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Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit Process

Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit Process

Los Angeles residents have been expecting a major one for many years. For newcomers to the area, this refers to the next big earthquake to hit the area. After the damage done from the earthquake in 1994, city officials have been trying to find a way to minimize the damage and save lives in future quakes. In 2015, city officials passed Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 to create standards for soft-story buildings that are most vulnerable during seismic activity. These ordinances are part of the Los Angeles Soft-Story Building Retrofit Program, which is mandatory for most property owners.

Los Angeles Department of Building Safety

The City of Los Angeles Department of Building Safety has been assessing the city in order to decide which structures would be the most vulnerable when a major earthquake strikes. After two years, they have compiled a list of over 13,000 buildings that meet their criteria. The deadline for the Soft-Story Retrofit Program states that owners have until the year 2022 to have their retrofit completed. Most of the buildings on this list are large apartment complexes with tuck-under parking spaces, these features are commonly found in soft-story buildings.

If you don’t know what makes up a soft-story building, here is the basic definition. Any building with three or more stories that have a ground floor with a large open space, like a parking garage, qualifies. These unobstructed spaces do not have a shear wall which makes them very unstable during an earthquake. The upper floors tend to collapse down on top of themselves and once this happens the building cannot be repaired.
A large number of apartment buildings in Los Angeles were built after World War ll when the city saw rapid expansion. But the designs and materials during that time were not what they are today. Technology has advanced both the quality and durability of the materials used, as well as the construction technique found in most retrofits. Any building constructed between 1950 and 1980, does not meet the new seismic ordinances and will need to be retrofitted in order to be safer when the next earthquake hits.

The Process For Completing An Earthquake Retrofit

The process for completing an earthquake retrofit isn’t too difficult to understand, however, it does take a fair amount of time. You will need to find a qualified seismic engineer to inspect your building and determine what areas need to be updated. Finding the right company that specializes in soft-story retrofits will save you time, money and a lot of headaches. Army Of Builders has professional engineers and contractors on staff who will guide you through the whole process. They will handle everything from the initial inspection to obtaining permits, to making sure your property passes the city inspection at the end.
If you did not receive a notice from the city and want to know if you should consider a Los Angeles Soft-Story Building Retrofit, contact AOB now. One of our experienced staff members will schedule a free consultation for you to ask any questions you have.

At-Risk Structures Needed Retrofitting

So you found your building on Los Angeles’ list of at-risk structures and want to know about the soft-story retrofit process? Then continue reading as we walk you through the process, but first, let’s see how you ended up on this retrofit list. After the last major earthquake left much of the city devastated, city officials conducted an assessment to determine how to avoid this destruction in the future.

They compiled a list of all of the buildings that they deemed unsafe, or unable, to withstand the next earthquake. A whopping 13,500 buildings made this list, most of the apartment complexes. In 2015, the Department of Building Safety issued two new ordinances, 183893 and 184081, and the mandatory Soft-Story Retrofit Program began. The owners of the buildings on the city’s list were all sent orders to comply and were given a deadline for doing so. If you were one of them, here is what you need to do to get your retrofit completed in time.

Step by Step Process

The very first thing you should do is find a reliable retrofitting company to work with. Many of them exist in Los Angeles, but a good place to start is the Army Of Builders. Their professional contractors have completed a number of these projects already and know exactly what it takes to bring your building up to code. Our service will provide a free initial consultation. You will meet one of their professional contractors and seismic engineer who will go over everything with you. The engineer will inspect your building and create a detailed plan for the repairs needed. At the second meeting, they will go over your options and provide you with a report that covers work to be done, a timeline for completing it, and an estimate of the cost.

Obtaining Permits

Army Of Builders will submit all of the paperwork the city requires to obtain the permits you need before the remaining steps of the soft-story retrofit process can take place. On average, it takes about 38 days before permits are issued. A work plan needs to with this documentation so a city official can make sure it meets the current building codes. The documentation will also include an application and a plan check fee. Sometimes the city sends the plan back for corrections, but our professional staff creates these plans diligently so that this won’t happen. While you are waiting for the permit you should file the Tenant Habitability Plan with the Department of Housing. This can be done on the internet and is usually approved within five business days. The law states that you must give your tenants a 25-day notice telling them of the work that is going to be done to the building. This allows them to make other arrangements and ask any questions they may have. Your building permit will not be issued if this step is skipped.

Estimated Costs

These costs do not include the actual cost of the construction. These are just an estimate of the fees the city charges to check your plans and for the permits. Apartment complexes with 8-12 units average around $850 – $1200. Large structures or buildings can expect to pay $3,000 – $5,500.
At first, getting your building retrofitted can seem quite daunting. But our service will be there with you every step of the way. Their experienced staff will complete most of the items that are listed here, so you won’t have to deal with city officials or learn confusing building codes. To get your soft-story retrofit process started today to contact the Army of Builders.