Defining a Seismic Hazard Zone in the NHD report

May 30

California is regularly inundated with natural disasters, and some areas are more likely to be affected than others are. As a result, the state government has established hazard zones and indicated them in special maps. The government has also required all property sellers in the state to provide prospective buyers with a Natural Hazard Disclosure or NHD report.

The NHD report became a requirement when the Natural Hazards Disclosure Act took effect on June 1, 1998. The NHD report may be based on the Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement form or the Local Option Real Estate Disclosure Statement provided under the California Civil Code (§1102.6c or §1102.6a, respectively). One of the inclusions in either one of these reports is the seismic hazard zone.

A seismic hazard zone is an area that is likely to have landslides and liquefaction occur in the event of an earthquake. Liquefaction refers to the breakdown of waterlogged soil. Geologists determine the zones based on the composition and nature of the soil and rock of a particular area. Areas of weakness are prone to failure when an earthquake hits. Any structure built on that location is likely to sustain heavy damage unless it has been specially designed and built to withstand these events.

The State Geologist issues Seismic Hazard Zone maps to the affected city or county agencies, which in turn can use the information to control the development of real estate and oversee the construction of structures. In general, single dwellings of two stories or less are not required to comply with state regulations. However, local agencies may still require sellers of these properties to provide buyers with a copy of the NHD report.

The NHD report can be filled out by the seller, but it requires the seller to go to the various agencies to ascertain if the property is in one of the six hazard zones specified in the report. There are reliable companies that provide this service for a minimal fee.

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