Soft Story Retrofit

We Are Soft Story Retrofit Experts in Southern California

Soft Story Construction in Los Angeles, Ventura County, Orange County:

There has recently been an ordinance passed by the City of Los Angeles, which requires  the retrofit of all wood-frame Soft Story buildings.  A soft-story building is a structure consisting of two stories or more, located over ground level with very large openings, for parking, garages, or a storefront.  Because there are less walls these structures are “less stiff”,  thus called “soft stories”.   The building may be subject  to structural failure during an earthquake without proper strengthening. Here at Built Strong Foundation we offer Soft Story Retrofitting for your property.

According to a Caltech survey, there are more than 18,000 soft-story buildings in need of  soft-story retrofitting. If you own an home that is old, multi-story or residential or commercial building, you may need a soft-story retrofit.

Buildings most vulnerable have been identified as:

*Consisting of 2 or more stories – wood frame construction

*Build under building codes before January 1, 1978.

*Contains ground floor parking similar open space.

*Ground of lower floors turned into office floors, where offices are divided by glass partitions.

The program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 units or less.

To start the seismic retrofitting project, the first step is to analyze the structure and determine the best way to strengthen the building.  Our foundation experts will take into consideration several factors.  We will need to ensure the building will meet the structural standards required of retrofitted buildings engineering, as well as lower the impact of its use of the building

To retro-fit a soft-story building, you can strengthen existing walls, add new ‘shear walls’ or add a steel frame in the soft areas of the building. To strengthen existing walls, finishes like drywall or stucco are replaced with sturdier plywood. Anchoring walls to the foundation is also part of the process. Adding shear walls — walls built for the sole purpose of adding lateral stability — can also be very effective, provided they don’t interfere with the structure’s function. If they do, a steel frame may be the best option, though such frames may be more expensive and dangerous to install (due to the fire hazard and noxious fumes generated from welding them into place) than other techniques.

If you need a soft story retrofit call Built Strong Foundation.


This info below is from LADBS website:

From past earthquakes, multi-story buildings with weak and/or open front wall lines creating a “soft-story” (i.e. buildings with tuck-under-parking) performed poorly and collapsed. The goal of the mandatory retrofit program, under Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081, is to reduce structural deficiencies by the most economical and feasible method. Without proper strengthening, these vulnerable buildings may be subjected to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.

Buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria:

  • Consist of 2 or more stories wood frame construction
  • Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978
  • Contains ground floor parking or other similar open floor space

The program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 or less units.

Read More About the Los Angeles Retrofit Program Here:

Soft-Story Retrofit Program PDF Download

Priority Categories Start date of Sending Out Orders
I. Buildings with 16 or more dwelling units 3-story and above May 2, 2016
2-story July 22, 2016
II. Buildings with 3 or more stories with less than 16 units Oct 17, 2016
III. Buildings not falling within the definition of Priority I or II with 9-15 units Jan 30, 2017
with 7-8 units May 29, 2017
with 4-6 units Aug 14, 2017
Condos/Commercial Oct 30, 2017

The property owner must comply with the ordinance within the following time limits:

From the receipt of the Order to Comply:

  • 2 years: Submit proof of previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish
  • 3.5 years: Obtain permit to start construction or demolition
  • 7 years: Complete construction


If you own a soft-story structure, Built Strong Construction is offering a free inspection consultation to building owners.  To schedule a free inspection consultations with Build Strong Construction, please call us at 800-899-5085.

A representative will assist you to schedule your inspection.



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