Gearing You Up for Soft Story Retrofit Season
Homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area have likely heard some buzz about soft story retrofits, but today we’ll explore the full scope of the process. Already thousands of buildings in Los Angeles County alone have received mandatory retrofit ordinances mandating that they update or demolish their soft story structures.
While this process can seem daunting and overwhelming, breaking down what soft story structures are, exploring the retrofitting process, and discovering the best time to retrofit will allow the stress to be removed from this major, but necessary, building renovation project. Ready to get started?
Related: Thousands of Soft Story Structures Still Need Retrofitting
Reasons Behind the Retrofit
If you’ve received a mandatory Order to Comply in the mail, then you’re already aware that your building has been identified as a soft story structure.
And you’re not the only one. Over 20,000 buildings in Los Angeles alone have been marked for being structurally unsound due to having a weakened ground floor that is structurally unable to support the floors above it in the event of seismic activity.
This is often the result of having large open areas on the ground floor, such as parking areas or excessively sized windows. While it certainly isn’t good news to be informed that your building requires a soft story retrofit, solid reasons are backing the process.
Because the structures of soft story buildings leave the buildings so vulnerable, there is a very high risk of structural damage and subsequent fatalities and even death when earthquakes strike soft story buildings. A soft story regulation is therefore needed to ensure for area safety since when it comes to earthquakes in Southern California, it’s not a question of if but when.
Breaking Down the Retrofit Timeline
Not only are soft story retrofits mandatory, but there is a finite amount of time in which your project must be completed. If you haven’t received an Order to Comply in the mail, you can always book a soft story inspection to evaluate the state of your structure.
Once you have received the Order to Comply, you will have 2 years to submit proof of previous retrofit, plans for the soft story retrofit, or plans to demolish the building. You must hold on to the letter, so be sure to keep it safe. After the letter is received, you have 3.5 years to get together all permits that are needed to commence either construction or demolition. The project must be completed within 7 years of receiving the Order to Comply.
Failure to follow the timeline could result in severe penalties for the building owner. Therefore, it is very important to stick to the timeline and ensure that all aspects of the soft story retrofit are completed in time. When it comes to complying with soft story regulations, there is no time to delay. This is a mandatory process that needs to be completed as soon as possible for a variety of reasons.
When is the Right Time to Retrofit?
Ready to get started on your retrofit? There are many benefits to getting your soft story retrofit completed during the spring and summer months. Most earthquake retrofits involve cripple wall bracing to hold the structure intact and foundation bolting to keep the building locked in place.
Spring and summer months create the ideal opportunity for completing this process due to the reliable and mild weather and extended daylight hours. The warm months provide ample time for soft story inspections so that a professional contractor can thoroughly investigate each aspect of your building. Because so many buildings have received mandatory orders to comply, there is a high demand for the retrofitting process to be finalized.
Workers can complete more work in the day during the warm months, allowing your soft story retrofit process to proceed without any hitches, such as rain delays Some soft story retrofits are more advanced than others depending on the degree of damage. Severe structural damage could lead to the existing concrete slab being removed and steel reinforcement structures being added to bolster the building before new concrete is poured.
Only a soft story inspection will reveal the extent of the retrofitting process, so it’s paramount to provide ample time for the process to be completed. Avoid the winter weather rain delays by planning your soft story retrofit for the mild, warm months.
Working in the warm months also provides soil that is easier to work with, speeding up the process.
Soft Story Retrofit Benefits
Failure to comply with soft story regulations will not only result in penalties, but it will leave your building structurally compromised. Any event that involves the ground moving, no matter how seemingly minor, can lead to serious structural damage that could mean the end of your building.
From foundation cracks to warped walls and floors, earthquake damage is something you should avoid at all costs. Getting started on your retrofitting process as soon as possible will decrease the overall project cost since the mandatory soft story retrofits are increasingly driving prices up as time progresses.
In addition to lower costs, you can also reap economic advantages, as completed soft story retrofits entitle building owners to significant savings. Many insurance companies offer large premiums for completed soft story retrofits, while you can additionally lower certain building insurances.
You’ll also receive a competitive advantage by acting quickly, as your building will be removed from city inventory as early as possible, becoming exempt from future retrofit demands.
Lastly, with cost recovery programs available, homeowners can receive aid for complying with the soft story retrofit process.
Soft story retrofit season is around the corner! Don’t wait to book your complimentary soft story inspection provided by California Foundation Works.
Southern California earthquakes are turbulent and unpredictable, and the last thing you want is to be left unprepared when the next one strikes.
Call to book your free home inspection so that we can examine your home, provide an estimate, and start to discuss the next steps in the soft story retrofit process.
With our complimentary inspection, you have nothing to lose by playing it safe! Take advantage of the warm weather, and get started on protecting your investment today.
Call California Foundation Works today to book your FREE* Soft Story Inspection