on the news and it's out there. Then the first thing that comes to mind is, 'Am I doing everything that I can to protect my family?'" said Yanky Benjamin, a contractor.

After the Northridge earthquake, Weinstein says, many Southern Californians bolted their homes. Along Van Nuys Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley, commercial buildings were retrofitted for earthquakes.

Clothing store owner Mike Adri says he hopes he never has to find out how well the beams and bolts will hold up.

"I feel better when I watch it, but I don't know how bad it will be. I hope I never have to find out," said Adri.

The two things you need to do to find out if the contractor you're going to deal with is reputable are:

  • Make sure that company has its contractor license
  • Call the Better Business Bureau and find out what kind of a rating that organization has for the company you want to deal with

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