Seismic Retrofit Blog

Nov
25
What is a Brace+Bolt Retrofit? How to Protect Your Home from Earthquakes

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Protecting Your Home from Earthquakes is Easier than Ever.


We all know that California is ‘Earthquake Country’, but did you know that nearly every neighborhood in Los Angeles is near an earthquake fault? In fact according to the Southern California Earthquake Center (Plesch, 2007) there are over 140 active faults in Southern California. Nervous? Don’t be, you can protect your home with a Seismic Retrofit. If your home has a raised foundation and was built before the 1970s, a Brace + Bolt Seismic Retrofit might be right for you. Our short article will help explain what a Seismic Retrofit is, how long the installation will take, and why retrofitting your foundation is a smart ...


Nov
01
Pro vs Amateur - Selecting a Soft-Story Contractor | How to Avoid Getting Scammed


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Lots of people are doing retrofits - avoid scammers, snake oil salesmen, and grifters.




When the Los Angeles City Council adopted the “Mandatory Seismic Retrofit” ordinance 183893 in 2016 it created a boom in construction worth upwards of $1.2 Billion dollars. This has triggered a manic gold rush frenzy in freshly minted would-be contractors that did not exist a few years ago. You can tell they are newcomers because their Contractors License No. starts at 100XXX. I have witnessed many cases where contractors pose as a “retrofit expert” but have had a CSLB license for less 6 months, and I’ve seen other cases where the wannabe “expert” doesn’t ev...


Oct
28
Seismic Retrofits for 'Soft-Story' Buildings | What I've Learned After Three Years.

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It's been three years since we started retrofitting soft-story buildings, here's what we've learned so far.


A few years ago the city of Los Angeles passed Ordinance 183893 & 184081 to require seismic retrofits for Wood-Frame Apartment Buildings with 'Soft Story' (Soft, Weak, Open-Front) features. A short time after that my company began to work on 'Soft Story' seismic retrofit projects after my Structural Engineer approached me with a retrofit project. After years of working together, my engineer remarked: "I know your work... you should look into this soft-story retrofitting ordinance in LA".



"I know your work... you should look into this soft-story retrofitting ordinance in LA"




Since then ...

Jul
18
Bargain Retrofits: The Ugly Truth About Seismic Retrofits in Los Angeles


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How thousands of low-quality seismic retrofit projects are being built across Los Angeles





In the last three years, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several seismic retrofit projects with my company ‘Soft-Story Retrofit Pros’ and we’ve built numerous retrofit projects that we feel confident about. But when I take a look at other soft-story buildings being retrofitted I often notice shoddy work and lots of damage like termite damage or dry rot that is left in place, completely disregarding the need to repair all these wood-frame elements.




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Bad-quality retrofit project in West Los Angeles, CA.




When the city of Los Angeles passed ordinance 183893 it did so in an effo...


Jun
28
Soft-Story Retrofit | Los Angeles Retrofit Deadlines

 


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If you own a soft-story building in Southern California then you are well aware that the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood legally require seismic retrofits for soft-story buildings. The distinctive design of tuck-in parking on the ground floor makes soft-story buildings especially vulnerable during seismic activity, making them prone to collapse. The first kind of soft-story retrofit ordinance was passed by the city of Los Angeles in 2015, Santa Monica quickly followed suit in 2016, and West Hollywood joined the efforts in 2017. This year both Beverly Hills and Pasadena have begun to count how many at-risk buildings can be identified within their municipalities.


No...


Jun
28
Pasadena Approves Seismic Retrofit Ordinance


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Ordinance No. 7345 passes First & Second Reading.




California is the land of many faults, earthquake faults that is. That's why so many cities in Southern California have recently passed local ordinances to require the seismic retrofit of vulnerable "soft story" apartment buildings. We now have another city that has navigated the gauntlet of public scrutiny and passed a mandatory earthquake retrofit ordinance, the city council of Pasadena officially adopted Ordinance 7345 on May 20, 2019. The ordinance is set to go into effect on June 24, 2019. Pasadena joins the city of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood in passing a seismic retrofit ordinance. These types of laws stir up controv...


Jun
13
Making Soft Story Buildings Perform: What about more lumber?


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Adding more lumber is the key.




Adding more lumber is the key.


It’s been four years since the Los Angeles City Council passed Ordinance 183893 back in 2015, and since then thousands of apartment buildings have been retrofitted. Since then my team has only retrofitted a handful of buildings in West LA, but I’ve seen over 100 sets of plans to bid on and frankly, some of them do not pass muster. While all of these plans include the use of heavy structural steel, the majority of them do not include the use of diaphragm framing or the addition of lumber to reinforce the existing wood-frame.




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Seismic Retrofit Project in West Los Angeles





In this article, I want to cover some technical ...


Apr
01
Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit Best Practices - Building Won't Fall, Building Won't Break



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Not all retrofits are created equal - see how we build BETTER retrofit solutions.





As a retrofit contractor that specializes in soft-story buildings, I see lots of engineering plans that have been designed by other companies. Every day property owners send me their drawings with the intention of getting a construction quote, they want to know just how much their soft-story retrofit will cost to build. Sometimes I have to be the bearer of bad news - I can't tell you how frustrated they get when they find out that their plans will not work as designed. Their plans have a series of shortcomings, they won't do enough to protect the structure in the event of a major earthquake. The most common ...


Mar
14
Unintended Consequences | The Systemic Misuse of the Cantilever Columns May Affect Thousands of Soft Story Buildings



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Will the LA Retrofit Program have unintended consequences?




 



As we enter the fourth year of the Los Angeles soft-story retrofit program, some of the most prominent Structural Engineers (SE & PE) are asking themselves “What the heck is going on?”. There has been a recent trend amongst engineers that are working on soft-story retrofits by using Cantilevered Column Systems (CCS) on apartment buildings of all sizes, often misusing them. Many retrofit contractors promise owners thousands in savings by using Cantilevered Columns instead of a Moment Frame system



Rampant Misuse of CCS


The cantilever column was developed to be a “stop-gap measure”, intended for it to be used o...


Mar
07
Soft Story Retrofit Mistakes | Doing the Bare Minimum


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What are the biggest mistakes contractors, engineers, and building owners make on their retrofit project?





Soft Story Retrofit Mistakes in Los Angeles


What are the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with soft-story buildings? They try to solve the wrong problem – But How? When the city of Los Angeles passed ordinance 183893 and 184081 to require seismic retrofit for older buildings with ‘tuck in’ parking, many property owners described it as an “unreasonable burden”.



Property owners think that they have a ‘compliance problem’ and that they must comply with the retrofit ordinance, when in fact they have a ‘health and safety problem’...