soft story retrofitting Los angeles

What if You Don’t Finish Your Soft Story Retrofit in Time?

soft story retrofit

In Los Angeles alone, over 20,000 buildings have been served mandatory soft story retrofitting ordinances, making the need for a soft story retrofit a widespread reality for many  Southern California residents. Despite the mandatory orders, however, many building owners delay getting the process due to a myriad of concerns ranging from cost to time. Today we are going to explore what happens if you don’t complete your mandatory soft story retrofit in time. From penalties to risks, here is everything you need to know about the importance of sticking to a soft story retrofitting schedule. Keep in mind that even if your Southern California city currently hasn’t passed a mandatory retrofitting ordinance, there are still a number of cities with ordinances on the way. If you’re the owner of a soft story building in Southern California, the following information is important to know.

Soft Story Retrofitting Deadlines

Notice to Comply

While some might independently elect to retrofit their soft story building to invest in its long term structural success, for those who have received a Notice to Comply, this process is non-negotiable. The mandatory retrofitting project has deadlines which must be met within the time delineated. The first step of the process is the Notice to Comply.

For Los Angeles residents, these letters started mailing out in 2016 and likely arrived sometime in 2017. 

soft story

Due to the high volume of seismic activity that Southern California residents experience, these notices must be taken seriously. You will have two years from the date the notice was received to submit retrofitting plans for your property, plans to demolish your property or proof of a previous retrofit that meets current building code standards.

Related: What Affects the Cost of Soft Story Retrofit?

Structural Evaluation

The cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica all require Architectural and Engineering Plans to be submitted to respective building and safety department of the city as part of a Structural Evaluation, while other Southern California cities such as Pasadena and Beverly Hills will likely send more mandatory orders to comply in the near future. In order to develop plans that will meet current building code standards and guarantee the structural success of your building in the event of an earthquake, building owners will need to work with a licensed structural engineer or architect for plan development. The building owner will have three and a half years from the date of the original order to obtain all necessary project permits.

Ready to Issue

Once your plans have been revised and approved, you can start working with a contractor on implementing your retrofitting solution. You will also be required to give your building tenants notice of the construction by filing a Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) before the construction project can begin. Because there are so many steps to take before the actual construction can commence, it is crucial to get started on the process as soon as possible. Since the mandatory retrofits have been sent out, the cost for the retrofitting process has been steadily increasing. In addition, building owners have a finite amount of time to complete their mandatory retrofitting process. The entirely of the retrofitting process must be completed within seven years of receiving the service order.

Related: 4 Steps to Soft Story Retrofitting

soft story retrofitting Los angeles

Missed Deadline Penalties

Thinking of forgoing your mandatory soft story retrofit? Not only will you be jeopardizing the lives of your tenants and your property value, but there can be serious consequences for building owners who refuse to comply with the project deadline.

The Department of Building Inspection (DBI) will take enforcement and abatement action once of Notice of Violation has been issued. This will cause the case to be referred to the Code Enforcement Section, where proper administrative activities will be taken. 

Buildings will then be marked as in violation of the mandatory retrofits and be labeled as unsecured in the event of seismic activity.

Related: How to Apply for the Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program

Retrofitting Delay Equals Damage

Due to the enormous destruction that earthquakes can cause particularly those with prolonged shaking, which can entirely move the building structure and cause it to collapse on itself the importance of getting your retrofit project completed as soon as possible cannot be undervalued. Buildings that fail to complete the mandatory retrofit in a timely manner run the risk of facing serious destruction and even collapse in the event of an earthquake. And as residents of Los Angeles County know, it’s not a question of if an earthquake will strike but when it will hit and how severe the damage will be. In order to not jeopardize the lives of any building occupants and risk the subsequent collapse of your building and property value, getting a soft story retrofit completed as early as possible is a necessity. Providing your building with the proper structural backbone to guarantee that it will not collapse in the event of seismic activity is not only necessary to guarantee immediate safety, but it is a crucial step in investing in the long term structural stability of your property.

Related: Understanding the Causes of Foundation Damage

California Foundation Works Solutions

Here at California Foundation Works, we strive to make the soft story retrofitting process as easy as possible by working with our clients to secure all necessary retrofitting permits for them. If you have uncertainties over whether or not your building qualifies as soft story, we can check with the city for you to ensure that your retrofit is mandatory.

We provide free building inspections and project estimates to building owners at no obligations in order to inform you about the condition of your building and give you an idea of what the retrofitting process will include. 

soft story retrofitting in La

Our solutions are customized for each project based on specific client needs, building requirements, and unique budgets, but we never compromise on any aspect of the project. It’s important to understand that the retrofits have been mandated for the sole purpose of increasing the safety of Southern California buildings so that they do not collapse in the event of a natural disaster. While the soft story retrofitting process understandably might seem overwhelming to the average building owner, California Foundation works is here to make the process as hassle free, quick, and efficient as possible. You can rest easy knowing your building is in our hands.

Related: Earthquake Retrofitting 101: Securing Your Home

Do you have a soft story Southern California building?

Does your building have large open areas on the ground floor that leave it inadequate able to brace the structural force of the floors above it?

Have you received an order to comply with your city?

Ease your panic before it has the chance to settle in. California Foundation Works is here to help will all aspects of the soft story retrofitting process. From securing permits through outlining and walking you through every step of the project to finding you the best discounts on the market, we’re here to be your one and only source for Southern California soft story retrofits.

Call California Foundation Works to get started on your custom repair solution.
Call now for a FREE* inspection and quote!

house leveling los angeles

The Ultimate Homeowner Guide to Floor Leveling

post and pier los angeles

When it comes to home repairs, some problems are easier to spot than others. One of the most apparent problems that a homeowner can notice is floor leveling issues. Since we walk on our floors every day, cracks, loud floorboards, sloped or warped floors, and other related issues usually become readily apparent. But the question is: what should you do about your uneven floors?

