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Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Experts

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los angeles soft story retrofit experts

Why every Los Angeles Soft Story Building Needs a Soft Story Retrofit...

If your building is a multi-story building, characterized by a ground floor or lower floors that are significantly "less stiff" (yep, that's why they're called "soft stories") than the upper floors they support, then you're the owner of a Los Angeles soft story building that needs some work.

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 shaking movements.

Here's some examples of soft story buildings:

1. Ground or lower floors that have been converted into tuck-under parking without appropriate reinforcements. By design, Tuck-under parking lots have large open spaces with minimal divisions. This is a problem when the tuck-under parking floors have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls.

2. Ground or lower floors turned into office floors, where individual offices are divided by glass partitions. Again, this is a problem when the floors have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls.

3. Ground or lower floors with sweeping, floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Yep, you guessed it, it's a problem. It may look pretty but when the floors have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls, you're gonna have earthquake issues.

Do You Have to do a Soft Story Retrofit?

If you have received an Order from the City of Los Angeles, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to do a soft story retrofit for your building. If so, then this is what you need to do:

FIRST hire a licensed professional soft story retrofit engineer – civil or structural engineer to conduct a structural evaluation of your building.

This licensed investigation by a professional engineer will determine if the Los Angeles ordinance does or does not require retrofit of your building.

Note: Failure to comply with the ordinance is a misdemeanor, and could result in prosecution and/or administrative enforcement under the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

If it turns out you need to do a soft story retrofit, how much time do you have?

From the time of the service of the order, a plan and engineering report in Los Angeles must be submitted to the city within 2 years, a permit obtained within 3.5 years, and construction completed, or building demolished, within 7 years.

If you need help with this, you can call Sinai at 323-655-0960 and one of our engineers will help determine if a soft story retrofit is required on your building.

How much will a soft story retrofit cost?

The costs will vary depending on the scope of the project. There are many factors to take into account, size and complexity of the building are just two. 

We recommend (unless you know a professional soft story retrofit engineer or are able to get a positive referral from someone you trust) you get some proposals / estimates from at least two firms.


On that note, no matter who you decide to talk to, it's important to make sure you verify their Los Angeles license, look over their resume to confirm qualifications, and retain a signed copy of their certificate of insurance issued by their insurance agency before signing any agreement.

How long will my soft story retrofit building project take?

The construction schedule will depend on many unique factors to your project and vary from project one project to another.  The bottom line is, you'll need to hire a Los Angeles general contractor with experience in this type of project to provide you this information. Trust your engineer for guidance, but not for figuring out costs.

FYI: There's in the neighborhood of about 13,500 wood-framed, soft-story apartment buildings in Los Angeles that were cited by Los Angeles building inspectors as potentially in need of a soft story retrofit. But until today, the people living in them had no idea if that they were living in a potential earthquake disaster. But fortunately, there's a long list that the LA Times compiled that lets renters see if their apartment buildings need earthquake retrofits.

This list will be of special interest  to renters who are living in the cited buildings. Not just because their safety is at risk, but their finances as well. New housing in Los Angeles is not keeping up with the growing demand, and believe me, the city can't afford to lose any of its increasingly precious rental units to another earthquake.


Damage from the 1994 earthquake took 49,000 apartment units off the market in a single morning. A similar event could happen again, and could be catastrophic for the Los Angeles rental market, driving rental prices sky high.

los angeles soft story retrofit experts

Why Your Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit needs to Be Done as Soon as You Can...

Soft stories are an earthquake hazard. Always have been and always will.  And ignoring their vulnerability could lead to a very substantial loss of investment, profit and possibly, yes, lives.


Here's the Soft story building problem.

When the sideways movement of your building during an earthquake is particularly strong, the weak soft story supports, and how they're connected can give way.


It's called the "PANCAKE COLLAPSE". When the soft story supports fail and the upper floors fall onto the lower floors, you get the pancake collapse. The result is whatever or whoever is on those lower levels, are crushed. This is what a Sinai soft story retrofit prevents.

