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Why Are Soft Story Buildings More Susceptible To Collapse?

If you live in California, you may be wondering as a building owner or manager if your building is going to be in danger during the next earthquake.  There will also be another earthquake after that!  The main topic you want to consider when thinking about the types of buildings that are one of types of buildings that are unsafe is soft-story buildings.

What Is A Soft Story Building?

In layman’s terms, a soft story building is one that has an open end of the building like a commercial storefront, or parking/garages on the base floor under units or any open (soft story) condition.  In the event of an earthquake, the shaking causes these soft-story buildings to collapse.

Think of it as pushing over an open hut or thatched roof. There is no lateral resistance from forces on the side to keep it upright.  It only takes a matter of seconds before everything tilt over and will collapse.

A soft story building is not only one of the more common types of buildings to collapse, but it can also be a highly dangerous situation to the people who live or work in the building.

Estimates By Region

According to the Association Of Bay Area Governments Resilience Program, they have estimates for each region.

San Francisco – 2800 buildings
Oakland – 1380 buildings
Santa Clara – 2630 buildings
San Jose – 1093 buildings
Berkeley – 400 buildings
Alameda – 178 buildings
Sebastopol – 55 buildings

The above  are ALL soft-story buildings.  The base of a soft story building  is 70% less resistant than the floors above it.  These soft stories can create a major weak point when it comes to earthquakes.

What Can Be Done?

If your building is in one of the regions above or you know you have a soft story building, you might be wondering what the next steps are.

One of the best options available to you is to start looking into companies in your area that offer soft story seismic retrofitting.

What Is Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting?

Soft story seismic retrofitting takes a look at the structural components of a building and what needs to be added or strengthened in order to make that building stronger so that when an earthquake happens, it will be strong enough to resist collapsing.

Whether you know you have a soft story building and you need retrofitting or you want to know about the structural integrity of your building, visit Saunders Seismic online for more information.


Posted Under: soft story