Am I in Need of a Soft Story Retrofit?

Earthquakes and seismic activity in California is not something new. In fact, Southern California is expecting a large earthquake here soon. They have been expecting it for several years now. This is just something the people of California must face and deal with. However, the law now states that soft-story buildings must be able to withstand the seismic activity better. There is a list of properties that will need some type of seismic retrofit done to them.  

The purpose of this is to provide safer environments for the public and reduce the number of lost houses due to earthquakes. Soft-story retrofitting in Los Angeles is mandatory. The program indicates that the requirements must comply by the year 2022. There are more soft-story buildings in Hollywood, San Fernando Valley, and West Los Angeles. This is because these areas are very densely populated and have what is known as tuck-in parking. 

What is Soft-Story?

What a typical soft story building looks like in the Los Angeles area

Many people are unfamiliar with the term soft-story. However, it is very easy to find out which buildings are and are not a soft-story. These buildings are multiple stories. Generally, these are apartment buildings. They will have wide doors, commercial spaces, or other open spaces where a wall would generally be required. These open spaces are normally used for parking. These are known as tuck-in garages. The structure hangs over the open space. During an earthquake, the ground floor is not as stable as the upper floors which means that the upper floors could collapse into the open space.

Do I Need Soft-Story Retrofitting in Los Angeles? 

You may be wondering if you need retrofitting to withstand seismic activity. If your property has tuck-in parking, tuck-in parking with two or more stories, or if you have tuck-in parking with more than three units you will need to retrofit. Keep in mind that the ordinance will only apply to structures that are made of wood. SO if your property is made of other materials, you will have a longer time to comply with the ordinance.

13,500 Structures

The city of Los Angeles spent about two years gathering different information about the soft-story buildings within the limits. They have identified about 13,500 buildings that will need at least some type of seismic retrofit. These buildings were built after WWII. The population spiked and these were great for accommodating the growth of the city, however, they are considered very weak against earthquakes. If the building was built anywhere between 1950 and 1980, it will likely not comply with the modern codes and need retrofitting. This is especially true if the building is located near a fault line. You can call the city to see if your building is on the list that needs retrofitting.

The Process

A snapshot from the retrofit process a soft story building undergoes

Soft-story retrofit Los Angeles is something that you must do. It is not a difficult process, however, it can be loud and take some time. The first step is to get your plans approved so that they comply with current codes. Once they are approved, your construction can begin. Be sure that you are informing your tenants about the construction because they can be impacted. Soft-story retrofitting in Los Angeles should be done by a licensed architect in the state of California. You want them to know what they are doing. 

The process will involve replacing the wooden beams with steel ones. This will help strengthen the structure. If your building is larger, tenants may need to leave their apartments for a little while so that they can get the construction done. You do not want to wait for the next big earthquake to destroy your building. You should contact Retrofit1. They will have licensed contractors and architects for the state of California. Our company will make the most of your process. We want it to go as quickly and efficiently as possible and will be there for you every step of the way. Keep in mind that you do not want to get a fine for not complying with the ordinance. Deadlines are coming quicker than you may think and that means the fines are too. Contact Retrofit1 to get your consultation, quote, and advice.