Soft Story Retrofitting – Everything You Need to Know

Posted August 28, 2020, under Blog

As a Los Angeles resident, you’ve probably heard the term “soft story” or “soft story retrofit” by now.

A soft story building is a multi-unit property that was constructed with a weak or vulnerable first floor. These first floors are typically characterized as open spaces that are utilized for tuck under parking or open store fronts.

Most of the soft story structures in Los Angeles were built between 1960 and 1979 — they were a very popular type of architecture for apartment buildings and office spaces.

Unfortunately, by today’s engineering standards, these buildings are considered weak and unsafe. We saw just how unstable these structures were during the 6.7 magnitude Northridge Earthquake in 1994, where these structures – by large – failed in response to the intense shaking, which caused the second floor of these buildings to collapse to the bottom open space.

These buildings collapsed because they lack the modern structural reinforcements needed in order to withstand higher magnitudes of seismic activity.

Luckily, most soft story structures can be fixed and reinforced with soft story retrofitting.

Because of their extreme vulnerabilities, Los Angeles passed legislation in 2015 making the retrofit of these structures mandatory.

Under L.A.’s building ordinance, owners of these soft story structures have 7 years to retrofit any wood-frame buildings and 25 years to fix concrete buildings.

In addition to avoiding penalty, retrofitting these structures ensures that those who reside there will be safe during the next earthquake – which will save lives and prevent future lawsuits.

In Los Angeles, soft story building owners who have been given a receipt to comply will have 2 years from that mandate to submit proof of a previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish the building, 3.5 years to obtain a permit to start construction and 7 years to complete the retrofit construction.

If you own a soft story structure in Los Angeles, it’s important to get the property inspected as soon as possible.

When you work with Julian Construction, we’ll send one of our skilled foundation inspectors to evaluate the structure of the building and determine the most effective and cost-efficient solution for retrofitting the property.

There are various methods used for retrofitting these soft story structures. Some of the most common solutions used are the installation of steel moment frames and plywood shear walls, which add the necessary support a soft story structure will need to withstand a sizable earthquake.

And in order to keep soft story repair affordable for our customers, we offer a price guarantee — because we know our quote for repair will represent your very best value.

Give us a call at call (323) 733-3377 to schedule your free inspection or complete the inspection request form.

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