Seismic Retrofit Blog

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 ...

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
05
Will the Retrofit Ordinance Protect My Building? | Cantilevered Column System Deficiencies


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Cantilever Column Systems Aren't Always the Best Solution




When the city of Los Angeles passed ordinance 183893 and 184081 back in 2015, the goal was to prevent the loss of life during an earthquake by preventing the collapse of “soft story” apartment buildings. As a result, thousands of building owners in the city of Los Angeles received a Notice to Comply letter in the mail, letting them know they need to seismically retrofit their buildings. Shear Walls, Cantilever Columns (SCCS/OCCS), and Moment Frames (OMF/SMF) are being used to strengthen these structures … but which solution is best? Cantilever Column Systems have become the “go-to” when property owners ...


Mar
05
Soft Story Retrofit: 3 Retrofit Construction Methods and How it Affects Costs

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The top 3 methods used to retrofit "soft story" buildings.



Three Retrofit Construction Methods & How it Affects Costs



If you own a rental property in Los Angeles it’s likely a soft-story. They are hard to avoid in Southern California, it’s the typical apartment building that has parking directly underneath the apartments. You may have received an Order to Comply (or “OTC”) letter from the City of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, or West Hollywood notifying your building requires a Soft-Story retrofit. Knowing that your property does not comply with the latest retrofit ordinances can give you some anxiety, but not knowing how much a retrofit can cost will give you insomnia. Y...


Mar
04
How Much Does a Small Soft-Story Retrofit Cost Using Only Shear Walls?


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Shear Panels are the most affordable solution. But are they right for you?




How Much Does a Small Soft-Story Retrofit Cost Using Only Shear Walls?



The soft-story retrofit programs of Los Angeles and Santa Monica are well underway, and by now several property owners have already finished their retrofit projects. Luckily for those that own smaller buildings, a small soft-story retrofit repair can cost as little as $18,000 to $25,000.


Small apartment buildings with small openings will only require the installation of plywood shear walls or steel shear panels. In this small article, we will cover the cost of a soft-story retrofit repair that only utilizes shear walls as the solution. We will brie...


Mar
04
Soft Story Retrofit: Seismic Ordinances Might Get Tougher in 2019




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Ordinances Might Get Tougher in 2019.




The entire soft-story retrofit process is long, complex, and involves several people. You’ll encounter structural engineers, draftsmen, city engineers, city clerks, general contractors, and other construction professionals. As a professional general contractor, I’ve made the commitment to give all my customers the best service in Southern California, and in order to do so I’ve attended several seminars and symposiums. This week I want to share the experience I had this summer at the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) Convention in beautiful Palm Desert, CA. SEAOC is the premiere professional association for struct...