cost of soft story retrofit

What Affects The Cost Of Soft Story Retrofit ?

cost of soft story retrofit Previous earthquakes in the Los Angeles area have proved to be very devastating to the residents of Los Angeles. Be it the need to prevent the Loss of life or property, Los Angeles residents are preparing for the next earthquake which is also deemed the big one by getting their properties retrofitted. Of all the buildings, softy story buildings are extremely vulnerable to earthquake damage because of the large unreinforced openings on their ground floors. Even though you expect the cost of softy story retrofit  to be similar, certain factors will affect how much extra or less you will have to pay to get your soft story building retrofitted.

Building Size

Soft story buildings come in different sizes and are used for different purposes such residential or commercial use. Both commercial and residential soft story buildings will either accommodate a single unit or multi units hence the cost of soft story retrofit for these two will differ because the multi unit soft story building is likely to have more openings on the ground floor such as garages to match the number of units.

Related :  What Affects The Cost Of Seismic Retrofit

Engineer and Contractor Used

The cost of soft story retrofit is also highly dependent on the engineer and contractor you choose to hire to help you retrofit your property. Different engineers will provide different engineering procedures and solutions hence the cost soft of story retrofit will be different. Contractors will also offer different prices to retrofit your building using the same procedures hence the need to carefully evaluate bids and the quality of work by each contractor.

Hillside Soft Story Buildings

Unreinforced soft story buildings are vulnerable to earthquakes but soft story buildings built on hillsides are even more vulnerable to earthquakes because of the steep slopes. In order to adequately retrofit soft story buildings on hillsides, additional anchoring is required hence the extra cost of soft story retrofit. So the cost of soft story retrofit on a  hillside building will also depend whether you just want to comply with the law requiring soft story building to be retrofitted or you want to do everything you can to protect your soft story building against damage.

Related : Is Your Hillside Home Retrofitted ?

Call California Foundation Works on 323-418-2239 to schedule a free soft story retrofit inspection and estimate.

cost of seismic retrofit

What Affects The Cost Of Seismic Retrofit

cost of seismic retrofitEarthquakes can either be low intensity earthquakes or high intensity earthquakes which might claim lives and cause damage to properties,  hence the need to have your property retrofitted for earthquakes. Having a seismic retrofit for your property will reinforce your property’s structure and make it less susceptible to earthquake damage. Unlike other types of retrofits, the cost of seismic retrofit is not standard because it’s dependent on a number of factors such as location of the property and age of the property which  in turn determine what kind of methods will be used to strengthen the property. Some of these methods include :

Cripple Wall Bracing

A cripple wall is a wall that is less than a full story height and is usually placed between the first floor and the foundation because that is the weakest part of most old buildings. During an earthquake, the area between the foundation and the first floor is usually the first to collapse so by having a cripple wall in that area, you will drastically reduce the amount of damage done to a building during an earthquake.

Related : Why Does My Home Need to be Retrofitted ?

Foundation Bolting

Foundation bolting is yet another method in which you can retrofit your property against earthquake damage. Foundation bolting is the process which prevents the up and down movements of your property during an earthquake as it might displace an unbolted property off it’s foundation. To  bolt a building to it’s foundation, either expansion anchor bolts or sill plates are used. Expansion anchor bolts are used to directly attach the building to the foundation while the sill plates are used to attach the foundation and building on the sides if the space doesn’t allow direct bolting.

Related : New Spotlight on house bolting – Sill Bolt and Plate Washer Interference

Wood Blocking

Wood blocking is another way of strengthening your property against earthquakes without adding much to the cost of seismic retrofit. Wood blocking involves the addition of pieces of wood in between two studs in order to strengthen them. This is an easy method and yet it’s also very efficient in preventing the wooden studs from collapsing during an earthquake.
Call California Foundation Works on 323-418-2239 to schedule a free seismic retrofit inspection and estimate.

Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program

How To Apply For The Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program

The Earthquake Brace and BoltLos Angeles is prone to earthquakes and the long awaited mega earthquake called the Big one along the San Andreas fault is expected to happen anytime soon. To alleviate the damage caused by earthquakes or The Big One, the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program  (EBB)  has been developed to help homeowners by providing an incentive payment of up to $3000 of the total cost associated with the retrofit of their houses. After applying for the grant, the applicants are then chosen at random if they do meet the criteria. To meet the criteria, homeowners need to meet the following criteria :


In order to qualify for the EBB grant, your property has to be on the list of zip codes covered, because the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program prioritizes certain zip codes which are closest to the fault lines because that is where the earthquakes tend to occur. Apart from concentrating on the zip codes closest to the fault line, the program also prioritizes those zip codes which have the highest concentration of old houses which might be easily damaged.

Related : Are you prepared for the next earthquake ?

Age Of House

The year your house was built also plays an important role in whether you qualify for the grant or not. Most Houses that were built before 1979 qualify for the grant because unlike the current ones, most of them were not bolted to their foundations hence making them weak and susceptible to damage by earthquakes.

Related : Retrofitting a Los Angeles Home for Earthquakes

Building Occupancy

For the property to qualify for the earthquake brace and bolt program, the owner has to occupy the house and multi unit properties also qualify but they need to have four units or less and the owner must occupy one of them.

Related : Why Does My Home Need to be Retrofitted ?

Contact a licensed earthquake retrofit contractor to help you retrofit your house against any seismic damage during an earthquake. Call California Foundation Works on 323-418-2239 to schedule a free earthquake retrofit inspection and estimate.

soft story building

Does Your Soft Story Building Need Reinforcement ?

nnsshA high magnitude earthquake could cause damage to a great number of buildings but even worse is what it can do to weak unreinforced soft story buildings. A soft story building is a building that has open parking or commercial space on the first floor and housing on higher floors built prior to recent codes. Soft story buildings are considered weak because of irregular building configurations that are a serious source of earthquake damage.

Related: 4 reasons why you should retrofit your soft-story building now

The most sure way of knowing whether your soft story building needs a soft story reinforcement is by hiring a professional to do an inspection but you can take notice of some signs of a soft story building that needs reinforcement. A soft story building that was built under building code standards that were enacted before january 1, 1978 will need reinforcements. Pre January 1, 1978 building codes aren’t effective in preventing earthquake damage to soft story buildings so any soft story buildings which were built before January 1, 1978 are likely to be severely damaged during an earthquake. Another sign that your soft story building needs a reinforcement is if there is no proof of any previous reinforcement on your soft story building. If you can’t find any records of reinforcement on your soft story building then it most likely hasn’t been retrofitted. One of the most common signs used to determine if a soft story building needs reinforcement is if it consists of two or more wood frame construction. Usually the wood frame floors are weaker than the other floors and aren’t able to distribute the building weight between floors so they usually crumble in the event of an earthquake.

Related: Soft story solutions

Contact a soft story professional if you think you have a soft story building that needs reinforcement. Call California Foundation Works on 323-418-2239 to get a free* soft story building inspection and estimate.

commercial retrofit

Should You Retrofit Your Commercial Building ?

whyretrofitcommIn the last five years, the residents of Los Angeles have become much more aware of the fact that a high magnitude earthquake will strike anytime soon, in fact in 2015 the NASA JPL scientists predicted that there is a 99.9% chance of having a 5.0 or greater magnitude earthquake in Los Angeles in the following two and and a half years. Unlike homeowners, commercial building owners have a lot more at stake in the event of an earthquake hence the need to retrofit their properties.

Why retrofit a commercial building ?

Reduced Risk of Injury

Unreinforced Commercial buildings such as apartment buildings or offices tend to have a lot of injuries or deaths during an earthquake because of the large number of occupants. During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a total of 11,846 people were hospitalized and a lot of them sustained injuries or died from structural failure of commercial buildings such as the Northridge Meadows Apartments where sixteen people died after the top two floors of the apartment building collapsed on top of the first floor. Having your commercial building earthquake retrofitted will greatly reduce the risk of injuries during or after an earthquake.

