All You Need to Know About Soft-Story Retrofit in Los Angeles

On January 17th, at 10:31 am local time, the Northridge complex earthquake shook the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California (ca), with 6.7 magnitudes. The quake, which occurred along the San Andreas Fault, was the most costly natural disaster in National Public Radio’s history. The earthquake caused $20 billion in property damage and killed more than 60 people. 

The earthquake also caused extensive damage to the Northridge Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in the United States. The tragedy led to significant reforms in building codes, and the soft-story retrofit in Los Angeles, CA, was made compulsory.

Why Are Soft-Story Buildings Weak?

The soft-story is one of the major structural flaws in older buildings. They are areas of a building’s foundation that don’t carry the total weight of the structure above them. The soft-story apartment buildings are particularly vulnerable to earthquake damage since they do not have a lot of steel reinforcement in their frames. And this leads to structural failures and the collapse of many buildings. 

The first story is built exceedingly open in the plan for a garage or a lobby with huge windows. This vast open floor plan could not give the necessary support to the floors above. And it makes the above stories vulnerable to any side-to-side shake of earthquakes. As such, it makes the upper floors crush everything under them after a solid earthquake-like shake.

What Is Soft-Story Retrofit?

It often needs repair, renovation, and reinforcement when a building is old. But older buildings also often have features that make them difficult to modernize, such as narrow hallways, low ceilings, and awkward layouts. 

Meanwhile, soft-story retrofit is a renovation technique that uses traditional construction methods, such as the addition of floors and walls, and new building technologies, such as high-ceiling construction, to modernize and strengthen soft-story buildings. 

What Is the Process of Doing a Soft-Story Retrofit?

The process includes site planning, obtaining permission, disseminating information, and construction work.

Site Plan

The site plan for a soft story retrofit is the blueprint for the site design. A functional assessment of the site plan is held, and it should contain all of the buildings inside the property line boundaries. A professional structural engineer will use this to solve the building’s weakness.

Submitting the Site Plan to the City Plan Checkers

Soon after the site plan is ready, it is submitted to the city planners and the city engineers. They will check and decide whether it is per the rules of the soft-story retrofit in Los Angeles, CA. Further, you will get guidance on the data to obtain the city’s approval.

Construction Planning

Construction planning encompasses two critical factors. The first step is to notify tenants who the retrofit will impact. Another consideration is to plan for temporary electricity backup, as electrical infrastructure is frequently affected by retrofit work. As such, items must repeatedly be shifted or temporarily detached.

Construction Work

The construction work will start after a proper schedule for faster and timely completion. And when the schedule is planned and released before the work, the tenants will not land in trouble.

So many lives and properties have been lost, and much has been learned. Now, adhering to the rules established is the only way out for the people to save themselves from the natural calamities.