Soft-Story Retrofitting Techniques in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles has many soft-story buildings. Soft-story buildings are a type of residential building with at least one soft floor on the ground level, typically used for parking or storage space – and these soft floors make them susceptible to collapse during an earthquake. Soft-story retrofitting aims to reduce the risk of soft-story collapse by strengthening the foundations and walls by adding seismic upgrades.

Soft Story Buildings Are Prevalent in Los Angeles

Soft-story retrofitting is a relatively new practice in Los Angeles. In the past, soft stories were not considered an issue because they weren’t as prevalent in the soft soil of Southern California. However, with soft-story buildings being a big part of modern construction design due to their affordability and accessibility for lower-income residents, retrofitting soft stories has become more important than ever. This is even more prevalent with the risk of massive earthquakes that could happen in the future.

The Vulnerabilities of Soft Story buildings

Unlike regular buildings, soft-story buildings have soft ground floors that are often used for parking or storage space. A building’s soft story can’t support upper levels very well because they’re made with less secure materials that don’t provide much structural strength. This makes them more vulnerable to collapse in a disaster because the soft stories can’t support the upper levels of a building as well as traditional structures with concrete foundations and walls.

What is Soft Story Retrofitting?

Soft story retrofitting aims to reduce the risk of soft-story collapse. Retrofitting soft-story buildings with seismic upgrades like shear walls and foundation reinforcement can make them more resistant to earthquake damage and prevent collapses.

Adding a few simple retrofit measures, such as strengthening the connection between floors and stairwells in order to maintain structural stability during an earthquake, is often enough for soft stories that are only one or two levels high.

Which Soft Story Retrofitting Techniques Are Being Used in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles soft-story retrofit projects use a variety of different soft-story retrofitting techniques to strengthen the buildings and keep them safe. These include adding shear walls, increasing building height by doubling up on floors or constructing new higher stories if possible, reinforcing concrete slabs, and installing vertical reinforcement.

Soft Story Foundation Reinforcement

One such upgrade is installing base isolation systems that use ball-and-socket connections to reduce earthquake shaking. However, these soft-story foundation reinforcements are expensive and difficult to retrofit into buildings that already have concrete foundations in place.

Again soft stories that are only one or two levels high may or may not need any additional reinforcement. Consult Retrofitting360 for the appropriate retrofit for your building. Soft stories with more than three levels will require extra support from either engineering vertical plates of a lightweight steel frame done on the ground floor or as mentioned before by installing base isolation systems that use ball bearings to keep things more stable.

Another simple soft story retrofit measure is to strengthen the connection between floors and stairwells in order to maintain structural stability during an earthquake. This usually makes soft story retrofitting more affordable as it doesn’t require a complete reconstruction of the site.

Either way, a soft story retrofit will still save you lots of money in potential damage costs and future headaches.

What is Shear Walling?

Shear walling is a type of structural engineering which prevents the building’s roof or upper stories from collapsing onto its lower levels in case of an earthquake, fire, or other disasters.

A shear wall is a vertical load-bearing wall that, when combined with slabs and beams at right angles to it, helps resist seismic forces on buildings.

Shear walls are designed to resist lateral forces as well. This makes soft stories more resistant to earthquakes by preventing slabs from sliding off each other when the ground moves.

In addition, shear walls are less expensive than other types of seismic upgrades and they work well for soft stories of all sizes, making them a popular choice when retrofitting soft-story buildings.

Because they work well for soft stories of all sizes and are affordable while also giving soft stories the structural support they desperately need they are often used in conjunction with other soft story retrofitting techniques.

Since every soft-story building is unique, soft-story property owners should consult with their local seismic engineer to find out which upgrades are necessary for them.

How Can Soft Story Retrofit Projects Be Financed?

There are a variety of ways that soft-story retrofits can come about, but all work in a similar fashion: by obtaining loans from banks or other lenders and using funds to invest in the project. One way is through federal tax credits for soft-story retrofits for low and moderate-income housing, which can be used as a valid financing tool.

Soft Story Retrofitting Is An Investment For A Safer Community

These types of retrofits can be expensive but have been shown to save lives and increase the lifespan of soft-story buildings. There are many different types of soft-story retrofitting, and each one varies in cost. It is important to consider where a soft-story building is located before deciding which type of retrofit measure will best suit it.

For example, soft stories in areas with high seismic activity should be prioritized for more expensive measures because soft-story retrofitting that includes shear walls and foundation reinforcement can help reduce the risk of collapse.

Soft-story retrofitting in Los Angeles is an important project that needs to continue in order to protect the lives of future generations. Soft story retrofits make your building feel safer in the event of an earthquake. With earthquakes being more prevalent than ever before, this issue will only become more pressing with time unless we take the necessary precautions.

Soft story retrofitting is an important step in creating safer neighborhoods and communities. If you live near a soft-story building, talk with your city councilperson about seismic upgrades like shear walls for soft stories that are one or two levels high. For more information on the safety of soft-story retrofits and how to make them happen in your neighborhood, contact our experts today!

If you would like more information about soft story retrofitting and a free consultation, please contact us at:

1-844-730-0900 or visit our consultation page here: