Owners of multi-family homes of 3+ units, non-residential buildings, hotels/motels, and mixed use buildings can receive grants from the City of Berkeley to help fund seismic upgrades.
The Retrofit Grants Program reimburses property owners of eligible building types a portion of their design and/or construction costs. Retrofit grants from the City of Berkeley are available to multi-family homes of 3+ units, non-residential buildings, hotels/motels, and mixed-use buildings. Single-family homes and duplexes are not eligible. You can be reimbursed up to 75% of your design costs, capped at $5,000 or $10,000 depending on building type, and up to 40% of your construction costs, capped at $150,000.
Funding is available for concrete reinforced masonry fact sheet (including tilt-up and other rigid wall-flexible diaphragm buildings), unreinforced masonry buildings, soft-story buildings, and wood-framed buildings with seismic deficiencies that do not exhibit a soft story condition.
The table below shows maximum Design Grant and Construction Grant amounts for each eligible building type:
|Building Type||Design Grant Maximum Size||Construction Grant Maximum Size|
||$10,000 (cap at 75% of Design Costs)||$25,000 to $150,000 (Cap at 40% of Construction Costs)|
||$5,000 (cap at 75% of Design Costs)||$25,000 to $150,000 (Cap at 40% of Construction Costs)|
|Soft Story 3-4 residential units||$5,000 (cap at 75% of Design Costs)||$15,000 to $40,000 (Cap at 40% of Construction Costs|
|Other Wood-Framed Buildings
5+ residential units
|$10,000 (cap at 75% of Design Costs)||$25,000 to $150,000 (Cap at 40% of Construction Costs)|
|Other Wood-Framed Buildings
3-4 residential units
|$5,000 (cap at 75% of Design Costs)||
$15,000 to $60,000 (Cap at 40% of Construction Costs)
*The maximum Construction Grant size for any project cannot exceed 75% of the permit valuation or actual retrofit costs, whichever is lower. Grant maximums for each building type vary according to demand, occupancy, and square footage. If a seismic code enforcement case is open for the building, grants will be capped at $25,000.
Submit an application form and photographs of your building to apply
- Confirm your building is one of the building types eligible for a grant.
- Read and follow the requirements in the 2022 Program Rules.
- Complete and submit an Application Form for review. To be eligible for grant funding, applicants must complete their retrofit and receive an approved Final Inspection by November 15, 2023.
- Provide a minimum of three photographs of the building for FEMA's historic preservation review process, following the FEMA Photography Instructions. Upload photos electronically.
Once applications are received, staff will review them for eligibility. If more applications are received than can be funded, the City will place some applicants on a waiting list.
Once approved, sign a Retrofit Grant Conditions of Approval
- Upon approval of your grant application, all applicants will be asked to submit a signed copy of the Retrofit Grant Conditions of Approval form.
- Design grant applicants are required to submit a signed Engineer/Architect Provision before submitting a building permit application.
- Construction grant applicants are required to submit a signed Contractor Provision prior to permit issuance.
Meet all deadlines to remain eligible for funding
Applicants must meet all program deadlines to remain eligible for grant funding. If you do not meet the deadline to apply for a building permit, and have not been approved for a time extension, the City may revoke funding for your project and provide it to a project on the waitlist instead.
- In December 2022, the City of Berkeley’s grant funding was extended one year. Late applications are now being accepted on a case-by-case basis, if applicants can complete their eligible scope of work by November 15, 2023.
- Immediately after a grant is awarded, secure multiple bids from engineers and contractors, following requirements in the program rules.
- Apply for a Building Permit and respond to any City-issued correction lists
- Obtain a Building Permit. Notify program staff of any changes to the City and FEMA approved scope of work. Eligible applicants can request reimbursement for a design grant once their permit is ready for issuance.
- No later than November 15, 2023 complete construction and receive approved final inspection. Eligible applicants can request reimbursement for construction grants after obtaining an approved final inspection.
- Submit Reimbursement Requests no later than November 29, 2023.
Share technical guidelines with your design professional
These technical guidelines describe the retrofit design requirements for each building type. Please share these with your architect or engineer:
- Voluntary Soft Story Retrofit Guidelines: 3-4 residential units, non-residential, hotels/motels, mixed-use with fewer than 5 residential units
- Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Guidelines: 5+ residential units
- Tilt-up and Other Rigid Wall-Flexible Diaphragm Retrofit Guidelines
- Non-Ductile Concrete Retrofit Guidelines
- Inadequate Anchorage and Cripple Guidelines
- Multi-Family Weak Story Guidelines
- One-Story Open-Front Building Guidelines
- Unique Wood Building Guidelines
- Non-Structural Building Guidelines
Projects that will result in substantial exterior alterations, or that will result in visible impacts to the exterior façade or other character-defining element of a potentially historic building, are subject to detailed review by FEMA and permit issuance may be delayed. If you anticipate exterior alterations will be included in your project's scope of work, please include elevation drawings clearly showing any exterior changes when submitting a building permit application, in addition to the structural drawings.
Grants will be paid as reimbursements for design fees paid to licensed design professionals and construction costs paid to licensed contractors for seismic retrofits. FEMA mitigation payments that benefit property owners through the mitigation of their structures are not subject to Federal income taxation. See page 87, section D7 of FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance.
To receive grant funds, a Reimbursement Request must be submitted with copies of invoices and cancelled checks proving payment to design professionals and contractors. Design costs will be reimbursed after the building permit is obtained or the permit has a status of ready for issuance. Construction costs will be reimbursed after the final inspection of the completed retrofit project has been approved.
These costs are eligible for grant reimbursements:
- Design costs paid to California licensed engineers or architects
- Construction costs paid to California licensed contractors (including materials and labor)
- Costs of special inspections and structural observation fees
These costs are not eligible for grant reimbursement:
- Permit fees
- Design or construction costs unrelated to the seismic retrofit (such as remodeling an apartment)
- Amounts paid in cash or to unlicensed entities
Design Grants are available for engineering and architecture fees for seismic retrofit design costs incurred after May 27, 2020. Design fees incurred prior to this date are not eligible for grant funding. Design Grants are not available for projects that have already begun construction. Design Grants will be limited to 75% of actual seismic retrofit design expenditures and capped at either $5,000 or $10,000 depending on building type. All Reimbursement Requests must be submitted no later than November 29, 2023.
How to Receive your Design Grant Reimbursement:
Follow the instructions for seeking multiple proposals from design professionals and provide the required documentation to the City. You can use the Documentation of Engineer Proposals form to document your selection of a design professional.
- Visit https://search.dca.ca.gov/ to confirm design professional's license is current.
- Submit a signed copy of the Retrofit Grant Conditions of Approval owner agreement and Engineer Provision.
- Obtain a Building Permit or a permit with a status of "ready for issuance".
- Submit a Reimbursement Request with copies of invoices for the full cost of the seismic retrofit design and copies of cancelled checks proving payment to design professionals.
Construction Grant recipients must submit for reimbursement by November 29, 2023 to be guaranteed Construction Grant funding.
How to Receive your Construction Grant Reimbursement:
- Follow the instructions for seeking multiple bids from contractors, and provide the required documentation to the City. You can use the Documentation of Contractor Bids form to document your selection of a contractor.
- Visit www.cslb.ca.gov to confirm your contractor’s license is current.
- Submit a signed copy of the Retrofit Grant Conditions of Approval (if not previously submitted) and Contractor Provision.
- Complete retrofit construction within nine (9) months of permit issuance, no later than November 15, 2023.
- Obtain all required City inspections, including an approved final inspection.
- Submit a Reimbursement Request with copies of invoices for the full cost of the seismic retrofit construction and copies of cancelled checks proving payment to the contractor.
- Submit an Owner Certification Upon Completion form and photographs of your completed retrofit.
The amount of a Construction Grant will be determined based on a project cost equal to or below the stated valuation on the building permit application. If construction costs exceed the stated valuation, owners may contact staff to increase the permit valuation prior to permit issuance in order to maximize their grant size. Additional permit fees will apply and you may be subject to additional requirements. Learn more about additional requirements you may have to comply with depending on the valuation of your permit.
Hiring Design and Construction Professionals
Visit Hiring Design Professionals and Contractors for guidance. The City of Berkeley makes no representation as to the qualifications of the engineers listed on referral lists.
- Soft Story: Several referral sources for engineers experienced with Soft Story retrofits are available on the Mandatory Retrofit Programs page under the heading Design Professionals.
- Concrete: A number of engineers experienced with retrofits of concrete buildings served on an Expert Engineer Advisory Team convened by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute to assist the City of Berkeley with a preliminary survey of concrete buildings.
- SEAONC Structural Engineer Referral List: Click into the Residential Referral List, then look for multi-unit residential.
- SF Earthquake Fair: See website for the most recent exhibitor listing of contractors and design professionals. You can also find lists of contractors in the 2018 Exhibitor Listing and 2017 Exhibitor Listing.
Construction Contracts Exceeding $250,000
For construction contracts exceeding $250,000, additional procurement methods and documentation may be required for Retrofit Grants Program participants. Please speak with program staff prior to selecting your contractor if you anticipate your construction contract will exceed $250,000.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SEISMIC RETROFITS
Discover more information about additional funding opportunities for seismic retrofits, including how eligible homeowners of owner-occupied, single-family homes with soft-story living space over a garage can receive grants for the Earthquake Soft-Story (ESS) retrofit.