Related: 4 reasons why you should retrofit your soft story building now

Reduced Earthquake Insurance Premium

Most commercial building owners think that they have two options of either Purchasing earthquake insurance and not Investing in earthquake retrofit or investing in earthquake retrofit and not purchasing earthquake insurance but it shouldn’t be either of the two options. Commercial building owners can earthquake retrofit their buildings and also get earthquake insurance because earthquake insurance premiums are greatly reduced if a property is retrofitted therefore you can have your building retrofitted and also have it insured without spending a lot of money.

More Clients

It’s in the interest of the commercial building owners if tenants or future tenants know that the commercial building is earthquake retrofitted, because Los Angeles is so vulnerable to earthquakes hence the residents are continuously educated about earthquakes and also receive numerous earthquake warnings and advisories such as the most recent one in which a 7.0 or greater magnitude earthquake was expected. Have an earthquake retrofitted building in Los angeles will greatly increase your number of clients.

Most vulnerable commercial buildings

  • Historical buildings
  • Unreinforced masonry  buildings
  • Tilt-Up concrete buildings
  • Soft Story buildings

Related: Commercial seismic retrofitting solutions

Hire a professional earthquake retrofit contractor

You need to hire a licensed earthquake retrofit contractor if you want to achieve excellent results. To receive a free* inspection and estimate, contact California Foundation Works on 323-418-2239.

Hillside Home retrofitted

Is Your Hillside Home Retrofitted ?

hillside1The most iconic homes in Los Angeles are built on hillsides and their landscapes are breathtaking. Because of Los Angeles’s mountainous nature, there are over 200,000 homes in Los Angeles that are built on hills or some kind of slope. Inspite of the beautiful landscapes that these hillside homes have, they tend to be the most vulnerable to damage in the event of an earthquake. Hillside homes built before 2000 are considered to be very vulnerable to earthquake damage and therefore homeowners are advised to retrofit their hillside homes.

Related: Earthquake Safety Tips

Ways of  Preventing Earthquake Damage To Hillside Homes

Retaining Wall Installation

Retaining walls are structures that are built to withhold earth. A retaining wall will prevent  soil from sliding down, not only during an earthquake but prevent gradual sliding too.  A good contractor should be able to build a strong retaining wall using timber, stones, concrete or blocks which can hold the soil around a house without sliding down during an earthquake.

Erosion Control

Soil erosion weakens the structural integrity of your hillside home. There are a number of ways in which you can prevent soil erosion on your hillside property. Planting trees and grass around your property will hold the soil together and prevent soil erosion. Building wood or stone terraces will help to prevent soil erosion too.

Caisson Foundation

A caisson foundation is a foundation that is built by pouring concrete in deep drilled holes with some steel reinforcements. They are effective in resisting earthquake damage because the run deep into the ground.  Caisson foundations can easily hold the weight of the house and there are less vibrations going up to the house.

Concrete Slab Reinforcement

Concrete is very strong in compression but extremely weak in tension, steel is used to compensate for that weakness. Concrete is a brittle material that will not usually withstand a strong earthquake, therefore reinforcing it with steel is usually the best option.

Related: Caissons and Grade Beams

Contact a Professional

To have your hillside home retrofitted, contact a professional hillside retrofit contractor. Contact California foundation Works on 323-418-2239 to schedule a free inspection and estimate.

Earthquake safety

Earthquake safety tips

eaerthquake-tipsThe likelihood of a high magnitude earthquake in Los Angeles always seems to be on the rise as days go by. The recent swarm of quakes in the Salton sea raised the alarm on the possibility of the San Andreas fault rupturing  and causing thousands of deaths, injuries and billions of dollars in damages. There are a number of ways in which you can protect yourself and your property from an earthquake’s devastating effects.

Related: Why does my home need to be retrofitted ?

