The two earthquakes over the July 4th weekend put Ridgecrest in the world news spotlight, and left residents on edge and in wonderment of what might be next. After the shattered glass and broken mirrors were swept up questions began to emerge: Is my house ok? How will the 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude shakers effect the local housing market? Are buyers bolting and taking off to more stable ground? Will prices tank and sellers be stuck with “white elephant” homes?
According to the Richter Scale well-designed structures are likely to receive severe damage in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Some buildings may partially or completely collapse. The local theatre and a number of commercial buildings took some big hits mainly due to older building standards, and wider overhead support beams that offer less stability. Richmond Elementary School and many buildings at NAWS that are still being assessed and repaired are examples of this.
Despite the unfortunate disturbance the quakes have caused, it is amazing how well stick-built homes withstood the highly forceful tremors and aftershocks. For the most part, damage to slab foundation homes in Ridgecrest have been reported as moderate. Newer wood framed homes are designed to sway and flex in earthquakes. It is comforting to know there was minimal damage to the wood framed stucco-built homes in the area. “New homes built recently,” comments Chuck Roulund of IWV Construction, “are designed to withstand the earthquakes we recently had.”
Russ Mathewson, a certified home inspector and general contractor has performed numerous home checks since July 4th. He reports that concrete slab foundation homes are bolted down and stood up very well. “However,” Russ adds, “there are problems with unreinforced brick chimneys. Some have cracked and others have toppled. Ceiling fans not properly attached have fallen from ceilings. Water heater braces have been ripped from the drywall where they were not correctly screwed into a stud.” One of the biggest issues has been with water heater water feed lines that sprung leaks when jolted by the sudden turbulence. This has also caused water damage to drywall when not detected early enough.
As far as a shutdown of market activity, realtors are reporting that buyers are still out shopping and submitting offers. Homes are still being listed. Local title companies and lenders state they have yet to experience any slowdown and business is still strong. And there are no direct cancellations yet, although damaged amenities such as pools and block walls will possibly cause delays. Escrow openings are a little slower than last July, but the numbers are still moving forward.
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