Encino is one of the oldest parts of the San Fernando Valley. The upscale town begins at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains. The town is largely made up of upper middle class neighborhoods and apartments. It was made famous by the 1982 hit song “Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa. The town is made up largely by families that come from old money. And many of the homes and apartment buildings there have been standing for decades. If you own one of them it is probably time for a soft-story retrofit.

Encino was one of the many towns that was heavily affected by the earthquake in 1994. At a magnitude of 6.7 many structures were demolished and neighborhoods ruined. The town itself has experienced many quakes, most quite mild, since 1931. But after the Northgate Earthquake of 1994, the city of Los Angeles updated their soft-story building policies to help prevent future damage and loss of life.

After that quake was over, city officials toured the area to assess the damage and make plans for future earthquakes. Structures built after that earthquake should be up to code on the new safety measures enacted. But it wasn’t until recently that the city updated its policies on older buildings. If your building was constructed before 1994, you will want to call one of the soft-story retrofit contractors in Encino and get the process started.

How do I know if I have a soft-story building?

When the city officials were inspecting the damage of the Northgate Earthquake, they found that soft-story buildings were hit the hardest. A soft-story building is any structure that has more than three floors and is built above ground level. The lowest floor usually includes large, open spaces, like parking garages, doors and windows. Newer structures have a sheer wall that is designed to withstand earthquakes and high winds. Many older structures either don’t have this wall or the sheer wall is not thick enough for the current safety standards.

In the case of a strong earthquake, the floors above the ground level have a higher chance of collapsing upon themselves. This can lead to loss of property and loss of life. This is especially true for apartment dwellings, which were hard hit in the 1994 quake. The best way to know for sure if you need to have a soft-story retrofit done to your structure is to call a professional.

If you look up Soft Story Retrofit Contractor in Encino, you will find a number of companies listed, like RetroFitting 360. They serve the greater Los Angeles area and are highly trained for this type of job. If you decided to go with Retrofit 360 you will be guaranteed a professional contractor who will walk you through every step of the retrofit process.

Why do I need a retrofit now?

You can never know when an earthquake is going to hit, or where. City officials have set a deadline for 2020, when all soft-story buildings constructed before 1994, need to be brought up to code. If you are a landlord, this is doubly important. It is up to you to maintain the safety of your building. Many family members sued landlords after the Northgate Earthquake and won. You do not want to be responsible for a tenant’s loss of life or have to face an expensive lawsuit.

What is involved in the process?

It takes quite a bit of work to complete the retrofit process, so don’t wait until the last minute to get started. Have your chosen contractor complete an assessment of your building as soon as you can. Once that is done they will create a work plan for you to see. The next step is to acquire all of the necessary permits from the city so the work can begin.

A retrofit may be as simple as adding more steel beams and columns to a parking garage, or more complex, like extending or strengthening the sheer wall. It is important you choose a professional contractor who is skilled in this type of job. Retrofit 360 are experts in their field. Their contractors are knowledgeable about the soft-story retrofit policies and will deliver the job effectively, professionally and affordably. After the work is complete, a city inspector will come out and make sure your structure meets the current safety standards. Remember, it is not about if another earthquake will hit Encino, but when.

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