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Following the January 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake in California, engineers, contractors, building officials, insurance adjusters, and residential property owners were challenged with the assessment and repair of earthquake damage for more than 100,000 wood frame buildings.

Inexperience, poor communication, and the lack of a consensus for engineering guidelines related to the investigation, assessment, and repair of earthquake damage led to inconsistent and sometimes inequitable damage assessments. Other consequences included dubious repair recommendations, inequitable paid losses far in excess of predictions, and widespread controversy.

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