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 : Property Retrofitting

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.

Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Retrofit Your Soft-Story Building Now

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.

Related: Property Retrofitting

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: Are You Prepared for the next Earthquake?

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.

Related : What Type of Retaining Wall Does Your Los Angeles House Need ?

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.

Related : Landslide Threat: Mandatory Evacuations Near Los Angeles

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.

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.

Related: Thousands of soft-story structures still need retrofitting 

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.

Related : What is the risk?

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: Foundation Damage Due to Droughts

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.

prepared for the next earthquake

Are You Prepared for the next Earthquake?

Unlike hurricanes or some other natural disasters, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning, therefore the only thing you can do is take preventative measures and be prepared for the next earthquake in advance, before a deadly earthquake strikes in your area.
There are things that you can do to reduce the chances that you or other members of your household will be injured or that your property will be damaged.

The number one and first preventative measure quoted from FEMA ( Federal Emergency Management Agency) is:

Related: Should You Retrofit Your Commercial Building ?

“Prepare Your Home – Make your home safer to be in during earthquakes and more resistant to earthquake damage by assessing its structure and contents. Depending on when and how it was designed and built, the structure you live in may have weaknesses that make it more vulnerable to earthquakes. Common examples include structures not anchored to their foundations or having weak crawl space walls, unbraced pier-and-post foundations, or unreinforced masonry walls or foundations.

Related: Earthquake Preparedness Tips for Your Home

If you own your home, find and correct any such weaknesses with professional help so that you are prepared for the next earthquake. If you are a renter, ask what has been done to strengthen the property against earthquakes, and consider this information in deciding where to rent. If you are building or buying a home, make sure that it complies with the seismic provisions of your local building code.”

Related: Why does my home need to be retrofitted ?

Contact California Foundation Works for a Free* Estimate & Inspection today!


What is the risk?



The Northridge Earthquake in January 1994 approximately rearranged almost 2000 square miles of Los Angeles, leaving portions of it almost two feet higher than before.The 6.7 magnitude quake also forced scientists to revise their estimates of the seismic hazard and risk facing the densely inhabited suburbs of metropolitan Los Angeles.
In the most comprehensive assessment of the Northridge earthquake so far, the scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center say that people in the Los Angeles area should expect at least one earthquake every year of magnitude 5.0 or more for the foreseeable future.

Related: Retrofitting a Los Angeles home for earthquakes

Scientists say that with almost 100 faults in the Los Angeles area known to be capable of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake, emergency and risk planners must recognize that urban earthquakes can no longer be considered rare events.

Today we understand that present building codes consider the type of shaking we perceived in this earthquake to be extreme. We now know this is not extreme and over the long run, contractors should expect that homes and buildings might be subjected to severe ground shaking several times over the coarse of the buildings life.
The 6.7 magnitude earthquake left 61 dead and caused at least $20 billion in damage.
The full extent of the urban corridor from San Bernardino through Los Angeles and northwest to Santa Barbara is at risk.

Related : Why does my home need to be retrofitted ?

Residents should expect the risk of at least one earthquake of magnitude 5.0 or greater every year, and they should strengthen buildings to withstand the repeated shocks, according to the most comprehensive reports so far.
This is an incredibly complex web of faults underlying all of Los Angeles. The Northridge Quake left more than 3,000 buildings unsafe, and scientists blamed much of the damage on faulty construction and inadequate building inspections.
One study suggested that simple measures such as securing computers, lights, pipes and bookcases could save millions. Although we now understand that the emphasis on protecting against loss of life says nothing about the cost of repair to restore the buildings to usability.

Related : Baja Earthquake Puts Strain On Los Angeles

Under the present codes, the buildings may not collapse but may never be usable again. It may be advisable to strengthen the codes to prevent much more of the damage that can occur in strong earthquakes.

Contact California Foundation Works for a Free* Estimate & Inspection today!

Marketability of Your Buildings

Improve The Marketability of Your Buildings!

marketabilitySellers of residential buildings are always looking for ways to make their properties more marketable. One way to improve the marketability of your buildings is by performing a seismic retrofit (earthquake retrofit) PRIOR to the sale.

In addition to improving the marketability of your buildings and causing buyers to view the building as a more valuable asset, lenders will regard the property as a more secure investment since the Probable Maximum Loss (PML) in the event of an earthquake is lower than buildings without comparable seismic retrofitting.

Related:  How to retrofit your home against earthquakes 

Avoid business loss, disruption or relocation

The loss from an earthquake can be devastating both to your property as well as the people in it. Many organizations have had to cease operations temporarily or permanently due to the destruction caused by an earthquake or collapse of a roof due to condensation damage. In these cases, the profitability of a property can be dramatically reduced because of:

* Loss of life
* Medical costs
* Litigation from employees
* Cost of temporary relocation
* Loss of tenants
* Loss of assets within the building
* Loss of building productivity, building use and  overall business operations

Related: What is your home worth in today’s market ?

California Foundation Works assists property owners with planning to reduce or eliminate these devastating losses by performing a seismic retrofit, roof condensation repairs, and/or structural repairs.

Call California Foundation Works for a free* seismic inspection, foundation repair questions or concerns. We are happy to answer them!