Today we have the ultimate guide for all things floor leveling, starting with why your floors are warping in the first place to how to resolve the issue and prevent future problems down the line.

Understanding the Cause for Unleveled Floors

If you have noticed your floorboards warping, bending, or becoming uneven, you’re likely wondering why this is happening. Issues with the floor becoming unlevel are indicative of foundation problems. Other signs of foundation problems include cracks in the walls, exterior cracks, sticking doors and windows, and a visible slant to the home.

Over time, foundation can gradually begin to sink, crack, settle, or shift. While there are many factors that can contribute to an uneven foundation, one of the largest culprits is soil and its moisture level. 

pier and post leveling

Too much moisture can cause the soil to expand, while too little moisture can cause it to contract. This can wreak havoc on a foundation’s stability, causing foundation damage that can lead to warped floors, cracked walls, and a host of other problems. The solution to this predicament is foundation repair and house leveling services that will permanently restore your home to its original level.

Why House Leveling

Foundation repair and house leveling might sound like big projects, but they are actually much more affordable than one might think. Repairing the structure of your home is a necessary investment needed to restore the structural integrity of your home and guarantee its lasting structural success. Foundation repair is the only way to permanently resolve foundation damage symptoms, such as warped floors, and guarantee the lasting safety of all residents and the property value of the building. House leveling is a restorative process that lifts the home back to a level position in order to provide an overall facelift. Not only does house leveling restore the home to its original evenness, but it fortifies the home to prevent future disrepair.

Without foundation repair, the home could continue to shift, warp, crack, and even entirely move off the property. This is especially dangerous for homes that are elevated, such as hillside homes, and homes in Southern California that are susceptible to extreme weather in the form of earthquakes, mudslides, and flooding.

house leveling los angeles

Floor Leveling Solutions

If you suspect that your home is suffering from foundation damage, it’s important to consult a professional contractor right away. California Foundation Works provides free no obligation inspections in order to evaluate your home and offer free project repair quotes. We repair multiple types of foundations, including slab foundation, pier and beam foundation, and the less common basement foundation. Homes with slab foundation have foundations mostly composed of concrete, while pier and beam foundations contain a mixture of concrete foundation beams, concrete columns or pads, and wooden beams. 

We always assess every home on an individual basis in order to craft custom repair solutions for each homeowner. No matter which type of foundation your home has, we’re here to help with our custom foundation repair solutions.  

The Leveling Process

In order to restore your home to its original position, floor leveling is a necessary process. While we customize each project in order to address specific foundation issues at their source, there is a general floor leveling process that many projects adhere to based on the foundation type. Pier and beam foundation is typically leveled by using a jack or a lift to carefully raise the home and attach beams to jacks underneath the house. This process is referred to as shoring, with careful attention paid to lifting the jacks in order to minimize internal damage. On the other hand, slab foundation issues are at times resolved by installing concrete piers and concrete or steel pilings after excavating areas of the home. The usage of steel push piers, helical piers, plate anchors, or hydraulic lift slab piers can all be included in repair solutions based on individual needs.

Our services include foundation replacement, foundation crack repair, sister foundation installation, foundation underpinning retrofit, soft story reinforcement, slab settlement and crack repair, hillside retrofitting, caissons foundation, and more.  

Related: Foundation Underpinning Retrofit with Piers

About Us

We understand that having a secure home is an invaluable necessity. Not only does it shelter and protect your loved ones, but it’s also a major investment. The last thing any homeowner wants is to see their property value plummet. It’s our number one priority to ensure the safety of all residents and the lasting structural success of your building.

No matter the type of project, we always ensure that the homes are brought up to current building codes. To offer only the best services, we carefully select our contracting crew so that members of our team represent top tier workers with pooled decades of foundation repair experience and project precision. 

foundation repair whittier

We encourage all homeowners to address any foundation problems as soon as possible before seismic activity and stormy weather has the chance to strike your home!

Have the floorboards in your house started to warp?

Are you concerned about the structural integrity of your Southern California home?

Don’t allow the chance for problems to worsen. Call California Foundation Works today to get started on your custom home repair solution!

Call California Foundation Works Today!
(323) 418-2239

window crack repair

Cracks in the Wall? Here’s What You Need to Know

foundation crack

Maybe you’re performing a routine home inspection or simply walking around your home when you notice something that would cause panic for any homeowner. A large crack has began to form in your wall, or perhaps a seemingly benign crack that you pushed to the back of your mind has alarmingly expanded overnight. Unfortunately, except in minor cases, there isn’t really such a thing as a benign wall crack. If you’ve noticed a crack, it’s time to call the experts in before any problems have the chance to worsen. However, there’s still no need to panic. Allow us to explain everything you need to know about cracks in your home’s walls so that you can get determine the severity of the damage and get the help you need for repairs.

Signs to Watch Out For

While cracks in the wall are likely a sign of a larger problem that will require professional intervention, the good news is that if you are vigilant about examining your home, you will be able to catch problems early on before they have the chance to worsen.

When inspecting your home for signs of damage, be on the lookout for cracks near door frames, horizontal cracks, particularly long cracks, many cracks clustered in one area, and wide cracks. Cracks that are greater than 1 inches wide should always be a cause for concern.

crack brick wall

There are a number of reasons why cracks form in walls. Some of the top factors include home settlement, too much moisture, weather changes, weight from heavy objects, and improper drywall installation. While we will discuss home settlement in depth shortly, moisture and weather are two culprits behind crack formation, since water is a major cause of foundation issues. However, improper installation or even just damage from heavy objects are also possible causes for crack formation that are not related to foundation issues.

crack in walls

What Do Cracks Mean?