Personal Earthquake Safety Tips

Before the earthquake

  • Learn first aid. It’s important to learn some basic first aid in preparation for an earthquake so that you can administer basic help to yourself and those around you. And keep a first aid kit nearby too
  • Store emergency supplies such as food, water, prescription medicine, and a flashlight in an area that can be readily accessed during an earthquake.
  • Identify safe spaces such as under tables or other sturdy furniture in your house or other places where you spend most of your time, so that you can crawl under them in case of an earthquake.
  • Arrange your home for safety. To avoid anything from falling on you during an earthquake, anchor your appliances and electronics to the wall and avoid hanging heavy things near areas where people frequently sit, sleep or walk through.

During and after the earthquake

  • Don’t use elevators, stairways or run to other rooms.
  • If you are inside the house, don’t try to go out but instead crawl to a nearby safe space such as under the table until the earthquake ends.
  • If you are outdoors, similarly drop to the ground but stay away from trees, buildings and power lines.
  • If you are driving, slowly drive to an open space and don’t leave your car until the earthquake ends.


Building Earthquake Safety Tips

Before the earthquake

  • Get rid of  elements such as trees or unstable structures that are too close to your home because they might cause damage to your house during an earthquake.                   
  • Learn how to turn off gas, power and water. If not turned off, gas might cause a fire and water might flood in your house.
  • Contact a professional to earthquake retrofit your home. By far the most important step you can take in securing your home.
  • Get earthquake insurance.

During and after the earthquake

  • Expect an aftershock. Aftershocks are very likely after an earthquake.
  • Stay away from buildings or other damaged infrastructure such as bridges and roads.
  • Document the damage if you have earthquake insurance.

Related: Retaining wall construction

Hire an Earthquake Retrofit Contractor

The most important step you can take in securing your building against an earthquake is to have it earthquake retrofitted by a licensed contractor. Contact California Foundation Works on  323-418-2239 to get a free* earthquake retrofit inspection and estimate.

earthquake retrofitting

How to Retrofit Your Home Against Earthquakes

how-to-retrofit-against-earthquakeWhether of low or high magnitude, An earthquake will definitely put your building structure to the test. In areas such as Southern California that get to experience more than 10,000 earthquakes every year, homeowners are not only advised but some are required by law to retrofit their homes in order to avoid any damages to their properties or injuries. Earthquake retrofitting procedures are dependent on the property being retrofitted.

Related: Thousands of soft-story structures still need retrofitting 

Retrofitting Your Home

If you are a homeowner in an area that is prone to earthquakes such as Southern California, You need to retrofit your home but even more so if your home is a soft story, was constructed before 1970 or has a crawlspace.

Bracing The Cripple Wall

Bracing the cripple wall which is also known as the pony wall is crucial to retrofitting your home against earthquakes because it is the weakest part of the house. Unbraced cripple walls are usually the first to crumble in the event of an earthquake. To brace cripple walls, structural-grade plywood  shear panels are used to connect the wooden stands.

Bolting The House To the Foundation

Foundation bolting involves the attaching of a home’s wood frame to its concrete foundation. Houses will usually slide off of the foundation during an earthquake if they are not bolted or improperly bolted. Anchor bolts and metal plates are used bolt the wooden frame and the foundation together.

Attaching The Floor To Braced Cripple Walls

If the cripple wall has been braced and the house has been bolted to the foundation, the only other concern you should have in case of an earthquake is the house sliding off of the cripple wall because the floor of the house and cripple wall hasn’t been connected. Bolting the floor of the house to the cripple wall will ensure that it doesn’t slide off during an earthquake.

Related: Earthquake safety tips

Hire a Professional Earthquake Retrofitting Expert

If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes or have a house that was built before 1970, has a crawlspace or is a soft story building call a professional earthquake retrofitting contractor. If you live in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, Contact California Foundation Works for a free* earthquake retrofitting inspection.

earthquake retrofit

Why You Should Retrofit Your Home in Los Angeles?

