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What are the main methods of seismic strengthening in soft-story buildings? (Multi-family Commercial Real Estate Sector)

A soft-story retrofit refers to a building that is a multi-story structure built with a first floor that is open in nature, much less rigid than the floors above. For example, multi-family apartment buildings with tuck-under parking or subterranean parking and retail centers with a large store front on the first floor are typical soft-story buildings that need seismic retrofits.

A seismic retrofit is a process of modifying existing buildings and structures to improve their ability to withstand seismic activity, such as earthquakes. The retrofitting process may involve strengthening the foundation, walls, roof, and other structural components of the building to make them more resistant to seismic forces.

Seismic retrofitting can involve a range of techniques, such as adding additional support beams or columns, reinforcing existing walls with steel or other materials, or adding dampers or shock absorbers to reduce the impact of seismic waves.

The main methods of seismic solutions for soft-story seismic retrofits include, concrete column footing, moment frame installation and shear wall reconstruction.

Below are progress phases of each method:

  1. Concrete Column Footing

Footing Prep                 Rebar Install                  Pour Back               Finished Footing

  1. Moment Frame Installation

Prep                                        Install                                Finished Frame

  1. Shear Wall Reconstruction

Plywood                          Lath                               Stucco                           Finished

There are an estimated 13,500 soft-story buildings in Los Angeles alone that need seismic retrofits. This includes buildings constructed before 1980, which have ground floor parking or commercial space with living units above. It is important to note that this number may be subject to change based on ongoing assessments and inspections. We have completed thousands of these types of retrofits with raving reviews from tenants and owners.

Does your commercial real estate portfolio consist of soft-story building assets? Be prepared and have annual building assessments in order to determine if your soft-story structure needs seismic upgrades. For more information regarding our services, please visit Saunders Construction is the premier seismic retrofit and structural repair company in California. We service five states, California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah.


Posted Under: Seismic Retrofits