When you notice cracks in your home, many thoughts likely go through your brain. In addition to the obvious how do I fix this?!, many also wonder how the cracks got there in the first place. Understanding why cracks occur is essential in order to prevent future crack formation. Though different cracks can indicate different problems within the home, it’s in the best interest of the homeowner to take any crack formation serious. If you’re trying to decide if the crack in your wall is the sign of a larger problem, there are certain cracks to be especially wary of.

Horizontal cracks, which can also be angled, are often an indication of foundation settlement. Foundation settlement can luckily be repaired in most cases if caught early on, though delaying repairs can lead to a rapid expansion of problems. Another strong indicator of foundation problems is cracks that form around the door frame.

To catch foundation issues in their earliest stages, examine framing for signs of cracks since they will often form around frames first. Wide cracks, long cracks, and a large number of cracks are all also signs of a larger problem with the home’s foundation. Though there is a chance that these cracks are due to construction errors, it’s important to err on the safe side and have the home’s foundation inspected if you notice any worrisome cracks.

Foundation Settlement 101

How does foundation settlement come about in the first place? Many homeowners take pride in the level of care they bestow upon their property. While fortifying your home through earthquake retrofitting and other preventative methods can secure your foundation, many homeowners don’t realize the necessity of such services until they notice their home’s foundation beginning to deteriorate. One of the top factors in foundation damage is soil condition, while extreme weather can also wreak havoc on an unsecured home.

Southern California sees a unique amount of extreme weather in the form of earthquakes, mudslides, and flooding. Over and under saturation of soil with moisture can cause it to expand and contract, creating an unstable and unhealthy foundation for your home. This can lead to foundation settling and the formation of wall cracks.

Solutions for Cracked Walls

While foundation damage does mean home repairs, it doesn’t have to spell disaster. Fortunately most cases of foundation damage, if not given the chance to progress, can be fixed with professional repair solutions that will not require replacing the entire foundation. If the contractor has determined that the crack is not related to foundation problems, then the crack can simply be sealed or the section of the wall can be replaced. However, it’s not recommended to fix cracks on your own before determining the root cause of the problem, since you could be covering up a larger issue that requires professional attention.

crack repair

That’s why it’s important to always have a professional determine if the cracks are structural, and thus require foundation repair, or are non-structural and can be easily fixed. While foundation repair might seem like a taxing endeavor, our team of contractors are more than happy to walk you through every step of the process if it’s determined that foundation repair is the necessary solution for your cracked walls.

Have you noticed cracks forming in the walls of your Southern California home?

Don’t give them the chance to worsen. Call California Foundation Works today to book your free home inspection and estimate. Let’s get started on discovering your home’s custom solution!

Call California Foundation Works Today! (323) 418-2239


Why You Should Install a Drainage System in the Spring/Summer


Drainage systems are necessary components of healthy homes. Improperly installed drainage systems can ruin landscaping and lead to water intrusion in your home, which may cause mold. In turn, this can cause costly and extensive repairs for the homeowner. However, not just any season is ideal for installing a drainage system.

Once the rainfall of the wet season has passed, it’s in the homeowner’s best interest to install a drainage system or make repairs to an existing system. The spring and summer months create the ideal time for drainage system work to be done for a number of reasons.

The Warm Weather Advantage

Take advantage of the warm and dry months to make drainage system installations or changes. Spring and summer provide fewer inconveniences than winter, which sees more rainfall and precipitation.

Though some might find it makes sense to install a drainage system during the wet months, when such a system is most needed, the installation process is actually made much more complicated if done during the wet season. 

Spring, and especially summer, provide little to no inconveniences when it comes to construction issues such as work halt due to rain or moisture saturated soil.


Summer and spring provide for drier soil that contractors find far easier to work with in order to guarantee the lasting success of the drainage system and speed up the time needed to install it.

Preventative Action against Flooding

One of the main reasons why the dry season is an ideal time for drainage installation is because it greatly reduces the likelihood of flooding. Any homeowner who has experienced flooding is well aware of the destruction it causes, and homeowners who are not familiar with such havoc should do everything in their power to prevent it from happening.

The dry soil of the summer makes for the ideal time for drainage system installation, though some homeowners might make the mistake of believing they don’t need a drainage system during the warm months.

However, sprinklers and yard irrigation systems can cause a severe amount of property damage, making a drainage system a necessity even when rainfall is not at its height. Not only can flooding damage a property’s curb appeal but over saturation of water can harm and even kill flowers and surrounding greenery. Prevent avoidable yard flooding by installing a drainage system at the most convenient time of the year before problems have the chance to exacerbate.


Ideal Temperature for Installation

There are other advantages to installing a drainage system during the warm, dry season.

Warm days and cool nights create the ideal opportunity for a contractor to inspect your property and most actually determine which areas require repair since this particular climate will allow water to be brought up through cracks as the sun warms the earth.

That way contractors can get the most accurate understanding of existing drainage failures in order to provide the best repair work based on the yard’s unique situation.

In contrast, cool temperatures can create issues for drainage installation since water trapped under the surface can freeze and not establish a proper drain flow during the installation. A frozen subgrade runs the risk of giving a false impression of drainage failures and needs. Additionally, surface repairs should be made during warmer weather.

Installing a drainage system in warm weather allows for permanent surface repairs to be completed at the same time so that your repair works can be completed in one convenient project.

Permanently Resolve Drainage Problems

Nobody wants a soggy yard filled with mud, dying plants, and water intrusion. End your drainage system failures once and for all by installing a system during the time of year when the ground is easiest to work with and existing problems are most apparent. The good news is that most drainage system failures can be resolved, since having a wet yard is, unfortunately, a common problem for homeowners. Repair your drainage system today or plan for new system installation in order to prevent problems from getting worse and causing harm to your property.


Are you concerned about the integrity of your home’s drainage system?

Are you considering installing a new drainage system to avoid future damage?

California Foundation Works is a professionally licensed drainage contractor that specializes in Southern California home repairs. 