1. Cracks in your walls or foundation allow water to seep in to your home:Depositphotos_7189847_s-2015
– Every time there is a considerable rain fall, sunken living rooms, basements and foundations run the risk of having water seep in. The problems may worsen from year to year, this is why it is imperative to make these repairs before the damage becomes too severe. After the repairs, water seepage will be effectively stopped. Water can damage the supports in your foundation, ruin furniture in sunken areas, damage carpeting and flooring, and cause mold to form, leading to health problems.
– Is your residential or commercial property experiencing signs of water damage or water seepage? How would you know? Please read our article on water seepage issues to find out more information on how you can tell if your home is at risk for water issues.

Related: How are foundation cracks fixed ?

2. Foundation damage directly affects the value of your home and often can affect the status of your home’s eligibility for a loan.
– Often times a potential buyer will not even consider a home with foundation issues as they are known to be damaging and costly to repair. In addition, it may be very difficult to obtain a loan to purchase a home with foundation damage, or they will require proof of repair of these issues, which could lead to nasty negotiations.
– In the case of an FHA loan, they may categorize your house as a “Fixer-Upper” requiring the buyer to get a special type of loan, subsequently lowering the value of the house. The VA also has specific guidelines regarding foundation repair.
This example details guidelines for a loan term of 30 years on a manufactured home:
“To be eligible for a VA loan term of 30 years, a manufactured home must be
• classified and taxed as real property
• properly affixed to a permanent foundation (Section 12.10)
• substantially conform with VA MPRs (Chapter 12), and
• conform with applicable building code and zoning requirements for real estate.”
For more information on the VA and foundations download this PDF(over 600 pages) and search for the term foundation

This example shows how important a foundation can be in the process of obtaining proper funding for a new home. Do not leave your property vulnerable to devaluation and ineligibility of funding.

Related: Improve the marketability of your building 

3. The longer you wait to repair your foundation, the more severe the damage will be, and more costly the repairs.
– At first you may notice only small cracks, or only a slight sloping to the floors. After time though, if the cause of those slight imperfections is not repaired, it will continue to displace your foundation.
– Logically, the more your foundation shifts, the larger the cracks become, the more weak the entire structure becomes, and thus the more the costs of repairing your house increase.
– Make sure to catch your foundation damage early so you can avoid more major damage and more costly repairs.
4. 85% of homes in California will experience foundation shifting due to a high concentration of expansive soil.
– Expansive soil is soil that is very common in the US and especially in Southern California. Expansive soil if less densely compacted soil that is susceptible to movement, when it absorbs water and then when it dries, and when that water is cold or when that water is hot.
– As the soil beneath your home expands and contracts, it shifts where your foundation is sitting, and therefore the structural integrity of your house. In most cases there are relatively simple solutions that can be put in place, but there are also more in depth solutions which can be more costly. Find out sooner, rather than later, what condition your soil and therefore your foundation is in.
Some good information on soil conditions can be found here:
5. Repairing your foundation damage can help you lower energy costs.
Repairing shifted windows and cracks in a structure can affect energy costs.
A large percentage of your homes heat is lost through:
– Infiltration and air leakage
– the small openings around doors and windows that are uneven.
– Floors and below grade space
– Walls
– Ceilings

Related: What if you delay foundation repair

If you think your house is experiencing foundation problems, contact California Foundation Works today for a free* foundation inspection.

retrofitting in los angeles

Retrofitting a Los Angeles Home for Earthquakes



It is not uncommon for houses to experience a certain level of damage due to calamities like earthquakes, especially if you have not taken the necessary steps in order to retrofit your house for this kind of situation. Having said this, it is one of your major responsibilities as a homeowner to ensure that you go through the process of retrofitting your house for earthquakes. Earthquake retrofitting is something that the best contractors in your area can help you with. All you have to do is to drop your trusted professionals a call and let you intent be known. After you have settled on the foundation repair cost that you would have to pay your contractors for the repairs, your contractors will immediately start preparing your house and safeguarding it against this kind of natural maladies.

Related: Why does my home need to be retrofitted ?

