For Angela Lin of northeast Pasadena, Friday's earthquake meant crumbled walls, smashed windows and a severely buckled swimming pool.
For Kathy Holmes of Altadena, it meant only a cracked chimney.
The two women, like countless other San Gabriel Valley residents, know that even a moderate earthquake may mean major expenditures.
"It's going to be a fortune to fix this," Lin said, as she tried to reach her boyfriend in Taiwan. His parents own the house.
After the quake, Lin, Holmes and others cleaned up debris and compared damages with their neighbors.
Later in the day, their neighborhoods were filled with the panel trucks and flatbeds of masons, plumbers and structural engineers. As the workers passed on the streets, some waved and honked their horns in recognition of their good fortune.
While earthquakes are often measured by the number of buildings destroyed, they more routinely inflict scattershot damage in residential areas. While cracked chimneys and foundations might qualify as only minimal damage, that can still be a major setback. Such was the primary toll taken by the quake Friday throughout the San Gabriel Valley.
At Ed Sylvis Construction Co., which specializes in seismic safety, the telephones were busy all morning. By 2 p.m., the wall next to Sylvis' desk was covered with messages marked urgent.
"This is going to keep me going crazy for at least six months," he said. "I don't know how we're going to do it all."
Some of the calls to Sylvis were near emergencies, such as Holmes' teetering chimney, which Sylvis said he would demolish this weekend.
Other calls were more precautionary in nature from people who made it through the quake unscathed but were motivated through fear to do more extensive seismological work, such as bolting houses to foundations.
Lin wished that her boyfriend had thought of taking such preventive measures, or at least, she said, he should have taken out an earthquake insurance policy.
"I guess everybody thinks it's not going to happen to them," Lin said.
Some of those living in Sierra Madre, near the epicenter, were most in need of expert advice.
Ralph Rittenhouse, who built his house and several others nearby, was surveying property with his structural engineer. Movement at Rittenhouse's home had been so strong that the top six feet of the chimney dropped intact into the side yard, crushing a wrought iron fence.
"We want to find out if it's safe to stay here tonight," his wife, Ann Rittenhouse, said.
A few of those whose houses were damaged said they feared this boom time for repairs would translate into inflated fees.
Even though the chimney on Suzanne Britt's 1920s bungalow in Pasadena appeared ready to topple, she said she would probably have it removed and wait until next year to add a new one.
"I had planned to have somebody out to look at it because I knew the mortar was just like sand," she said. "But the prices have probably doubled."