Soft story buildings pose a challenge in the wider Los Angeles area that has an ever-present danger of earthquakes. First floors in these buildings are not strong enough to carry the load above when an earthquake strikes.
Usually, an earthquake retrofit company carries out a structural assessment of the building to draw up a project design and work plan. Our company, LARC Inc. is one of those actively involved in these projects around Los Angeles and here our experts share some insights.
Your first step should be to carry out a structural assessment of your building to identify probable weaknesses and remedial measures. Our specialized structural engineers will assess the building’s suitability for structural reinforcement within retrofit standards and the impact on functionality during the works. Los Angeles earthquake retrofitting standards have greatly improved as innovations in technology emerge. Once our structural engineers carry out assessment and draw up estimates, you can then can choose the best retrofit option for reinforcement.
Soft story retrofit cost
The cost of a Los Angeles retrofit for a large building can go into hundreds of dollars depending on the type of material chosen. This can be challenging for owners who may not visualize the immediate benefits. To encourage retrofits, cities are providing tax incentives to building owners among other initiatives. However, it is now a requirement in most counties for owners to have their buildings assessed and a professional report issued.
Soft story seismic retrofit
The design of the building will determine the type of retrofit and material for repairs. Works involve the strengthening of existing walls and columns to withstand lateral vibration. Stronger plywood can replace drywalls and then securely anchored to the foundation by our Los Angeles retrofit and construction engineers. Shear walls are equally good although steel frames are best for lateral stability.
Most of the buildings in the greater California state were built many years ago under different standards and civic ordinances. Currently, they fall under the “nonconforming structures or nonconforming use” category barring owners from installing seismic retrofits or any structural modifications. This is due to zoning regulations and floor area ratio (FAR) requirements that the cities have to review to allow retrofits.
The Los Angeles ordinance signed into law by Mayor Garcetti in 2015 stipulated timelines for completing retrofits on soft-story buildings. Wooden structures were given seven years to comply whereas concrete buildings 25 years in accordance with stipulated standards. Under the retrofit program, the building owner could recover 50 percent of the cost upon satisfying the recommended standards.
Most buildings in California face this problem and owners continuously worry about possible consequences in an earthquake. The cost implications for a retrofit can be a hurdle for owners and civic authorities are stepping in to find a solution. However, before you start worrying about cost, we at LARC Inc. recommend that you carry out a professional assessment of your building. Please call us for consultation on 818-629-0923.