This paper focuses on the promise of ‘modern’ and ‘indigenous’ technologies in contributing to earthquake risk reduction in a socio-economically sustainable way. It studies the Owner Driven Reconstruction programme in Pakistan, in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake. Using new qualitative and quantitative data collected during field research in Pakistan in 2008, a detailed analysis of programme developments and achievements is conducted. The programme was found to be fairly successful in meeting the needs and preferences of the beneficiaries, which includes the high quality of reconstructed houses according to seismic-resistance principles and homeowners’ satisfaction with their newly constructed house as well as reduced earthquake risk perception. Focussing on the implementation process of the seismic-resistant techniques, the paper examines how programme actors learned to select the right technologies and adapt the programme to local needs. The role of homeowners and artisans in shaping actual construction activities, modifying the introduced technologies, and contributing to policy changes is analysed. In general, the paper studies how and why the introduced technologies came to fit with the local context and how have the capabilities of actors, both individual and institutional, contributed to creating such a fit? Overall, the programme shows that risk reduction for earthquakes can be achieved through selection of appropriate technologies by programme actors as well as through technological adaptations by homeowners and artisans. In addition, it highlights the ingenuity of programme actors in working with homeowners’ technological modifications by developing and promoting remedial measures to increase the seismic resistance of modified houses. Finally, in this programme, participation by beneficiaries has been the key in inducing vital policy changes as well as creating a habitat that is more resilient against potential new earthquakes.