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Guidance for homeowners who need help assessing earthquake damage

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: December 6, 2018
  • Published December 4, 2018

Eagle River homeowner Duncan Whitney takes a picture of a level, held by structural engineer Jake Horazdovsky, that shows an out-of-plumb wall in Whitney's home on Tuesday. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Property owners around Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough have been cleaning up messes and assessing damage after Friday’s 7.0 earthquake.

How do you know if your home was seriously damaged? Here’s a guide:

• Cracks in sheetrock, or even in concrete, are not necessarily a reason to worry. Sheetrock is not a structural part of the house.

• If you can look through a crack and see daylight, that may be a sign of a bigger problem.

• Watch out for things that have moved out of place, like a wall or a foundation. A wall that has moved a few inches is not a good sign. Check to see if the house looks tilted, or no longer square.

For homeowners who suspect serious damage, Ross Noffsinger, the acting Anchorage building official, has these tips on how to proceed:

If you live within the Anchorage building safety service area, which does not include Chugiak-Eagle River: Start with a legitimate, licensed, bonded and insured contractor. You can also consult with home inspectors or structural engineers. Ask around, search online or use, a free online resource. Or, call the city’s building safety department and make a service request.

If you have structural damage, a building permit will be necessary to make repairs. The permit will involve a detailed municipal plan review and an inspection.

If you’re outside of Anchorage’s building safety service area:

• Consult with home inspectors or a structural engineer.

• Hire a reputable contractor to make any necessary repairs.

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