We offer FREE estimate for drainage installation for homeowners.

Call us today to schedule

Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveways

driveway repair

Whether you’re building a new home or improving upon your current dwelling, driveways make for important areas of renovation. Damaged driveways can provide an inconvenience and unnecessary stress on your vehicle’s tires, while a freshly paved driveway can greatly improve the curbside appeal of your home. But when it comes to driveways, there are choices to make. What material will hold up best over time? What will give you the best value for your dollar? If you’re considering either repairing your current driveway or installing a new one, we’re here to compare asphalt to concrete on a variety of levels in order to definitively determine which material is best suited for your situation.

Overall Appearance

Asphalt and concrete are the two most traditional driveway material options. Though they are similar in certain factors, they also have a number of differences that are important to consider before deciding which option is better suited for your home. While asphalt and concrete are both composed from the same general material, stone and sand, they differ considerably in appearance.

When it comes to aesthetics, there is no right or wrong choice. It is up to the homeowner to consider which option better suits the home. One key way that asphalt and concrete differ is the adhesive in asphalt is tar, while the adhesive in concrete is cement.

Asphalt (top) vs. Concrete (bottom)

driveway installation los angeles

Asphalt, therefore, has a distinct black tar appearance that makes the driveway appear as though it is an extension of the road. In contrast, concrete is a far lighter color that can be tinted, engraved, stamped, or designed in a multitude of ways. Asphalt design options are far more limited, with the installation process leaving little room for the design customization that concrete can offer. However, it is possible to add a tint to the asphalt finish to deviate from the standard black, though concrete provides a significantly higher amount of stain and design options. Overall, it can be helpful to consider what driveway style prevails in your neighborhood if you want your home to smoothly blend in rather than stand out. Consider the appearance of your neighborhood driveways when deciding upon your own selection.

concrete driveway los angeles

Climate Conscious

Climate is an important factor to consider when it comes to choosing your building materials. You’re going to want to use materials that are best suited for your unique climate, especially if it veers on either end of the extreme weather spectrum. Cold and freezing winters can wreak havoc on concrete, causing it to crack and blemish with frequent frost. Another factor that cold climate homeowners have to consider is that the salt used to melt ice can leave concrete driveways tarnished. However, if you live in an area that doesn’t see regular snow and frost, these concerns aren’t likely something you’ll have to worry about.

In contrast, asphalt is known to have issues in extremely hot weather. The tar that is used as adhesive in asphalt can soften in the extreme heat of summer, leaving it tacky upon touch and opening the possibility for surface blemishes. Overall, concrete is better suited for warm temperature areas since it cracks in the cold, while asphalt is favored in cooler climates since it softens with high heat. Since climate plays such a big role in regulating the durability of your driveway, it’s important to consult a professional contractor before committing to either option.

Considering Cost

Another factor that homeowners have to consider is the cost of installation. On average, concrete clocks in as the costlier option, with customization playing a factor in the overall bill. Asphalt, with its limited installation options, almost always provides a cheaper option for homeowners. On average, installing each square foot of asphalt will cost from between $2.50 to $4.00, while each square foot of concrete can average from $4.00 to $6.00. Factoring in stains, finishes, and detailing, a square foot of concrete could run as high as $15.00 or more. However, installation cost is only one part of the overall price equation. In addition to material, other factors that can aggravate overall project cost include the dimension of the driveway, any drainage features, design elements, and surrounding landscaping.

Maintenance and Care

Maintenance is a key factor that contributes to the lifetime cost of a driveway. While providing a cheaper installation option, asphalt is also more susceptible to wear than concrete. Roughly six months after installation, asphalt will require sealing, which will then need to occur every three to five years afterward.

On the other hand, sealing a concrete driveway is optional and will only need to occur one time. However, though asphalt is more prone to wear than concrete, it also is easier to repair. Asphalt cracks can easily be blended, while concrete repairs tend to stand out more in appearance.

Concrete driveway installation los angeles

When it comes to the lifespan of your driveway, asphalt driveways are estimated to last 20 years, while concrete driveways clock in at double with a 40-year lifespan estimate. However, these numbers can fluctuate based on the level of care. That means that proper preservation can extend these numbers, while failure to care for your driveway can drastically reduce them. Regular sealings can extend the lifespan of an asphalt driveway to 30 years, while concrete driveways are known to surpass 50 years with excellent care. Overall, asphalt proves to be the more high-maintenance option, especially in harsh climates.

driveway repair los angeles

Additional Factors

There are also a number of additional factors to consider. While both materials require time to cure before they are able to be driven on, concrete requires days, while asphalt only needs hours. While it is the more expensive option, concrete is also the more durable material. By nature, asphalt is softer and more susceptible to wear, though proper maintenance can easily balance this downside.

Asphalt also provides the possibility for resurfacing to leave the top of the driveway with a brand new coat. The same cannot be done for concrete, so the situation is more dire if it reaches extreme levels of disrepair.

Before you commit to either option, be sure to check that you are not violating any local building codes. Professional contractors will be able to assist in this area to ensure that there are not any specific guidelines that need to be followed. Additionally, if you live in a development, your Homeowner’s Association may have certain restrictions that you must abide to. Unfortunately, these restrictions can often be rigid, leaving little room for personal preference.

Are you looking to install a new driveway or repair an existing one?

California Foundation Works is a licensed concrete driveway contractor that specializes in the design and construction of driveways that best suit the Southern California environment.

Call today to discuss your options! We repair cracked, buckled, and water pooling driveways!

We offer a FREE estimate for homeowners.

soft story

4 Steps to Soft Story Retrofitting

soft story retrofit

The process of soft-story retrofitting, step by step

Soft-story structures are a growing concern for Southern California residents, with thousands of multi-story buildings in the Los Angeles area suffering from a weak first floor that compromises the structural integrity of the entire building.

