Earthquake Retrofit | Structural Inspection

structural inspection from retrofit engineers

Since the 2015 LA program of earthquake retrofit, structural inspections are highly recommended for your soft-story buildings - the Los Angeles area is prone to seismic activity and one major step you can take to ensure the safety of the occupants of your building is to get a structural inspection. These types of inspection are useful for repairs after an earthquake and to reinforce your building for future ones. 

Earthquake Retrofit Program

Many owners are unfamiliar with the Los Angeles Earthquake Retrofit Program, have no idea what to expect, or when they need to have this inspection done. Here are the three main reasons that owners call us for their structural inspection:

  • They want to make sure their building is structurally sound for their tenants or employees

  • They are looking to buy a building and want to get it inspected beforehand, or get an estimate for the costs of needed repairs or a retrofit

  • Their building has sustained damage and they want to know how severe it is and what they need to do to repair it and prevent repairs in the future

Structural Inspection

After the major earthquake that hit in 1994, the city updated its building codes and implemented the Los Angeles Earthquake Retrofit Program. Getting a structural inspection is one way to make sure your structure meets the new policies for safety. Here is a shortlist of the things you can expect during your structural inspection:

Roof Inspection

An important part of the inspection is the roof. The structural engineer will check the roof surface, the conditions of the gutters, looking for any leaks, etc. What is entailed with the roof inspection varies from one building to another?

Inside and Outside Of The Building

Both the interior and the exterior will be examined. Things the inspector is looking for include any areas that appear weak, unsound, or are in disrepair.


A building’s frame is often the first place where we find signs of possible instability, either caused by an earthquake or risks of damage in the future. The framing should line up with the building’s foundation in order to maintain structural integrity.


Next to the frame, the foundation is one of the most important areas of any building. This is also the one area that usually shows the most obvious signs of seismic damage. The inspector will look for cracks, check for any movement or other visible signs of distress on the foundation.

Basements or Crawl Spaces

If your building includes a basement, or crawl space, the inspector will check these too. Things they are looking for could include signs of water damage that can weaken the building’s structure, the drainage or water control systems, and checking for any areas that might be prone to flooding.

What Comes After Your Inspection

What Comes After Your Inspection? After the engineer completes the structural inspection they will compile a report for you. If your building meets the current building codes and is structurally sound you will receive the Professional Engineer’s Seal. However, if they find any issues, they will be listed in the report and the engineer will go over what repairs are needed. To schedule a structural inspection for your building and learn more about the Los Angeles Earthquake Retrofit Program, contact us now.

Soft-Story Retrofit Engineering

Your Los Angeles soft-story retrofit engineering process can begin with a call to Army of Builders. One of our seismic engineers will visit your property and provide you with a free initial consultation. After they inspect your building they will contact you to go over all of your retrofitting options.

It is important to know that not all soft-story retrofits are the same. Each building has its own unique needs depending on its age, construction material, and what it is used for. Retrofit engineers look into a variety of options to determine which retrofit engineering process is best for your unique needs. The main goal of any retrofitting project is to make sure your structure will meet all of the Los Angeles city earthquake policies while preserving the building’s original architecture and functionality.

Structural Safety

The building’s structural safety is not the only consideration for our Los Angeles soft-story retrofit engineers. Delivering a project that is cost-effective is also important. Once the best options for your building have been determined, we will create a work plan that uses the best materials and techniques while remaining affordable at current LA prices. The final cost of the project will depend largely on this plan and by being thorough, our engineers won’t miss a thing.
Los Angeles city officials have a huge list of requirements and documents in order for your building to pass the final city inspection. One of these documents is our professional certification. If the application and building plans do not meet the city’s specifications they will be returned for corrections. This tends to slow down the building process and increase the cost to you. Another requirement that most owners are not aware of is the city needs to know your building elevations. Most soft-story buildings were constructed before 1978, so the original plans are likely no longer available. Our engineers can measure these for you and submit the information with the permit application. One more thing you won’t have to worry about.

Our Mission

Here at the Army Of Builders, our mission is to complete your soft-story retrofit using the best construction techniques and materials available while keeping an eye on your bottom dollar. By involving you in every step of the process and tailoring the retrofit to your building’s unique needs, we can ensure your building is structurally safe all delivered at the lowest price possible. We will submit our work plans to you for approval before anything gets sent to the city.
To answer any questions you may have about Los Angeles soft-story retrofit engineering, contact a representative from AOB today.