Soft story retrofitting process in LA – step-by-step

Most of you will already know that there are over 13,000 soft-story buildings in LA. These homes and buildings will require soft-story retrofitting Los Angeles. These seismic retrofits need to be done for the safety of the people in the city. These soft-story buildings are not safe because they will not hold up against seismic activity.

The Soft Story Retrofit Process

Soft Story Retrofit in Los Angeles

You must get your plan checked. They also must be submitted. When you are a property owner you must apply for a permit. However, you should leave all these duties to a professional. Retrofit1 would be more than happy to help you. You can walk into the center for your permit Monday through Friday.

Preliminary Meetings

The first step is for the contractor to bring their plans and have a thirty-minute meeting with the engineer of the city. This is nothing formal, however, that doesn’t mean it is not important. The engineer will look over your plans and give you feedback. They will help with calculations and other things. In many instances, this will often leave you with a list of corrections that need to be addressed before the plan goes onto the next step. If you are doing a soft-story retrofit Los Angeles you must do this preliminary meeting.

Formal Submittal

After the first meeting, the contractor will come back to the city once again. They will formally submit their plans. At this time an application must be filled out and their fees for checking the plan paid. You will receive corrections. The first round of your corrections should take about a month from the time of submittal. Once the corrections have been made, you or your contractor will set up a meeting. This meeting will have your plan and the corrections made so you can discuss them. This is the time where your plans will be approved or denied. If they are approved you can move onto the next step in the process.

Tenant Habitability Plan

Retrofit1 Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Team at Work

This is also known as THP. This must be filed with the department of housing for the city. This plan and application will be filed electronically. It will take about five days for this to b approved. Keep in mind that your tenants are required a 25-day notice before any work is done. This notice is required by law so they can plan accordingly for soft-story retrofitting Los Angeles. You will be unable to obtain a permit for construction without your THP.

Soft Story Retrofitting Timeline

The city will have a sign that is posted that will detail the number of days that it will take for your submittals to be assigned to someone to look over them. These numbers will fluctuate based on how many projects have been submitted and how many people are available to review the plans. Normally it will take thirty days for the plan to get back to you. You can get an expedited plan approval for 350 dollars. This will bring your time down ten or fifteen days.

Retrofit Problems to Avoid

The number one problem is eliminating parking spaces. You should never create a plan that will reduce or impact parking areas. This will be frowned upon by the city and they may want to redo your plans before you submit them. Your seismic retrofit should not eliminate parking on your property.
Another common contention is the window and door openings that are located in the tuck-under parking area. You should make sure that you are acknowledging these spaces and providing a proper calculation. These are simple steps that you can take to help the city know that you know what you are looking for.

Expected Soft Story Retrofit Cost

For buildings with eight to twelve units, the plan check will cost anywhere from 850 dollars to 1200 dollars. Larger and more complex projects will be more expensive. You may expect to pay up to 5,500 dollars. Keep in mind that these costs are not included in the construction plans. 


This is not a perfect system, however, it is one of the best for making sure people are safe and the buildings they reside in are safe. Soft-story retrofitting Los Angeles is something that is taken seriously by the city. This is not something that should be taken lightly. That is why you should have a team of experts by your side.