The issue has escalated for the City of Los Angeles to the point where it’s no longer a choice whether or not to update buildings with weakened first floors.

California foundation works soft story

Following the passing of Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 in 2015, approximately 13,500 buildings in the Los Angeles area have been slapped with a mandatory soft-story retrofit requirement. Hearing your building needs to comply with the Los Angeles seismic retrofit ordinances might seem like a justifiable reason to stress. However, the process is far more manageable than it might seem. Allow us to break down the soft story retrofitting process in four easy to follow steps in order to discuss the ordinance notice, professional inspection and estimate, obtaining plans for approval, and finally getting the job done.

soft story retrofitting Los angeles

Step 1: Ordinance Notice

The first step in determining if you need a soft story retrofit is the arrival of an ordinance notice. Once your building has received an ordinance notice mandating a retrofit, there will be certain timelines that need to be complied with in order to avoid the risk of demolition.

Ordinance 184081 states that the owner will have two years to submit a structural analysis for review and approval once a formal service of the order has been received in the mail.

The structural analysis will either have to demonstrate existing compliance, demonstrate a proposed structural evaluation to meet the current seismic retrofit requirements or show plans for the demolition of the building. One of these three options will need to be provided. The owner will then have three and a half years from when the original service of the order was received to obtain all permits needed for either the demolition or building rehabilitation. All work for the entirety of construction or demolition will need to be completed within seven years of the service order.

Step 2: Inspection and Estimates

The next step in the soft story retrofitting process is scheduling an inspection from a professional contractor in order to obtain an estimate for the costs.

The contractor will be able to evaluate the extent of the building’s damage and determine approximate costs for the project. The hired contractor will need to ensure that the seismic evaluation will fully bring the building up to current codes under existing ordinances.

soft story retrofitting in La

The inspection and estimates will lead to the formulation of plans by the contractor. When drafting the plans for the soft story retrofit project, there are common issues that are important to avoid. Avoid plans that reduce or alter parking availability on the property, since this can create friction with the city for approval of the project. Plans that have a well-balanced ratio and distribution of windows, door openings, and wall space are more likely to be readily approved by the city without any unwanted issues. Keep in mind that the cost of the project will depend on a number of factors, including the level of hazard, the extent of retrofitting work needed, and the extent of current building decomposition.

In order to apply for a building permit, there will be a number of permits that need to be completed, as well as site plans, architectural plans, structural plans, and full project details. Fortunately, a trained contractor will be able to walk the building owner through this process. Failure to comply with the soft story retrofit plans can lead to the property being slapped with a Notice of Violation, which could lead to serious legal problems. Additionally, weakened buildings are left vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters.

soft story retrofitting plans

Step 3: Getting the Plans Approved

There are several components to submitting a plan for soft-story retrofitting, including the preliminary meeting, formal submittal, and house habitability plan. Working with a professional contractor will require little effort from the building owner, as contractors are experienced in handling this process. Before the formal submittal, the contractor will sit down with a city engineer at a preliminary meeting and review their soft-story retrofit plans. At this point, the city engineer will be able to provide valuable feedback before the plan is formally submitted by the contractor to the city.

The inspection and estimates will lead to the formulation of plans by the contractor. When drafting the plans for the soft story retrofit project, there are common issues that are important to avoid. Avoid plans that reduce or alter parking availability on the property, since this can create friction with the city for approval of the project. Plans that have a well-balanced ratio and distribution of windows, door openings, and wall space are more likely to be readily approved by the city without any unwanted issues. Keep in mind that the cost of the project will depend on a number of factors, including the level of hazard, the extent of retrofitting work needed, and the extent of current building decomposition.

To formally submit the plan, an application form needs to be filled out and appropriate fees will need to be paid. On average, the first round of corrections should take a month after the plan is submitted formally. At this point, a meeting will be arranged for the contractor to go over the corrected plans with a plan checker so that the plans can be approved. Additionally, it is necessary to fill out a tenant habitability plan with the Department of Housing. This can be done electronically and usually takes only five days to be approved.

On average, be prepared to spend between $850 to $1200 for smaller projects and up to $5,000 for larger projects when it comes to planning check fees. Are you pressed for time? While normal submittal time for a project engineer to approve a project is 30 days, you can expedite the process at an additional fee. Requesting an expediting service is something to keep in mind if time is an important factor.

Step 4: Getting the Job Done

After all of the inspections, plans, and formalities have been finished, the final step is to complete the entirety of the construction project. By nature, soft story buildings are structures which contain a first story that is noticeably weaker than the stories above it. This is most common in buildings that have large areas open for parking.

Strengthening the building is a necessary precaution because buildings with a weakened first story run the risk of the entire structure being compromised.

The best solution for this issue is to perform a seismic upgrade so that the risk of collapse during an earthquake is greatly diminished.

Commercial retrofitting los angeles

In order to get the job done and ensure for the future structural success of the building, it’s essential to bring in a team of professional contractors. The soft-story retrofitting process includes breaking up the existing concrete slab and installing new reinforcement beams underneath the old concrete poles. This will reinforce the structure for adequate support. Next, concrete will be poured in order to reinforce the beams, which will leave the structure stabilized. In order to comply with retrofit requirements, it’s essential to have the project completed before the deadline. If your building is in need of a soft story retrofit, be sure to consult a professional contractor today.

With the help of the right team of contractors, dealing with a soft story retrofit can be made more than manageable. If you received an ordinance notice in the mail, or if you’re concerned about the structural integrity of your building, call today to book your free home inspection!  

Thinking about retrofitting for your soft story building? got a notice about the soft story retrofit ordinance?

Call California Foundation Works to schedule a Free estimate for property owners

Garage conversion in los angeles

5 Reasons Why You Should Convert Your Garage Now

Garage Conversion Los angeles

What Is Garage Conversion?

