Beverly Hills Soft-Story Retrofit

Soft-story retrofit policy Beverly Hills

The state of California is known for its sandy and warm beaches, plenty of sightseeing, and Hollywood movies. It is notable that there is no town in the Los Angeles area that has more star power than Beverly Hills. However, just like most of the Los Angeles areas, Beverly Hills’ soft-story retrofit is an actual issue today for the residents and it is under seismic activity risks like many other California cities. Due to this problem, the property owners here are part of the city’s mandated soft-story retrofit program.

Seismic Upgrades and Soft-Story Retrofit

The Northridge Earthquake is well known across the United States and not only. In 1994, most of the Los Angeles area was seriously shaken by this massive earthquake. During the disaster, 60 human lives were lost and many highways and structures were damaged significantly. The disaster became a real reason for seismic upgrades and soft-story retrofit in the area of California - the city officials assessed all the damage and updated their building policies against the future quakes, so they would not cause as much destruction to area structures and people's lives.

The new policy stated that all the buildings that are built before 1994, not should, but must be brought up to the current safety standards, which deadline was by 2020.

If you are a developer or a landlord, then it is your time to get started. Through online searches, you can find a number of services and retrofit companies in the Los Angeles territory. Army Of builders is one of them, which provides services to the city and also a qualified contractor to help with your soft-story retrofit.

Soft-Story Policy

Beverly Hills is the most glamorous and glitz city in the state of California, nevertheless, it is a part of Los Angeles County and it must follow the building codes of the city as well and the soft-story policy. After the well known Northridge in 1994, many types of structures were decided to be retrofitted themselves for better resistance to future seismic activities and massive earthquakes. There is now a soft-story mandatory retrofit program, while it had been taken city officials some time to work out all the details.

A soft-story building has three or more stories and is build over a ground-level which involves open space, for example, rooms above garages, etc. Soft-story is a term, we talked about earlier in the previous article, which is used to describe any building that has habitable spaces and rooms that were not particularly designed to transmit lateral or shear forces to the story on the top of it. The older soft-story buildings do not have enough bottom support to resist major shakings.

Retrofit Contractor in Beverly Hills

There are several possible ways to retrofit a soft-story building. A retrofit contractor in Beverly Hills will be needed to help you determine your options and survey the buildings to decide what will work the best for your individual requirements. The amount of work that is needed to be done completely depends on what the contractor will find in the initial assessment. There may be a need to reinforce or create the number of shear walls at the bottom of a building. Garages are also particularly targeted, for they may need stronger beams for propping up the floors above.

Due to the physical access restrictions to many foundations, some preventable issues tend to go unnoticed until they become more severe and dangerous. Army Of Builders offers simple, effective solutions that protect your home and one of the most essentials of a building - its foundation.

In the last survey, 85% of homes in the most Los Angeles areas that had been attacked by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, were found to have sub-standard retrofit work. If your foundation retrofit is sub-standard, Army Of Builders will provide with you a prescription of correction to bring it to a more up-to-date standard.

Beverly Hills Seismic Retrofit Program Milestones

Properties subject to the Ordinance were identified and given tree level tier designations. A description of each of the associated milestone deadlines and each Tier are listed below. Notices to comply have currently been distributed to property owners with Tier I and Tier II buildings and property owners will receive notices at a future date for the Tier III buildings.


                          MILESTONE TIER I

Buildings with 3+ stories


Buildings with 2 stories, 6+ units


Buildings not included in Tier I or Tier II

Submit Screening Form December 30, 2019 July 6, 2020 January 4, 2021
Submit completed permit application with detailed retrofit plans and structural calculations June 30, 2020 January 5, 2021 July 6, 2021
Obtain all necessary permits for the retrofit of the building June 30, 2021 January 5, 2022 July 6, 2022
Commence construction and schedule required building inspections December 29, 2021 July 6, 2022 January 4, 2023
Complete Construction work under all necessary permits and obtain Final Inspection approval June 30, 2022 January 5, 2023 July 6, 2023


Ordinance For Wood-Frame Multi-family  Buildings In Beverly Hills

Earthquake retrofitting Beverly Hills

In Ordinance 18-O-2767 the Article of the Beverly Hills Municipal Code is for the retrofit of existing wood-frame multi-family buildings in Beverly Hills with soft, weak, and open-front wall. The Screening Report is for providing additional information to determine if a building is in the scope of the ordinance. It also determines if the retrofit is needed or the building is exempt from further evaluation.

According to Ordinance 18-O-2767, Title 9, Chapter 5, Article 4 of the Beverly Hills Municipal Code, the building information will be reviewed by Beverly Hills city officers to determine whether the seismic retrofit is needed. The Screening Form must be prepared by a Design Professional such as Architect or a Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer licensed in the State of California.

Beverly Hills Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Ordinance

The City of Beverly Hills is taking a proactive approach to earthquake safety with the purpose of protecting people and minimizing the damage of vulnerable buildings during a major earthquake. As such, the City has designed its own Beverly Hills mandatory seismic retrofit ordinance intended at strengthening the existing wood-frame multi-family buildings with soft-story conditions.

The new 18-O-2767 ordinance was started to roll out at the City Council meeting in 2018. The ordinance became effective on January 11, 2019, almost after a year.

The new mandatory ordinance targeted the soft-story buildings which are at the highest risks being collapsed and have been identified with the following criteria:

  • All the structures have been built before January 1, 1978, also the structures which are determined by the City Building Official to have been built under building code standards enacted prior to 1978.

  • The basement portion or the ground floor of the structure that contains garages or such kind open floor spaces that can cause soft, weak, or open-front wall lines and there are one and more stories above.

Completing the process

It is a priority to hire a contractor who knows the building codes, the area, and has a history of soft-story retrofits. Once the initial assessments are done, a work plan is being designed and helps you choose the best options to get the job performed according to the needs of buildings. As a property owner, you will have to make important decisions, but your building absolutely needs to follow the updated city codes.

After the plan for the retrofitting has been decided on, the construction works will start. Army Of Builders will work hard and do the best to minimize construction annoyances. It is understood that people will still be living in the area during the retrofit process, and they will want to be disturbed as little as possible.

Once the construction works have been completed, the city engineers will come out to do the final city inspection, for any building needs to pass this inspection as a part of the soft-story retrofit program. Find more questions in our Earthquake Retrofitting FAQs article.