What Affects The 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.

baja earthquake

How To Apply For The Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program

Los 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.baja earthquake

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 retrofitting in los angeles

Should You Retrofit Your Commercial Building ?

In 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 a half years.soft story retrofitting in los angeles

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 a 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 Retrofitting los angeles

Is Your Hillside Home Retrofitted ?

The 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.Hillside Retrofitting los angeles

In spite 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.

prepared for the next earthquake

Earthquake safety tips

The likelihood of a high magnitude earthquake in Los Angeles always seems to be on the rise as days go by.prepared for the next earthquake

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.

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!