You might not realize it, but you could be sitting on some untapped space. Many Southern California homeowners have a hidden jackpot lodged on their property in the form of a garage. Rather than use this space to store your vehicle (or more likely a lot of junk), consider the enormous opportunities that garage conversions provide. There are a number of reasons to make getting a garage conversion your next lucrative venture, whether it’s for profit, pleasure, or a perfect blend of both.

Garage conversion in los angeles

1. Elevated Property Value

Let’s be realistic, adding value to our properties is something that all homeowners want. No matter the steal you got on your home, it’s always in the homeowner’s best interest to see their property value skyrocket. Converting your garage into a useable space is an ideal way to give your property value a healthy boost. Garage conversions can be financially lucrative in a number of ways.

Garage conversions will provide extra livable property space that will lead to a significant rise in property value, and they will also open the door for additional income streaming if you choose to rent out the space. Buyers will view the extra space as a huge bonus if you’re looking to sell, with the added value easily covering the conversion cost. For those who aren’t looking to sell their home, there are numerous ways a converted garage can pay for itself.

2. Additional Income Source

Garage conversion services open homeowners up to the opportunity to stream additional income. The demand for rentable space in other people’s home is huge these days, especially if you’re living in an area as popular to tourists and business folk as Southern California. Hotels have become a thing of the past, replaced by room and home renting services such as Airbnb, HomeToGo, and FlipKey. It’s easy, convenient, and financially lucrative to have a space to rent out to travelers.

Being able to rent out your garage, as opposed to an extra room in the house, has an added bonus for homeowners because you don’t have to deal with having strangers in your house. Converted garages provide detached spaces to draw profits. Rent out the converted space just to pay off the project, or continue to rent after you break even to pull in an extra monthly income. The best part is the choice is entirely yours, and you can decide at any time to make the space public or private!

Garage conversion los angeles

3. Extra Space to Enjoy

Where do you retreat to in times of stress? Imagine having your own private room to disappear to when the main house feels too chaotic. We all love our spouses, children, and friends, but sometimes a little bit of personal space is gladly welcome. Converting your garage into livable space will provide the extra square feet to use however you please.

The extra area could be used as a personal den or an added guest bedroom for housing friends and family. Maybe you have a friend who is down on their luck and needs a place to crash for a few weeks or you have an elderly relative who you want to keep close to home without entirely disrupting your privacy. 

An extra bedroom is the perfect solution for keeping your options open. At the end of the day, converting your garage is the most affordable way to meet the growing demand for extra space.

4. Ability to Work Remote

Garage conversions can transform more than just your property value. They can create a peaceful oasis ideal for working from home. Living spaces can easily become overcrowded, especially with the addition of new tiny faces. Transform the way you live by building yourself an office sanctuary so you can work from home without the distractions. Enjoy all the comforts of having the main house within your reach while still having an area to focus in that is entirely your own.

Garage conversions are the most practical option for building some much needed extra living space. Even if you have the time and money for adding an additional room to your house, you’d still have to go through the process of securing permits and permission from both your Homeowner’s Association and your town. Rather than face rejection or have to cope with eating up valuable yard space by expanding your house, consider the enormous advantage of turning your garage into a self-contained living space that can boost your career.

5. Have Your Dream Room

When it comes to garage conversions, the opportunities are endless. Feel free to be as creative as you please with the new space. Transform your musky garage into your dream studio. Make it the ultimate game room that will be the envy of both your friends and your children’s friends. Or perhaps you are interested in creating the ideal family room to house unforgettable memories with loved ones. The decision is entirely up to you!

The great news is it’s not difficult for professional contractors to install utilities, such as those needed for kitchens and bathrooms, in your converted garage. Having your own fully functioning space is an entirely realistic dream. Unlike building an addition or dealing with an extensive home renovation project, garage conversions are not time-consuming. That means that your dream space is entirely within your reach.

Act Now

Are you ready to untap your property’s potential and convert your garage? Contact us at California Foundation Works today to begin your garage conversion journey. Our expert team of contractors will work with your every step of the way to deliver an ideal living space that matches your unique vision.

Are you thinking about converting your garage? need an extra income a month?

Call California Foundation Works to schedule a Free estimate for homeowners

Foundation Crack

5 Reasons Why Foundation Erodes

Foundation Crack

Poor Drainage

The most common type of foundation damage is caused by water over-saturation of the soils surrounding the foundation. The expansive soils increase in volume as they come into contact with more water so they exert pressure on the foundation and create cracks which in turn allow water seepage into the foundation. Expansive soils are also known as clay soils and are usually found in coastal areas, that’s why most of Los Angeles is covered in clay soils. Foundation settling or sinking is when the soil under the foundation compacts and ends up forming spaces below the foundation which causing it to sink. If the water causes the soil under the foundation to swell, that will raise the foundation a little and then cause foundation settling when it dries up as it shrinks.

yard gutter


The weather has a big effect on the house foundation. One important aspect is humidity; it has a tendency to adversely affect foundation, which can cause it to weaken and deteriorate. Over time, this lowers the resistance of the concrete and lessens its stability. Early warning signs of foundation damage include foundation cracks, white powder, basement humidity, brittle joints in concrete foundation blocks, concrete falling off, exterior cracks, and bubbles in the foundation. Be sure to regularly inspect your foundation in order to pick up on warning signs. Addressing the issue early will prevent costly repairs in the future.

Underpinning Repair


The most common type of foundation damage by storms is caused by water over-saturation of the soils surrounding the foundation. The expansive soils increase in volume as they come into contact with more water so they exert pressure on the foundation and create cracks which in turn allow water seepage into the foundation. Expansive soils are also known as clay soils and are usually found in coastal areas, that’s why most of Los Angeles is covered in clay soils. Foundation settling or sinking is when the soil under the foundation compacts and ends up forming spaces below the foundation which cause it to sink. If the storms flood and cause the soil under the foundation to swell, that will raise the foundation a little and then cause foundation settling when it dries up.

