Protecting Your Soft-Story Building
Your building is one of your most important assets. The soft-story retrofitting process begins with you. Understanding the process and requirements is the critical first step in finding the right soft-story retrofit solution for your building.
Understanding the Soft-Story Mandate
If your city has a soft-story mandate or ordinance, as San Francisco and Los Angeles do, you have already or will be receiving a notice to inform you that your building requires some kind of retrofit. These soft-story retrofit ordinances were put in place to protect the community's resiliency after an earthquake.
A sizable seismic event can have catastrophic effects on an entire city. When soft-story buildings fail, workforce recovery is halted and social services are strained. A city's ability to perform search and rescue, transport the injured to hospitals, or fight fires can be impeded by damage and debris, even if only a small portion of its multi-unit buildings collapse. Even those buildings that do not completely collapse will likely be unsafe to occupy until they are evaluated and repaired, which displaces the population and increases the demand for shelter beds. Earthquake retrofitting weak-story residential buildings has become a top municipal priority, as it helps create shelter in place for our communities.
To find out more information about your city's mandate, refer to each of their corresponding soft-story mandate informational websites.
Retrofit City Mandate Resources
- Los Angeles, CA Soft-Story Retrofit Mandate
- LA Soft-Story Building Lookup
- LA Retrofit Property Owners Guide
- LA Tenant Habitability Plan
- Tenant Habitability Plan Instructions
- Tenant Notification Instructions
- Seismic Notice of Retrofit Work
- Seismic Per Diem Agreement
- 2016 Safer Cities Survey
Finding Soft-Story Retrofit Providers
Having an experienced engineer or architect design a soft-story retrofit solution, and a contractor to perform the work, is critical to successfully implementing a soft-story retrofit design. A licensed engineer will assess your building to determine the right design and products to use in the soft-story retrofit solution.
Some cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have hosted earthquake fairs that bring together designers, contractors, financial institutions and other vendors to bring awareness and education regarding the soft-story mandate.
To the right are links to these retrofit fairs as well as additional resources to find professionals who undertake soft-story retrofits.
Retrofit Provider Resources
- Structural Engineers Association of Northern California
- Structural Engineers Association of Southern California
- Structural Engineers Association of California
Selecting the Right Soft-Story Retrofit Products
Simpson Strong-Tie has an extensive line of soft-story retrofit products that include Strong Frame® moment frames, Strong-Wall® shearwalls and a broad line of wood connectors and anchoring systems that can help reinforce your soft-story building against collapse.
See our product page for more details about each product and how they work together to strengthen your building's resiliency.
Ensuring Proper Installation of Your Soft-Story Retrofit Products
Since our products are factory built, they can easily be installed with minimal job-site fabrication. And because there is no welding involved — and thus no fire hazard — our solutions allow your tenants to remain occupying the building throughout the soft-story retrofit process.
Visit our video library to view how our soft-story retrofit products are installed.
Retrofit Installation Resources
Inspecting Your Soft-Story Retrofit
A soft-story retrofit requires certain work to be inspected by a Special Inspector for quality assurance purposes. It is the responsibility of the building owner to obtain a Special Inspector. The City and County of San Francisco Department of Building Inspection has issued a list of Recognized Special Inspection and Testing Agencies.