A 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.
The most sure way of knowing whether your soft story building needs a soft story reinforcement is by hiring a professional to do an inspection but you can take notice of some signs of a soft story building that needs reinforcement. A soft story building that was built under building code standards that were enacted before january 1, 1978 will need reinforcements. Pre January 1, 1978 building codes aren’t effective in preventing earthquake damage to soft story buildings so any soft story buildings which were built before January 1, 1978 are likely to be severely damaged during an earthquake.
Another sign that your soft story building needs a reinforcement is if there is no proof of any previous reinforcement on your soft story building. If you can’t find any records of reinforcement on your soft story building then it most likely hasn’t been retrofitted. One of the most common signs used to determine if a soft story building needs reinforcement is if it consists of two or more wood frame construction. Usually the wood frame floors are weaker than the other floors and aren’t able to distribute the building weight between floors so they usually crumble in the event of an earthquake.
Related: Soft story solutions
Contact a soft story professional if you think you have a soft story building that needs reinforcement. Call California Foundation Works on 323-418-2239 to get a free* soft story building inspection and estimate.