Statistics show that houses that are retrofitted to withstand the stress brought about by earthquakes are those that remain safe even during the strongest shakes. Yes, there is no hundred percent guarantee that there will be no damage caused by the ordeal, but the damaged experienced by houses that are prepared to face this kind of natural calamities are measurably less than those that are not fitted to withstand the same situation. With this said, you have to see to it that you sign up for the necessary house settling services that will help you ensure the safety of your home. Yes, you will have to spend a certain amount of money, but you will be able to safeguard your property and your family.

There are different methods that may be used in order to retrofit a home for earthquakes, all of which you may use in order to ensure the safety of your home. For example, you may retrofit your house for this kind of calamity using a method known as house bolting, which will involve strengthening the fastening the connects the foundation of your house to the rest of the over-all structure. Since your house will be securely fastened to the ground, you will not have to worry about suffering from a great deal of damage even if the strongest earthquake hits. Sign up for this kind of service, along with other foundation repairs, so as to ensure that you will be able to secure property and protect it from any kind of damage.

Related: How to retrofit your home against earthquakes

There are various services that you may use in order to strengthen the walls of your house as well, so as to ensure that the shakes that come with the earthquakes will not cause them to crack and get damaged. For example, you may sign up for concrete pillar foundation repairs that will help you keep the different parts of your housing structure in place. The cost of the services that you will sign up for may accumulate after a while, yes, but there is no doubt that you house will be able to withstand the stress that it will experience due to earthquakes and other kinds of natural calamities and occurrences.

Give us a call today at 323-418-2239. We offer Free* foundation inspection to homeowners in Los Angeles, California

Why Does My Home Need to be Retrofitted?

House-boltingHomes foundation is the main support and back bone for the rest of the house. If it is not level, intact, and properly bolted, it can result in many problems, such as, floor sagging or sloping, an entire part of the house to sag, and can cause cracks and fissures both cosmetically and structurally. The best thing you can do is have your foundation retrofitted BEFORE any damage occurs, once the foundation has been compromised, it can be a costly and  cumbersome problem to fix. There are many ways with which your foundation can be strengthened to resist damage and having one of them done BEFORE there is damage is a wise investment to make your home a safer place to live and raise your property value. Here at California Foundation Works, we have dealt with every kind of foundation, so there is no worry if you have a complex foundation, or a regular one, we are ready and able to handle any type of foundation.

Related: How to retrofit your home against earthquakes

Older homes were never constructed with proper supports to withstand earthquake damage, and other damage that can occur due to environmental causes. Whether your home is older, such as this, or has already incurred damage from one of these causes, a solution is available. Having cracks, unleveled areas, water damage, shifting of windows and doors are some of the signs that will alert you to the condition of the foundation below, and should be looked at by a professional foundation expert right away.  You will catch the problem, hopefully, before it becomes a serious risk, and save yourself both money and unsafe living conditions.

Feel free* to contact us today at (323) 418-2239 for your free* home inspection anytime to make sure your house is safe. We will be happy to send out one of our licensed foundation specialists right away to start making your home a safer place for you and for your family. These measures will give you peace of mind, raise the value of your home while saving you money at the same time, and let you rectify small problems that could otherwise become overwhelming.

house bolting

New Spotlight on house bolting – Sill Bolt and Plate Washer Interference

washersDespite the widespread use and familiarity of structural connectors, when not installed properly, they can become a source of headaches on job sites. As a field representative, I am often called to the jobsite to help resolve problems that arise when connectors are either installed incorrectly or used in unsuitable applications.Most of the time I get called because a building inspector has flagged a mistake or written a correction notice. These installation errors can impact the load capacity of connectors and create callbacks and long-term problems if not corrected. While there are other factors that can contribute to these problems, there are some common application and installation mistakes that easily can be avoided.

Related: House bolting solutions

Here are two examples:

Sill Bolt and Plate washer interference Typically only a standard cut washer and hex nut are needed to attach mudsills to anchor bolts. But in recent years, the codes have Studs, rim board and joists often have to be cut or notched to relieve interference, which can weaken framing members and add extra time and cost (see Left).

Fortunately the codes recognized this issue and now allow the washer to be slotted for adjustability (see Right).