Why Are Soft Story Buildings More Susceptible To Collapse?

If you look around a typical Los Angeles neighborhood, there’s no doubt you will find a soft-story building. Soft-Story buildings are easy to identify because they feature tuck under parking (this is parking that is below raised parts of the structure), a popular design for apartment buildings. This type of apartment building design is prone to structural failure and collapse during earthquakes if not built to modern building code.

Most people have no idea what a soft story building is or what it looks like, but they are easily identifiable. A soft story building is any multi-story building in which one or more floors have windows, wide doors, large unobstructed commercial spaces, or other openings in places where a shear wall would normally be required for stability as a matter of earthquake engineering. A typical soft story building is an apartment building of three or more stories located over a ground level that has large openings, like tuck-in parking garages, or any other large openings.

Property owners of soft-story buildings have already received a notice in the mail from the city of Los Angeles Department of Building Safety. Owners will have two years from 2015 to either submit proof that the building doesn’t need retrofitting or must provide plans for seismic retrofit. All plans for retrofit must be approved by the city prior to construction. Each city enacted their own requirements, so be sure to check with your local municipality to ensure your seismic retrofit plans comply with new seismic code. As seen in the image above, columns can be reinforced, or they can be replaced altogether. This will vary depending on the size and design of your soft story building.

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.

To get started today or for more information, contact us today to schedule a FREE on-site inspection by our team of soft-story experts or call us now at (818)287-8002.

Posted on Friday, August 2nd, 2019.