Point Design Build

Seismic Retrofit

Soft-Story Retrofit Mandatory in Los Angeles, CA

The City of Los Angeles recently has passed an Ordinance requiring the retrofit of "Soft-First-Story" wooden buildings and nonductile concrete buildings to ensure life safety. The ordinance applies to:

  • Soft-first-story wooden buildings (exclusive of those built for solely residential purposes and containing three or fewer units) all wooden buildings built to building code standards that were enacted before 1978. Examples of soft-first-story wooden buildings include small parking structures or commercial store fronts, according to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). Without proper strengthening, these types of structures are prone to structural failure during earthquakes.
  • Nonductile concrete buildings (exclusive of detached single-family homes or duplexes) that were built to codes enacted before 1977 must also be retrofitted under the new ordinance. Such buildings have a limited amount of reinforcing rebar in their columns and walls. Under the types of large lateral loads that can occur in earthquakes the columns and walls tend to break apart, enabling the buildings' stories to progressively collapse onto one another as the concrete spalls and the columns and walls weaken.

Under the ordinance, seismic retrofits of the wooden structures must occur within 7 years, and retrofits of nonductile concrete structures must take place within 25 years. Within those time periods are milestones that owners must meet to show that they are taking steps to have their buildings assessed and, if deemed necessary, strengthened.

How to Protect a Soft Story Structure

The first step in any soft-story seismic retrofitting project is to analyze the structure and determine the best way to strengthen the building. One of our foundation experts will have to weigh several factors when deciding the best way to approach the project. Not only do we have to ensure the building will meet the structural standards required of retrofitted buildings, but we also have to minimize the impact on the function and use of the building. As easy as it would be to reinforce buildings by filling their ground floor parking spaces with braces or walling over their picture windows, those are not the best options. Instead, at Point Design Inc., we typically use a few different approaches to complete a soft-story seismic retrofit.

Schedule a Free Inspection

If you own a soft-story structure, Point Design Inc., is offering a free inspection consultation to building owners. To schedule a free inspection consultation with us, please call us at 949-250-0522. A representative will review the information you provide and contact you to schedule your inspection.

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