<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=884211501743029&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

How Much Does a Soft-Story Retrofit Construction Cost in Los Angeles?

Posted by Alex Rodriguez on Aug 21 2018


How much will this soft-story retrofit cost? It is the most commonly asked question I get during a site assessment. When this ordinance became law, construction costs were hard to calculate, but now that more than 1,000 buildings have been retrofitted in the City of Los Angeles, construction costs are easier to determine. This small article will help you understand how much you might pay for your soft-story retrofit project. We will segment the estimated construction costs into different brackets that correspond to the size of the property, from smallest to biggest, and we will also include a picture to illustrate the building size.

You should note that these are averages and each building is unique. We created these brackets to help you understand the common price points of soft-story retrofits in the City of Los Angeles. Your actual price might be different depending on the construction method, engineering methods, location, and size of your property. If you want to learn more about the soft story retrofit approval process in The City of Los Angeles, please see this article


(Small apartment building in West Los Angeles, CA)

Small Apartment Building

Approximate  Cost: $20,000-$44,000

Building Profile:

  • Size 4-8 Units
  • Single story above tuck under parking.
  • Level lot with easy access to affected area.
  • No need to relocate any plumbing or major infrastructure.
  • No moment frames required, just shear walls and small grade beams.***
  • Some stucco repair due to diaphragm plywood installation.


*** (Your small building might require a moment frame, depending on the size of the opening)


(8-Unit building in West Los Angeles, CA)

Medium-Size Building

Approximate Cost: $45,000-$80,000

Building Profile:

  • Size 10-15 Units.
  • Two stories above tuck under parking.
  • Level lot with easy to moderate access to affected area.
  • Single Moment with full length grade beams.
  • Shear walls and small grade beams on the return side walls or other part of builder.


(Small Apartment Complex in Studio City, CA)

Small Apartment Complex

Approximate Cost: $82,000-$120,000

Building Profile:

  • Size 20-30 Units.
  • Two stories above tuck under parking.
  • Level lot with easy to moderate access to affected area.
  • Single Moment with full length grade beams.
  • Shear walls and small grade beams on the return side walls or other part of builder.


(Large Apartment Complex in Northridge, CA)

Large Apartment Complex

Approximate Cost: $250,000-$350+

Building Profile:

  • Size: 50 Units.
  • Three stories above tuck under parking.
  • Level lot with easy to moderate access to affected area.
  • Multiple Moment frames with full length grade beams.
  • Multiple Shear walls and small grade beams on the return side walls or other part of the building.
  • Plumbing or major infrastructure relocated.
  • Stucco repair needed at new shear walls.
  • Framing labor with new hold downs and hardware between floors.

Frequently Asked Soft Story Retrofit Questions:

What affects the cost of a soft-story retrofit?

Labor, Labor and Labor! Soft story retrofitting is extremely labor intensive. About 70-75% of your construction costs are allocated to labor. Steel is expensive too, but It pales in comparison to the man-hours you'll need to complete a retrofit project. 

How can I mitigate the cost? 

Your engineer is your ally, they will need to design a solution with labor-reducing strategies in mind. They can implement construction methods that are more affordable than moment frames. Consider opening up connection points and verify what is existing so the you can design with certainty. Minimize surprises. Avoid welding moment frames if possible. 

How can I get the full picture of construction costs?

If you don’t have engineering drawings, you will never know what the true cost! I can’t tell you how many times property owners have come to me with “verbal estimates,” “ball park estimates”, and other none-sense related to their construction costs. I totally understand that building owners want to know how much it will cost, but don’t cut corners! Get the engineering plans done and get an accurate quote based on the plans!  

Important Factors to Consider...

As you begin to interview contractors and engineers, make sure you focus on the individual and not solely on price. Construction is commonly treated as a commodity service and that can lead to major disappointment. This industry is filled with true construction professionals, but there are also many that fall short in competence and professionalism. Be sure to ask about the processes that the company has in place to execute these types of projects successfully. For more information on how to find a retrofit contractor check out this article.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to learn everything there is to know about soft-story retrofits you'll want to check out our most in-depth article What is a Soft-Story Retrofit? Everything You Need to Know About Retrofits  on our newest website. There, you'll be able to access all of our retrofit blog articles, case studies, our retrofit gallery, short videos, and enjoy free access to our full-length soft-story webinars. Our team has developed all this content for property owners like you. It is your destination to learn all about the retrofit process. Bay Cities Construction and Soft-Story Retrofit Pros is here to help answer any questions you may have about your retrofit project. Our team has the experience to Engineer & Build a Cost-Effective Retrofit Solution for your property. Get started today by visiting our website at www.softstoryretrofitpros.com to schedule a free assessment. 


About the Author:

Alexander Rodriguez, MBA is a licensed contractor with over 20 years of construction experience. He has published hundreds of construction-related articles and is also an Adjunct Professor at Mount Saint Mary University, Los Angeles. Please post your comments below and share this article with someone that you think will benefit from its content. If you have more questions about a project please email me directly at alex@baycitiesconstructon.com.

Schedule a Quote