You need a soft story retrofit on your building because soft-story buildings are multi-story buildings characterized by a ground floor or lower floors that are significantly "less stiff" (thus they're called "soft stories") than the upper floors they support. In a soft-story building, the lower levels do not have enough shear walls or other elements (e.g. steel frames) to help the structure withstand lateral (side-to-side) earthquake movements. So earthquake retrofitting is needed.
Examples of soft stories in need of a retrofit:
Ground or lower floors that have been turned into tuck-under parking without appropriate reinforcements. Tuck-under parking lots, by their very nature, have large open spaces with minimal divisions. Thus, tuck-under parking floors could have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls.
Ground or lower floors turned into office floors, where individual offices are divided by glass partitions.
Ground or lower floors with sweeping, floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Request a soft-story inspection.
The Sinai crew cutting out old foundation to begin a soft story retrofit on this building
The basic construction process of a soft story retrofit project
First, the original soft story buildings foundation is precision cut and cleanly removed. Previous inspections, permits and engineering plans insures our heavy duty concrete saws do not cut into electrical or water lines.
Second, a trench is dug, special care is taken to avoid underground pipes and any electrical that may be under the foundation. Rebar is installed, along with a steel frame that connects the soft story building to the new fortified concrete foundation.
Third, after steel frame is installed that connects the soft story building to the new fortified footings, concrete is poured, and the new concrete foundation is finished. When Sinai is done, the owners will be happy to know, this Soft Story LA Building will be as solid as a rock when the next earthquake hits.
Over 19,000 soft Story buildings in LA
According to a Caltech survey, there are more than 19,000 soft-story buildings in Los Angeles in need of soft-story retrofitting / home earthquake retrofitting. If you own an old, multi-story residential or commercial building in Los Angeles, your property might need a soft-story retrofit to make your building earthquake safe.
If you don't have a Soft Story Building, a Home Seismic Retrofit or House Earthquake Retrofit may be what you need. Or after an Foundation Health Check by a Foundation Expert, it may be determined a simple House Bolting project could provide you enough earthquake protection to feel safe and secure.
Soft story buildings in LA are a hazard
New soft story retrofit foundation is dug and fortified with rebar and steel frame is in place.
Soft stories are an earthquake hazard and they could lead to a very substantial loss of investment, profit and lives. If the sideways movement during an earthquake is particularly strong, the weak supports in the soft stories could give way. This, in turn, would cause the upper floors to fall onto the lower floors, thereby crushing whatever or whoever is on those lower levels. This type of structural failure is known as "pancake collapse."
The risk of soft-story-induced pancake collapse during an earthquake became glaringly obvious when the 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Northridge in 1994. At that time, more than 20,000 soft-story buildings were gravely damaged or went down like a house of cards and 33 persons lost their lives.
If your Los Angeles building has soft stories, do some research on soft story retrofit companies, find one you like, and get a earthquake retrofit as soon as possible. Feel free to contact Sinai, and one of our specialized Soft Story Retrofit Contractors will get back to you on your soft story structure retrofit plans.
Here's a couple of Soft Story Retrofit Financial reasons why prompt action is advised:
Minimize liability losses
You could be liable for damages worth millions of dollars if your soft story building collapses during an earthquake and causes injury or death to tenants or innocent bystanders. This has already happened in Paso Robles, where the jury awarded almost $2 million in damages to the families of 2 women killed in a soft story collapse during an earthquake in 2003.
Earthquake scientists predict that there is a 99.9% chance of a 7-magnitude quake hitting Los Angeles in the next decade or so. If this earthquake strikes before you've had a chance to retrofit your residential or commercial building, many lives could be lost and massive property damage could result. Since Los Angeles codes state that building owners are liable for any loss of life and damage to property within their buildings, you could end up facing enormous liability losses.
One may argue, of course, that insurance exists to protect a building owner from liability in case his or her building collapses during an earthquake and injures people and damages tenants' property. Even so, doesn't it make sense to retrofit and thus prevent major losses instead of simply waiting for the worst and then relying on insurance to make things right?
In the midst of post-earthquake chaos, with building owners clamoring for insurance coverage right after the quake, you'd be very glad you decided to retrofit. Contact Sinai Soft Story Retrofit Contractors today.
The steel frame attaching the soft story building to the foundation is in place.
Soft story retrofit can save you money
It's generally less expensive to retrofit (and thus prevent damage due to an earthquake) than to repair earthquake damage. Save money by having a soft-story retrofit done before the next earthquake.
Lower earthquake insurance premiums
If you earthquake retrofit your Los Angeles soft-story building, the lower your earthquake insurance premiums are likely to be. Your earthquake insurance underwriter will probably decide you have low potential exposure (i.e. that you're a low-risk client) because your building has been reinforced to protect it from earthquake damage.
Save on interest
A loan taken out on a soft-story building is likely to have a higher interest rate than a loan taken out on a properly reinforced soft story building. The logic is simple. Structurally sound soft story retrofit buildings in Los Angeles make good collateral, while structurally weak ones pose a great risk to the lender. What if an earthquake demolishes or seriously damages the building before the loan is paid off? The lender will be left with a worthless (or nearly worthless) piece of property as security.
Building owners are required by law to disclose their buildings' seismic vulnerability to prospective tenants — so if you don't retrofit, you could scare tenants away. On the other hand, if you soft story retrofit, the fact that your LA building has been earthquake retrofitted may be used as an additional marketing/selling point. You could also command higher rent prices.
In the end, it's all about ROI
According to Caltech's survey, the benefit-to-cost ratio of a soft story retrofit could be as much as 7:1 — and since there's a 99% probability of a big quake hitting Los Angeles in the next 10 years you'll sleep better knowing your building is safe.
The Sinai construction team in the process of another soft story retrofit concrete pour in Los Angeles.
After the soft story building has the steel frame in place and the foundation poured, our Sinai crew will finish up and you will never know we were ever there.
Another soft story retrofit Los Angeles project finishes up A clients soft story retrofit review
Thank you very much for all the hard work you have done these past several weeks to make our home's foundation & den ceiling more structurally safe & sound! We truly appreciate your efforts in doing a thorough job making our home earthquake safe as well as accommodating the extra things we've requested along the way.
Sincerely, The Valdez Family, Los Angeles