Poor Pre-Construction Compaction of the Foundation Site

A house foundation depends on the uppermost soil layers. These layers are stabilizing the whole foundation and provide the supports for the structure. If the soil is not one that can bear the weight or wasn’t properly compacted during grading phase of the job site, the foundation is prone to settlement as the soil that supports it consolidates.

Another concern is the various soil conditions. The house may settle differentially because of different conditions in different soils that support the house foundation. In this case, the foundation system should be designed specifically for the various soil condition in the foundation site.

foundation replacement


Time is a huge factor, all the reasons mentioned above are amplified as the time factor is taking into account. As mentioned before, the foundation process to newly built homes has evolved with time and nowadays the method of this process results in a stronger foundation that can endure for longer. The combination of all the reasons above shortens the lifespan of the house foundation and speed up the deterioration process.

Are You Concerned About Your House Foundation? Did You Notice Some Signs That Your Foundation May Be Damaged?

We Offer FREE Inspection For Your House Foundation. Call California Foundation Works To Schedule

foundation damage

Understanding The Causes of Foundation Damage

Foundation Repair

Understanding The Causes of Foundation Damage

The durability of a house relies on a solid foundation. As the base of the house, the foundation secures the building to the ground. If the foundation of integrity is upset, a host of problems can subsequently adversely affect the house and its stability. It’s important to understand why foundation crumbles and what to do if you spot deterioration.

Bricks Crack

Why Does Foundation Weaken?

Why does foundation deteriorate in the first place? Humidity has a tendency to adversely affect foundation, which can cause it to weaken and deteriorate. Over time, this lowers the resistance of the concrete and lessens its stability. Early warning signs of foundation damage include foundation cracks, white powder, basement humidity, brittle joints in concrete foundation blocks, concrete falling off, exterior cracks, and bubbles in the foundation. Be sure to regularly inspect your foundation in order to pick up on warning signs. Addressing the issue early will prevent costly repairs in the future.

What Causes Foundation Crumble?

Foundation deterioration is a major issue because it can put residents at risk. It also adversely affects property value. What causes the foundation to actually crumble? Several factors can cause lasting home damage. In addition to humidity, urban development is known to cause concrete damage. Concrete is more susceptible to weakening when the house is located in high traffic areas. The geographic area also plays a role in the house’s stability due to factors such as soil composition, which affect the stability of the concrete. Lastly, concrete has evolved over the past century. Older houses were likely built with a weaker concrete mixture, which means their foundations likely need to be repaired or replaced. Regulations have become more strict in recent times, making newer homes more likely to be adequately secure.

Related: Why You Should Hire A Professional Foundation Contractor To Build Your Retaining Wall?

How to Address Foundation Damage

Foundation damage is a sensitive issue, and homeowners will benefit from having an expert evaluate their situation. Trained professionals are needed to assess the foundation damage and determine the extent of the renovation in order to maintain the building’s integrity.

Related: Foundation Damage Caused By The Storms in Los Angeles

Mild to Moderate Cases

In less severe cases, foundation repairs can be performed in order to strengthen the building. This involves reinforcing the existing foundation by removing all deteriorating parts and applying a new concrete coat. With this method, only the damaged parts will need to be replaced. This type of repair can be beneficial for long-term structural improvement and is considered to be less costly.

Related: When Do Cracks Mean Structural Damage

Foundation Crack

Severe Cases

However, major structural damage will call for a complete foundation replacement. If the house structure is at risk, the building will need to be lifted so that the existing foundation can be removed and replaced with a newer foundation. Though this solution is more expensive, it is permanent and will ensure that the house has a foundation that meets current code standards. In order to avoid major repairs, it is advisable to regularly check your foundation for signs of damage.

Do you have concerns about your foundation integrity?

Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.

Foundation Underpinning Los Angeles

Foundation Underpinning Retrofit with Piers

underpinning foundation

Foundation Underpinning Retrofit with Piers

The foundation of your home is essential in providing the strength and stability of your dwelling. It creates a safe and comfortable space for your family to reside.

However, the foundation can wear over time. Whether it’s due to climate conditions, an old building, or other factors, foundation damage can both jeopardize the occupants and threaten the property value. This is where foundation underpinning can salvage a home.


What is an Underpinning Retrofit?

Foundation underpinning is a repair process that expands a building’s foundation in order to provide stability. Underpinning involves placing a solid foundation below ground level in order to secure the structure of the home.

Related: A Foundation Which Appears Level May Need Repair

How Do I Know My House Needs One?

It’s fairly easy to determine if your home is in need of underpinning. If the foundation of your home is significantly imbalanced, an underpinning retrofit will be needed to restore the structural integrity of the dwelling.

Related: How to Determine if Your Home Needs a Floor Leveling

Piering Process

Foundation underpinning retrofits are achieved through a technique known as piering, a process of installing concrete or steel pilings in the ground in order to support the foundation. This is a large project that requires the use of heavy machinery. There are three types of piers typically used in the process in order to level the foundation.

Related:Pier and Beam Foundation Repair and Leveling

Concrete Piers

Concrete piers are designed for use in highly-compressed areas in order to create a new foundation level. Since the piers are commonly between two and three feet of length, they are often installed via tunneling. Due to their length, concrete piers are known to be a less expensive piering material. However, the lessened cost comes with a catch. Since concrete piers are only driven into the ground in a relatively short way, they will likely shift over time due to soil pressure. Concrete piers should stay in place for up to 20 years, but another foundation retrofit might be needed in the future.

Steel Piers

In contrast, steel piers are a more expensive option that can be driven into the ground all the way down to the bedrock. Steel piers should guarantee a secure foundation for the duration of the home’s life. Steel piers are believed to create a new foundation level in a more effective and permanent way than concrete piers. However, because steel piers are much longer, they will take more time and effort to be installed. Steel piers are the difference between putting a long-term bandaid over a problem and curing it for good.

