A lot of the buildings in the Los Angeles area are classified as a soft-story structure. What that means is, these buildings have rooms or offices located above a garage, parking structure, lobby or entryway. When a major earthquake strikes, which is the norm for this area, if the building had not had an earthquake retrofit, the floors are likely to collapse on top of each other.
The city has written new ordinances that mandate all soft-story structures built before 1994, are required to have a seismic retrofit. City officials sent out notices to owners of these structures notifying them of this new ordinance, and in most cases, giving them a deadline of 2022.
The new ordinances provide a timetable as to when you must have the job completed and the proof submitted. If you have already started the work, or had a retrofit done previously, you have two years to get the proof turned in. If not, you must get the permit for construction within the next 3.5 years and have the job completed within seven years.
This type of construction job has a number of steps you need to take to get it done on time. Knowing what these steps are will help you to create a plan of action and form an estimate as to how long it will take to complete.
Step One: Initial Assessment and Engineering Inspection
The first step is to find a structural engineer to come out to your building and do an inspection. They will analyze the building and create a work plan for you. This plan will include the safest options for your building, an estimated cost of what the work will cost, and a timeline for how long it will take to complete.
Step Two: Approval and Permits
Once you have a work plan, the next step is to find a professional earthquake retrofitting company to do the job. If you do a Google search you will see there are quite a few in the Los Angeles area to choose from. Be sure to find out how long they have been in business, how much experience they have in soft-story retrofits, and look for reviews from previous customers to see what they thought of the company.
When you find the company you want to hire, they will send a contractor out to meet with you. He will submit the work plan from the engineer, and other necessary documentation, to the Building Department for approval and permits. You cannot start the work without all the proper permits in place.
Step Three: Getting the Work Completed
Now that you have your permits, the work can begin. In your first meeting with your retrofitting contractor they should have provided you with an estimated timeline for the project. Make sure this timeline falls within the one mandated by the city. When the job is completed, a city inspector will need to come out and sign off on the work.
If you are looking for a soft-story retrofit company in Los Angeles that offers earthquake retrofitting, contact us for more information.