Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Construction
SOME LOS ANGELES SOFT STORY RETROFIT CONSTRUCTION ADVICE
So you got your engineering plans approved and your soft story retrofit permits in hand. You’re now ready for the soft story retrofit construction process to begin.
But first understand this (and if you’ve ever been involved with construction in your building before, you'll know) it’s very disrupting for your tenants. So it’s to everybody’s benefit to finish as fast as possible. On that note, it's important to have a soft story retrofit construction schedule worked out well before the start date of the soft story retrofit project so the people most affected (your tenants) can make plans ahead. It's something we take very seriously and are very good at.
That's why we never start your construction before we've studied, researched and determined the best approach to your project. For both your tenants and our construction team. Our engineers know there is no "one size fits all" solution when it comes to your building. Every building has it's quirks, uniqueness and challenges. We don't like surprises and look at your project from every angle upfront to make sure we aren't missing a chance to save you money, make it better or save you time.
* We may just need to do a “Seismic Retrofit” meaning we add lateral stability to the structure to strengthen the walls as well as transferring some of the load to the buildings foundation.
This is an easy fix in our world, but determining it isn't. You need a seasoned engineer you can trust to make this call.
* Or if we’re dealing with an large open area of an “Soft Story” structure with immediate walls next to it, we can retrofit by replacing those existing walls of stucco and drywall with sturdier plywood. Then we anchor them to the foundation. If needed we will also add shear walls (these are walls built for the sole purpose of adding lateral stability). Internal shear walls can be a very effective way to strengthen most buildings (but only if they don’t interfere with the structure’s original function).
* Or maybe you have a “Soft Story Building” where the openings are too wide or there aren’t any walls immediately attached to the opening to work with. This is a big problem and a solid solution. This is where we use steal frame reinforcement. It’s the only way to meet the lateral stability required by the Los Angeles building Code.
The steal frame is bolted onto a plate and anchored to the foundation of your building. These frames can be more expensive and challenging to install than other techniques (largely due to the fire hazard and noxious fumes generated from welding them in place). A full frame has two columns at the height of the soft story floor (roughly 8’) and one beam in a width of the open bay (anywhere between 8’ to 14’).
* NOTE In addition to strengthening the walls or installing a steel frame, your foundations must be first poured under the frame or next to the shear wall, using the correct PSI concrete with a lot of rebar to transfer some the load into the foundation.
At Sinai, our soft story retrofit designs are value-engineered and custom tailored to meet specific needs depending on the structure. The retrofit solutions for each building may differ, but our plans are always created with the latest construction costs in mind, because we aim to substantially reduce those costs and pass the savings onto you.
Food for thought. In Los Angeles, apartment building owners have 7 years from receipt of the Order to Comply to complete construction.
But, here’s some reasons why you should START YOUR SOFT STORY RETROFIT CONSTRUCTION as soon as you can.
1. Save Money
Deadlines are approaching, and as they do, more building owners will start soft story retrofit construction,
and the cost of labor and materials will start to rise substantially.
Apartment building that are seismically retrofitted will suffer less damage from an earthquake. This means
earthquake insurance premiums and interest rates for retrofitted buildings will be demonstrably lower.
2. Lessen Your Liability
In Los Angeles there’s no question about whether another major earthquake will hit Los Angeles, the only question is when.
Knowing another major earthquake is a certainty, it makes sense to protect one of your biggest financial
assets and prevent or reduce any potential liability that could result in loss of rental income, cost of
tenant relocation, not to mention loss of real estate assets.
But what might be the most important reason to retrofitt your Los Angeles soft-story apartment building is,
this will help shield you against costly lawsuits that can result after an earthquake.
3. Attract More Tenants
Retrofitting your Los Angeles apartment building will attract prospective tenants more easily, and justify higher rents.
The most compelling argument, however, is the ethical one: retrofitting your apartment building sooner rather than later is the right thing to do to protect your tenants and help guard against potential injury or loss of life in a major earthquake.