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Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofits| What you should know...

Posted by Bryan Echeverria on Nov 7 2017

Did you know that soft story retrofits are now mandatory in Los Angeles?

Soft story retrofitting in Los Angeles and Santa Monica are no longer something that is recommended, it is now actually the Law!

Bay Cities Construction has been a California licensed contractor for more than 15 years. We pride ourselves as your learning center when considering a major construction project. Bay Cities Construction has published many articles about Soft story retro fitting in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, CA (input pillar links to other articles).  Los Angeles now has the nation's toughest earthquake safety rules.

Los Angeles City Soft Story retrofit Ordinance 183893 and 184081 detail which structures are affected. You can down load those documents below.


What is a soft story Building?

A typical soft story building is a multi-level structure located over a ground level with large openings. For instance, a building with tuck under parking, garage, or commercial store front.

Which buildings are affected?

Buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria:

  • Consist of 2 or more stories wood frame construction
  • Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978
  • Contains ground floor parking or another similar open floor space

The program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 or less units.

In November of 2015 the City of Los Angeles passed ordinance 183893 and 184081, which mandates that Soft story structures be retro-fitted.


Why do we have to retrofit our soft story building? Why was this law  enacted?

Los Angeles City Soft Story retrofit Ordinance 183893 and 184081 detail which structures are affected.

Soft story structures designed and approved prior to 1979 are considered weak by current engineering standards. A considerable amount of soft story buildings were constructed between 1960 – 1979.

These structures have the propensity of experiencing catastrophically damaged in the event of a major earthquake. Soft story structures have failed during significant seismic activity. They are weak because they are have unreinforced openings on the ground floor which caused far more movement than the structure can withstand. When this happens, resulting in the upper floors COLLAPSING on top of the lower level.


What is a Soft Story Retro-fit?

The weakest parts of the building are structurally reinforced to be able to resist seismic movement during an earthquake. In many cases structural steel connectors and I-beams are used. In most cases glue-lam beams and steel connection hardware are used to carry strengthen the weak sections of a structure.

What I the process of doing a Softy Story Retrofit?

  1. Create a site plan of buildings on the property.
    1. This type of plan is considered architectural plans to scale that meet Type V classification. This must include all the buildings on the property, property line boundaries.
    2. Engineering: a licensed structural engineer will use the site plan to create a structural solution to the weaknesses of the building. The engineer will have detailed all to structural connections and supports that must be built to strengthen the building.
  2. Bring the plans to the City Plan Checkers.
    1. It is important to touch base with the city planners and city engineering once your plans are ready. You will get guidance about what notes and data have to be present in the plans in order to gain city approval.
  3. Quote the cost of construction.
    1. You cannot get an accurate cost of construction until you have a full set of plans that detail the repair. If you have questions about the difference between a quote and an estimate please read our blog article about “Quote Vs. Estimate.”
  4. Construction Planning
    1. You must give notice to tenants because they will be affected by the construction.
    2. Many time plumbing and electrical infrastructure is affected by the retrofit work because these pipes and conduit run along the ceiling of the carport. Often items they need to be relocated or temporally disconnected. You can download a check list of “to does” prior to construction.
  5. Construction Work
    1. This type of work is very disruptive to the tenants so the faster your contractor finishes the better. A clear construction schedule should be established prior to commencement of construction so that the affected people can plan accordingly.

Do you need a turn key solution to get your building into compliance?

Bay Cities Construction is a California licensed Contractor. We have a team of engineers and designers that are ready work for you. This is what we offer.

  1. Our team will draft your preliminary drawings within 4 weeks.
  2. We will represent you with the City of Santa Monica and The City of Los Angeles.
  3. We will provide you with a written quote that covers labor and materials for the work.


Schedule a Quote