California is known for big waves, hot sun, and sandy beaches. It is also known for earthquakes. While mild earthquakes are a common occurrence, and generally accepted as the norm, major earthquakes also occur and can leave immense destruction in their wake. On January 17, 1994, residents of California were rudely awakened to powerful shaking that quickly destroyed all manner of structures. From highway overpasses to utility lines, from houses, to apartments, the earthquake left whole city blocks in ruins and took the lives of 60 people. As a result, the city of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, took measures so that existing buildings would be spared the next time a major earthquake happened. West Hollywood Retrofit Contractors have stepped up to help implement the newest waves of retrofitting policies. 

Among these specialized companies is one that truly stands out. Retrofitting 360 serves Los Angeles and West Hollywood property owners by providing safe, cost-effective solutions to the mandatory Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Program.

What is a Soft Story Building?

Chief among the newest retrofit program is buildings that are termed ‘soft story.’ Any building that has three or more stories and that is built over a ground level is included in a soft story building. The ground level will have windows and doors and possible commercial spaces. To achieve this structure, a shear wall will have been built to add stability to the overall building. There are many soft story buildings in Los Angeles and West Hollywood, many of which have been designated at risk if another major earthquake should happen. 

The first floor of a building will not have sufficient shear walls. This means that were the ground to shake, the floors could begin to collapse on each other. Other floors, such as parking garages, have open spaces and the beams around the parking spaces are simply not strong enough to withstand high-magnitude earthquakes. 

While all buildings built after 1994 have been done so to higher safety measures, buildings older than this, will have been subjected to different codes. As a result, they are not safe to be in when an earthquake happens. Recognizing that another major earthquake is imminent, various California city councils have begun to enact legislature to make retrofitting mandatory for such at-risk buildings. By putting in a bit of work now, the hope is that many lives will be saved in the future. 

Liability

It’s important to learn from the past and one unfortunate learning opportunity is how to prevent future loss of life. Many of the victims of the Northgate Earthquake lived in apartment buildings. After the destruction became evident, some family members went on to sue apartment owners, and successfully won. Tenants renting had no knowledge of the building’s construction, and so it fell to the building’s owners to maintain the structure. In the future, it is now imperative that all building owners understand that it is their responsibility to begin the retrofitting process. 

Process

Now that the affected buildings have been issues notices, the next step is to begin the retrofitting process. West Hollywood Retrofit Contractors, such as Retrofitting 360, well help with the entire process. The end date is completion of the retrofit by 2022, but a lot needs to happen before everything is completed. First, an assessment needs to be done so that the scope of the project is clear. Retrofitting could involve more shear walls, or it could include a new steel frame. Permits need to be issued and then construction can commence. 

At the end of the project, inspections and final reports will be completed. The point is that in order to actually be done by the deadline, this whole process needs to start as soon as possible. Look to West Hollywood Retrofitting Contractors, such as Retrofitting 360. They are the experts in their field. They understand the city ordinance and specialize in soft story apartment buildings. Efficient, knowledgeable, practical, and professional; you can expect all this from Retrofitting 360. Remember that the next big earthquake isn’t a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Be prepared so that you can keep your home safe, your valuables secured, and most importantly, keep yourself protected. 

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