The soft story pancake collapse risk. During an earthquake became painfully apparent to thousands of people when the 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Northridge in 1994. In this earthquake, more than 20,000 soft-story buildings were gravely damaged or collapsed like a house made out of match sticks. And 33 people did lose their lives.

If your building has soft stories, feel free to talk to one of our Sinai soft story retrofit experts here in Los Angeles. They can answer all your questions and help you get the ball rolling. Better safe than sorry.


*In the meantime, here's some more reasons to think about a Sinai soft story retrofit as soon as possible.

1. Minimize liability losses

If your building goes down during an earthquake and causes injury or death to tenants or some innocent bystanders, you could be liable for damages worth millions of dollars.


This is something to take seriously. In Paso Robles, 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.

Scientists who are in the business of predicting earthquakes say that there's a 99.9% chance of a 7-magnitude quake hitting Los Angeles in the next decade or so. Here's the problem, if this earthquake strikes before you've had a chance to do a soft story retrofit on your residential or commercial building, lives could be lost and massive property damage a real possibility.


DID YOU KNOW: Los Angeles codes state that building owners are liable for any loss of life and damage to property within their buildings, and you could end up facing enormous liability losses if your soft story structure fails.

So, you could argue, that's why insurance exists. To protect you, the building owner from liability in case your building collapses because of an earthquake, injuring people and damaging tenants' property. Even so, doesn't it make sense to do a soft story retrofit on your Los Angeles building and prevent major losses.


Waiting for the worst and then relying on insurance to make things right is risky.

Imagine yourself in the midst of post-earthquake chaos, your among a horde of building owners clamoring for insurance coverage right after the quake, it's not a pretty picture. Better to do a soft story retrofit today, you'll sleep a lot better later.

2. Save money.

You'll save time and money by doing a soft-story retrofit before a disaster. It's safe to say, it's less time and expense to retrofit  now (and prevent earthquake damage) than to wait and repair earthquake damage later.

3. Lower earthquake premiums.

When you do a soft-story retrofit to your building, the lower your earthquake insurance premiums are likely to be. Talk to your earthquake insurance underwriter, they can tell you how much you'll save by getting a soft story retrofit on your building. In the world of insurance, it's always better to be a low-risk client than a high risk one.

4. Save on interest.

Lets say you want to take out a loan on your Los Angeles property. Well, a loan taken out on a soft-story building is likely to have a much higher interest rate than a loan taken out on a building that has been soft story retrofitted. It makes sense. Structurally sound buildings are good collateral, while structurally weak ones pose a big risk to the lender.


If an earthquake demolishes or seriously damages your building before the loan is paid off? What happens? I'll tell you what, the lender will be left with a much less valuable piece of Los Angeles property as security. No lender wants that.

5. Attract tenants.

Did you know in Los Angeles, as a building owner you're required by law to disclose your buildings seismic vulnerability to prospective tenants. Not doing a soft story retrofit could scare tenants away. But on the other hand, if you do a soft story retrofit, that fact can be used as an additional marketing/selling point. You could also command higher rent prices. And as you know, that means a bigger profit for you.


1. Sinai Construction: We want you to know we're the Los Angeles experts in many areas of construction besides soft story retrofit. Feel free to check out Sinai Construction at or click on any of the links below that may interest you.

Sinai Soft Story Retrofit Los Angeles Resources...

2. Aim Higher Construction: this is the Los Angeles general contractor arm of Sinai Soft Story Retrofit.  Check us out at or click on any links below that interest you.

Los Angeles soft story retrofit experts

Why You Should Consider Sinai for your Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Project... 

Sinai Soft Story Retrofit is a specialty division of Sinai Construction Engineering.  Over 30 years of satisfied customers in soft story retrofit projects has turned us into the premier foundation repair company in Los Angeles.

We're the most EXPERIENCED soft story retrofit contractor in Los Angeles. This is not wishful thinking, it's fact! If you want to do your homework, check out our California State License Number (457238). You'll discover we are truly the oldest in structural and soft story retrofit foundation repair company in Los Angeles, and for good reason. We don’t cut any corners. We don’t take any shortcuts. We do it once, and we do it right.