Underpinning Repair

Helical Piers

The third pier option is helical piers. Like steel piers, helical piers can be drilled up to the bedrock. However, the shape of helical piers sets them apart from the other two options.

Helical piers have ridges on them similar to a screw. This makes them much easier to drill into the ground, and they take up far less space within the ground. For these reasons, helical piers have become to go-to pier choice of many contractors. However, you should always consult a foundation expert before selecting a pier. A professional will evaluate the situation and tell you which choice will be best for your specific repair.

Are you concerned about the foundation of your home? Do you need an expert’s opinion?

Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate.

foundation replacement in los angeles

When Is Foundation Replacement Necessary?

Foundation Crack

When Is Foundation Replacement Necessary?

When it comes to protecting the investment value of your home, it’s essential to maintain the integrity of your house’s foundation. If the foundation has been compromised, the selling value of the house will drastically drop.

In addition, it can be dangerous for residents to live in a home with an unstable foundation. In less severe cases, damaged areas of foundation can be repaired. However, this won’t cover severe cases of foundation damage. Though it is a costlier solution, full foundation replacement is necessary in severe cases of foundation corruption. How do you know if your home falls in this category? Read on to discover the situations in which foundation replacement is necessary.

foundation replacement

Signs Replacement Is Necessary

Though full wall or foundation replacement may be more expensive than simple repairs, it will provide a lasting solution to your foundation issues that will be sure to secure your property value. What are signs that replacement is inevitable? If you can pull pieces of mortar out of the wall or if the mortar is eroded to the extent that it has become chalky and flaky, a wall replacement is likely necessary. A replacement is also needed if pieces of the foundation block are protruding or there is considerable foundation block displacement. Other signs of replacement include the wall tipping or bowing beyond the point of recovery, holes in the foundation material, and twisted foundation blocks that have caused cracks or displacement in the corner of the walls. Additionally, if pieces have begun to fall away from the wall, it is likely time for a wall upgrade.

Related: When Do You Need A Foundation Replacement ?

Foundation Crack

Why Is Replacement Needed?

Extreme home renovations can seem like an overwhelming task for the average homeowner, but our professional contractors can evaluate the situation and provide custom solutions. Foundation replacement is often needed in older buildings since material guidelines used to be more slack. Homes built in the earlier part of the 19th century are more susceptible to foundation decay and damage. Many of these foundations have deteriorated past the point of salvation. However, foundation deterioration is not an issue exclusive to older buildings. The poured concrete that is typically used in newer house construction can also provide foundation failure. The construction of a new concrete wall by contracted professionals can ensure that the foundation is up to code to guarantee lasting foundation stability.

No matter how severe your foundation decline is, rest easy knowing that experts can help.
Do you have concerns about your home’s foundation?

Call California Foundation Works to schedule a free foundation inspection and estimate. Let’s come up with a solution together.

bad drainage foundation damage in los angeles

Yard Drainage Installation for California Homeowners

Yard Drainage

Yard Drainage Basics

In order to ensure for the structural integrity of your home, you must have a proper drainage system. A drainage system needs to be installed because of it essential that water does not pool near the home’s foundation. This can threaten the foundation of the home and jeopardize the structural integrity of the dwelling.

Without a proper drainage system, water can seep into the house and flood basements. This can cause mold in the walls of the home or large cracks, which will lead to costly and consuming repairs, as well as other expensive and invasive damage. Ensure that your home is waterproofed to protect it from invasive weather.

However, be sure to get permission from your city before you consider redirecting your drain pipes to the city sewer. This is where professional contractors can really assist with your yard drainage project.

Drainage Installation

Installation Options

Fortunately, there are a number of drainage solutions for homes experiencing issues with the direction of their excess water flow. Be aware that seeking a professional opinion is the best way to determine what solution will best fit your situation.

Related: Yard Drainage Solutions

French Drains

French drains are a common solution to drainage issues since they are easily covered and thus considered non-disruptive to the landscape. In simple terms, a french drain consists of a trench that is filled with gravel. Perforated pipes with holes in them run along the trench and are placed in the middle of the gravel, making them seldom noticeable since the drain is usually covered by soil or shrubbery. In order to ensure that your french drains do not have to be dug up and reconstructed in the future, make sure that they are properly constructed the first time. To drain effectively, the water in the soil passes through the overlaying gravel and drains into the pipe before being rerouted.

Related: What Is A French Drain ?

Downspout Rerouting

Water might be pooling near your home’s foundation if your rain downspouts are too close to your house’s perimeter. Consistent pooling of water near the foundation could cause serious foundation damage over time. One of the largest issues water in the foundation can cause is concrete cracking, which could lead to foundation repairs or in serious cases replacement. To have your downspouts structured for maximum home protection, ensure that they dump water at a minimum of three feet away from the house’s foundation.

Related: Foundation Replacement


Grading Implementation

A simple solution for drainage issues is to grade your yard’s soil so that it slopes downhill and away from the foundation. The slope should be a minimum of six inches to over ten feet steep. It is crucial to angle the slope the right way to ensure that the water will flow away at a proper pace and in the right direction.

Drainage Gutter

Other Options

Catch basins, dry wells, and sump pumps are all options for yard drainage installation. Catch basins are a good alternative to French Drains for houses with high clay content soils. Catch basins are able to collect water and redirect it through piping to storm sewers. For houses that are not near storm sewers, dry wells can be used to collect rainwater. Dry wells allow runoff water to be store so that it gradually enters the subsoil. Ensure that they are dug at a proper level to make sure that the water is both caught and capable of seeping into the subsoil. Lastly, sump pumps are saviors for extreme yard flooding. They are often installed if a home is not equipped with a natural slope for drainage.

For more information about Yard Drainage Solutions visit: Yard Drainage Los Angeles

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