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 Los Angeles 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 Los Angeles County 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 Los Angeles, 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.
Due to the high volume of seismic activity that Los Angeles 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.
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 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 solutions. 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.
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.
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.
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 a 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.
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 Los Angeles 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.
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 Los Angeles soft story retrofits.
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