Q
What is a Soft Story building?
AA soft-story building is a structure which has a weaker first floor and is unable to carry the weight of the stories above during an earthquake. The first floor generally would have large openings in the perimeter walls such as garages, tuck under parking or even large windows.
Q
What is the mandatory soft-story retrofit program?
AThe City of Los Angeles recently passed Ordinance 183893, which requires the retrofit of pre-1978 wood-frame Soft-Story buildings and non-ductile concrete buildings. The purpose of this program is to reduce the risk of injury or loss of life that may result from the effects of earthquakes on wood frame soft-story buildings. In the Northridge Earthquake, many wood frame soft- story buildings caused loss of life, injury, and property damage.
Q
How to Protect a Soft Story Structure?
AThe first step in any soft-story seismic retrofitting project is to analyze the structure and determine the best way to strengthen the building. One of our structural engineers will have to weigh several factors when deciding the best way to approach the project. Not only do we have to ensure the building will meet the structural standards required of retrofitted buildings, but we also have to minimize the impact on the function and use of the building.
Q
What is seismic retrofitting?
AThe seismic retrofitting process involves the installation of engineered metal connectors and other reinforcement materials at key stress points throughout your home’s structure. The specially designed hardware includes hold downs, anchors & anchor bolts, strap ties and framing angles. Wood blocking and structural sheathing may also be incorporated into many retrofitting packages.

The goal of the retrofitting process is to counteract three main earthquake-induced forces that can cause major damage to a building: racking, sliding and overturning. In engineer-speak, the retrofitting process transforms a building with loosely connected parts into a unified structure with a “continuous load path” that extends from the building foundation up through the walls and all the way to the roof framing. Our experienced crew will utilize an impressive arsenal of seismic connectors to keep your structure together in spite of seismic forces that can easily tear an un-reinforced structure apart.

Q
Q. How much does seismic retrofitting cost?
A​The cost of a soft-story retrofit varies greatly depending on the scope of the project, but just to give you an idea, a medium size building can cost anywhere between $60,000 to $80,000 while a large size building can range from $100,000 to $150,000 and even more.