FAST turnaround — report in 24 hours.

When you make the decision to do a soft story retrofit, you want to get the ball moving as fast as possible. You want to make it as easy and painless for your tenants as possible. So do we.  We submit our inspection findings and proposal within 24 hours. That means you can decide faster and get your Los Angeles soft story retrofit foundation project moving much quicker.

SECURITY equals peace of mind.

Letting strangers on to your property is always a concern. But rest assured, every one of our employees undergoes a thorough background check before they join our team. Your business is safe with Sinai. When you allow us access to your property you'll never find anything out of place. All you'll find is a neat and tidy job site, progressing on time and on budget, as promised.


Ask around. Our clients all have one thing in common, they're happy, and for one very good reason, our extraordinary service. And that's why we were the recipient of the 2015 Angie's List Super Service Award (an award we've earned 5 consecutive years now). We've also received the Talk of the Town Award in 2014, 2012 & 2011.

These awards have a lot to do with our exceptional soft story retrofit crew. When they start a project, they remain on schedule. Our Sinai teams don't jump from project to project.  Once they start a Los Angeles soft story retrofit project they stick with it to completion. Arriving on time, being polite and working as quietly as possible is our goal.  And as far as DAILY CLEAN UPS go, that's in our DNA. At Sinai, we pride ourselves on a well organized and tidy job site.


Our soft story retrofit work stands the test of time. We guarantee it. Everyone of our clients gets a 25-year, transferable warranty on all structural work. Yes, you heard that right, if  you decide to sell your property we still honor the warranty. We can do this because we have absolute confidence in the quality of our soft story retrofit work. Our field personnel are soft story retrofit, foundation, and drainage professionals. We have rigorous internal quality checks (that's right, we constantly are checking each others work on the job) to ensure that plans are followed to the letter. And when the job is near completion, we again evaluate the soft story retrofit work to ensure that it is in line with our high standards and quality guidelines.


Not a ballpark price that is always changing. With a Sinai soft story retrofit project, there are no expensive surprises. Because our proposals contain precise pricing information. We don't low ball the estimate initially, then halt the project midway because costs that should have been anticipated are piling up so quickly. With Sinai you know what you're getting into right up front. No surprises.

Even in situations involving unknown variables that could lead to changes in the scope of work, we still strive to give you a real world sense of just how much you may actually have to spend on your Los Angeles soft story retrofit project. We are masters at anticipating possible scenarios, approximating potential major expenses, so you are never caught unprepared.


Not only are we the premier soft story retrofit contractor in Los Angeles, we are one of the most affordable foundation contractors in Southern California. Just get an estimate from us and and go line-by-line and item-by-item, comparing our proposal to others you have gotten. Soon you'll realize just how much value you're getting with Sinai.


With a Sinai soft story retrofit project, we'll tell things as they are, even if it's something you don't want to hear. In other words, if a Sinai report says the problem is serious, it is. If a Sinai report says the problem exists, it does. If a Sinai report says you can't do some repairs without doing some other repairs first, you can't.


At Sinai we don't sugarcoat things. If the project looks expensive, we're gonna tell you now, not later when you're at the point of no return. Likewise, if your Los Angeles soft story retrofit structure requires only minor work, or even no work at all, we'll tell you. You can count on it.

Yes, we might lose your business by doing this, but this is how we work. We have a  strict code of ethics that we  stand by.  Letting you waste good money on work you don't need or repairs that won't work or last is not the way we do business.


Our experience runs deep, and our expertise runs deeper.  We've seen it all, and solved it all. Sinai has a General Engineering Contractors License and a General Contractors License. We have also added a soils and structural engineer on our team.

Our soft story retrofit projects include some pretty standard Los Angeles public works projects. But more and more we get called to work on extremely complex builds. When other construction professionals need a soft story retrofit foundation contractor with extensive experience and highly specialized skills in structural and concrete work, they call us. Just goes to show you, when you do something right, word gets around.

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