Soft Story Retrofit

Soft Story Retrofit

The City of Los Angeles (13,500 buildings affected), Santa Monica (2,000 buildings affected) and West Hollywood (800 buildings affected) have passed mandatory seismic upgrade retrofit laws to all Soft Story buildings in their cities.

What is a Soft Story building?

In the 1950s and 1960s building on Stilts was popular as an inexpensive way to add parking. About 80% of these buildings were wood frame construction. If you are one of the 20% that a Soft Story Building with a concrete frame or steel frame your retrofit cost will be dramatically lower – about $50 to $100/sqft compared to wood frame buildings.

Many of the Dingbat apartment buildings had tuck under parking that was accompanied by these stilts. Since Southern California is in an active earthquake zone, the city wants to reinforce these buildings and strength them from collapse in the event of a serious earthquake

There is a great LA Times article about Soft Story Retrofits

How do I check if a building I own requires a Soft Story Retrofit?

The city mails out notices to property owners. If you want to check for yourself each city has an online tool for you to use:

Los Angeles

Los Angeles Parcel Viewer will show you if a property is required to have a soft story retrofit:

Here is a bunch of information from the city website:

Santa Monica

West Hollywood

What is the process for Soft Story Retrofitting?

The first step in the Soft Story Retrofit process is to hire a structural engineer to analyze your building. Most Soft Story Retrofit companies will have an in-house structural engineer or work very closely with an outside Structural Engineering company so you can just approach the Soft Story Retrofit company directly. I have compiled a Los Angeles Structural Engineer list to help you find one. 

Based on the evaluation by the Structural Engineer, they will tell you what you need to do to meet the soft story retrofit requirements. Some of the common things they recommend are: adding Shear Walls, adding steel frame to reinforce the soft areas of the building, adding brackets to the framing, Anchoring walls to the foundation, and increasing the size of supports. 

How much does a Soft Story Retrofit Cost?

The cost varies by the size of the building and the method used to reinforce it. A good Retrofit cost Estimate is 5K – 10K / per unit.  I recommend to get 3 bids from soft-story retrofit companies (see names on Soft Story Retrofit Companies list below). The average project cost is $30,000 to $60,000 for small to midsize buildings and $80,000 to $120,000 for large ones. Permit fees are $800 to $1,000.

FYI – The city allows landlords to recover 50% of the total retrofit cost by raising rents. 

How Long do you have to complete a Soft Story Retrofit?

Los Angeles 7 Years, Santa Monica 5 years, West Hollywood 5 years. 

How Long Does a Soft Story Retrofit Take?

The most quickly a Soft Story Retrofit can be done is 40 -60 days. Some owners decide to move more slowly. Soft Story Retrofit Ordinances have different timelines for a structural engineer review, beginning and finishing construction. Since retrofitting is a large expense- cities allow up to 3 – 4 years to complete the retrofit. 

Download or Print Soft Story Retrofit COMPANY LIST

Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Company List

Soft Story Retrofit Companies
Alpha Structural
The Foundation Works
Titan Contracting Services
White Castle Construction
Bay Cities Construction
Quake Strong Seismic
360 Retrofitting
SKS Construction
Retrofit Experts
Seismic Retrofit Solutions
Julian Construction
Core Construction
Optimal Seismic
A2Z Seismic Retrofit
Soft Story Retrofit Pros
La Retrofit
American Retrofitters
Lic# 1020382

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