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Retrofit Pros Learning Center

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Unintended Consequence

The systemic misuse of the cantilevered column system may affect thousands of already retrofitted 'soft-story' apartment buildings in Los Angeles. Read More...

best soft story retrofit contractor in los angeles - soft story retrofit pros - what is a cantilevered column

My Problem with Cantilevered Columns

Cantilevered Columns have become the "go-to" solution for soft-story apartment buildings that need a seismic retrofit, but are they the best solution? Read More...

Doing the Bare Minimum

What are the biggest mistakes property owners, contractors, and engineers, make on their retrofit projects? They don't do enough, they do less. Read More...

Resources to help you learn more 

The soft-story retrofit process can be confusing, especially for owners of multiple apartment buildings, our team developed this website as a learning center for people that want to learn more about the complex seismic retrofit process. It takes an entire team of draftsmen, structural engineers, project managers, and general contractors to develop a customized yet comprehensive solution that truly protects your soft-story building in the event of a major earthquake. 

If you own a property in any of the cities below we can help you protect your building:

Los Angeles, CA

Santa Monica, CA

West Hollywood, CA

Beverly Hills, CA

Pasadena, CA

Burbank, CA

Glendale, CA

Torrance, CA

Downey, CA

Hawthorne, CA

Inglewood, CA


"When the City of Los Angeles and the City, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood passed their respective soft-story retrofit ordinances, the intention was to make the structures safer by preventing building collapses, using a life-safety standard. An additional benefit would have been to improve the City’s resilience (it's ability to get back to normal) after a major seismic event. There are an estimated 150,000+ housing in soft story structures in the City of Angeles..."f5cd2c



"After working on dozens of “soft story” dingbat apartment buildings built in the 50s and 60s, one thing has become abundantly clear, not enough is being done to ensure a there is a seamless connection between new components and the existing structure. It is my belief that the current 'value engineering' trend in soft story retrofit designs has produced plans that are inadequate and deficient. The connections between the new cantilever column systems are not large enough..."



"These apartment buildings are a major component of the community It is important for property owners to realize that that the soft story retrofit ordinance requires a ‘minimum life safety standard’ (prevent structural collapse). This means that a retrofitted building could still suffer significant damage during an earthquake and could possibly be red-tagged. Sadly, many of the retrofit solutions that I have seen are don’t do enough to fully protect the structure."

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You have questions? We have answers - retrofit faq

Not sure what a soft-story building is? Our FAQ building helps explain Los Angeles Ordinance 183893 & 184081 that make seismic retrofits mandatory for apartment buildings. Learn what a soft-story building looks like and what makes them weak.

How do you retrofit a soft story building? 

Once your plans are approved it's time to build your retrofit solution, but how is it done? In this video we visit our Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit project and we help explain all the structural components needed to build a superior retrofit solution. Learn what it takes to build a stronger building. 

How much Does a Seismic Retrofit Cost?

The questions every property owners wants to know - How much will their retrofit project cost? Our full-length retrofit webinar helps explain all the costs associated with a seismic retrofit and how much you can expect to pay for your retrofit.


Reinforced concrete plays an integral role in retrofit process, together with steel rebar it creates a strong fortified foundation for your building. In this video we visit our Harbor City Soft-Story retrofit project. Learn just how much concrete is needed when retrofitting a large apartment building.

soft story retrofits faq

Why are Soft-Story Retrofits Required?

Soft story retrofitting in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood are not just recommended, they are required by Law! Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood now have the nation's toughest seismic building codes in the nation.. Los Angeles City Soft Story retrofit Ordinance 183893 and 184081 detail which structures are affected. The city of West Hollywood passed Ordinance 17-1004 and Ordinance 17-1011 bringing new seismic requirements for seismic retrofitting within their municipality. This year the city council of Santa Monica passed Ordinance 2537 to require seismic retrofitting of buildings that are at-risk of collapsing during an earthquake. Soft-Story Retrofit Pros has been a California licensed contractor for more than 15 years. We pride ourselves as your learning center when considering a major construction project.

What is Ordinance 183893?

Los Angeles City Soft Story retrofit Ordinance 183893 and 184081 detail which structures are affected. Soft story structures designed and approved prior to 1979 are considered weak by current engineering standards. A considerable amount of soft story buildings were constructed between 1960 – 1979. These structures have the propensity of experiencing catastrophically damaged in the event of a major earthquake. Soft story structures have failed during significant seismic activity. They are weak because they have un-reinforced openings on the ground floor which caused far more movement than the structure can withstand. When this happens, resulting in the upper floors COLLAPSING on top of the lower levels.

What is a Soft-Story Building?

Soft-story buildings are multi-story structures that have open ground floors (windows, wide doors, large commercial space, or open parking) where shear walls would normally be, thus making them weak. A soft-story apartment building is easily identifiable because of the "tuck-in" parking many of them have on the ground floor. They are also known as dingbats or stucco boxes.

What is a Soft-Story Retrofit?

The weakest parts of the building are structurally reinforced to be able to resist seismic movement during an earthquake. In many cases structural steel connectors and heavy steel (cantilevered column/moment frame) is installed. In most cases gluelam beams and steel connection hardware are used to carry strengthen the weak sections of a structure.

How Long do I Have to Comply?

According to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety Property Owners Guide, you need to submit proof of previous retrofit, plans to retrofit, or plans to demolish within 2 years of receiving the Order to Comply. This might be different for West Hollywood and Santa Monica, so you’ll want to make sure to check your notice letter. As of December 2018 - all notice letters for the city of Los Angeles have been mailed out. Did you NOT receive a notice letter? We have access to the entire soft-story retrofit list - call us and we will let you know if you are on the list.

Why You Need a Team of Pros

Soft Story Retrofit Pros has been serving the South Bay region of Los Angeles for over 15 years. We are a California Licensed General Contractor that can help you with all your seismic retrofitting needs. Our team of Pros can provide architectural and engineering services, project management, and even interior design. Together we bring decades worth of experience to complete your seismic retrofit project on time and on budget.

A soft story retrofit is large and complex; you’ll want a team of experienced pros to support you every step of the way. Our turn-key project service ensures that all required paperwork and permits are filled out by our team, so you have nothing to worry about. When the seismic retrofit construction is completed your building will comply to seismic ordinances and will be ready for the next earthquake in Southern California. If you are ready to speak to a California Licensed General Contractor about your soft story retrofit, you can schedule a conversation by scheduling a conversation below.

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