Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

A Methodology for Estimating Seismic Retrofit Costs



Juan F. Fung, David T. Butry, Siamak Sattar, Steven L. McCabe


Presidential Executive Order 13717 (EO 13717), Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard, encourages federal agencies to ”enhance resilience...[to] future earthquakes” by evaluating and retrofitting existing federal buildings based on current existing building codes. However, while guidance on evaluation and retrofit practices is readily available, a standard approach to estimating retrofit costs does not exist. Moreover, the absence of easily obtainable estimates can make retrofits prohibitive for decision-makers. This paper develops a cost-estimating methodology for seismic retrofits that (1) captures the essential factors that drive seismic retrofit costs, such as building construction and square footage; and (2) is reproducible using data available to decision-makers. The methodology builds on FEMA 156 and 157, Typical Costs for Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings, Volumes 1 and 2. A series of regression models is fit to the data used for the FEMA reports, with the models varying in the level of data required; e.g., a decision-maker may not have information on building construction for each asset in their inventory. Thus, the trade-off from estimating retrofit costs subject to data limitations can be quantified in terms of prediction error, providing decision-makers with a set of options for estimating costs together with a measure of predictive performance. We find that a simple model, in terms of data requirements, can deliver reliable predictions.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1973
Report Number
Created September 28, 2017, Updated November 10, 2018