What is it?

A “Soft-Story” building is a property, be it residential, commercial, or apartment building where the first floor is much less rigid than the floor(s) above and, if not reinforced, poses a serious danger of collapse in the event of an earthquake.

What We Do:

Our Engineering team will first analyze your property and determine, if necessary, the best way to strengthen its structure against a seismic event. We weigh several factors when deciding the best way to approach a project; first and foremost ensuring that the building will meet the structural standards of the City ordinance, but also minimizing the impact on the building’s functionality.


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Depending on the property, soft-story retrofits can involve reinforcing existing walls by replacing finishes like drywall or stucco with sturdier plywood, anchoring existing walls to the building’s foundation, adding “Shear Walls,” walls built to add lateral stability of the building, and installing steel moment-resisting frames as reinforcement.

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    Save money

    Save money by having a soft-story retrofit done. It’s generally less expensive to retrofit (and thus prevent damage due to an earthquake) than to repair earthquake damage.

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    Lower earthquake insurance

    If you retrofit your soft-story building, the lower your earthquake insurance premiums are likely to be. Your earthquake insurance underwriter will probably decide you have low potential exposure (i.e. that you’re a low-risk client) because your building has been reinforced to protect it from earthquake damage.

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    Attract tenants

    Building owners are required by law to disclose their buildings’ seismic vulnerability to prospective tenants — so if you don’t retrofit, you could scare tenants away. On the other hand, if you retrofit, the fact that your building has been retrofitted may be used as an additional marketing/selling point. You could also command higher rent prices.