If you live in Los Angeles, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of soft story retrofitting before. A soft story building is multi-story structure in which one or more floors have windows, wide doors, large unobstructed commercial spaces, or other openings in places where a sheer wall would normally be required for stability as a matter of earthquake engineering design. The city of Los Angeles recently passed Ordinance 183893, which requires the retrofit of pre-1978 wood-frame, soft story buildings and non-ductile concrete buildings. The goal of this ordinance is to reduce these deficiencies and improve the performance of these buildings during earthquakes. Without the proper strengthening and retrofitting techniques, these buildings may be subjected to failure during or after an earthquake.

How Much Time Do I Have To Get My Retrofit Done?

If you own a commercial property in Los Angeles, you have two years from the receipt of your Order to Comply to submit proof of a previous retrofit, or to present new retrofitting plans or demolition plans. Within three-and-a-half years, the property owner must have a permit for construction or demolition, and the project must be completed within seven years.

What Will Happen To My Tenants?

If you own a multi-unit housing development, you may be wondering what happens to your tenants during a retrofit. The city of Los Angeles now requires the approval of a Tenant Habitability Plan prior to the start of any construction. This process is specifically designed to protect your residents from disruption or harm, and the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department can assist building owners in preparing this document. The document will address the scope of the work being done, and what the owner, contractor, or workers plan on doing to minimize the impact of construction on the building’s tenants.

What Financing Options Are Available For Retrofitting?

If you’re concerned about financing a retrofitting project, it’s important to remember that there are many financing options available. Due to today’s low interest rates, many building and business owners will refinance their properties and take cash out to make improvements. Other company owners may prefer to use commercial loans for retrofitting their structure. Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE financing, is also available to qualified properties in the city of Los Angeles. This allows building owners to borrow money for energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, and seismic retrofits to spread out the costs over time as a special assessment on their property bill tax.

If you manage or own a commercial building, industrial space, or a multi-unit housing development, it may be wise to contact a engineer to inspect your building. At Consulting Engineers Corp., our engineers have more than 47 years of experience under their belts, and we can help to ensure your structure is well equipped to handle the seismic movements of an earthquake. Check out some of our past projects online or give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our engineers!