How We Can Exempt a Soft Story Retrofit


An apartment with tuck-under parking is an example of a soft story building, which is a multi-story building with a first floor that is significantly less rigid (soft) than the floors above. Due to unreinforced openings on the ground floor that produced considerably more movement than the soft story building could handle, the upper floors can collapse on top of it.

Your building might be exempt if any of the following four conditions is true:

  1. It was built after 1990.
  2. It has fewer than five residential units.
  3. You have documentation from Oakland's mandatory screening program of 2009-2010 showing an exemption approved by the City.
  4. The building does not have a collapse-prone condition called a "wood frame target story."

These laws aim to increase public safety and decrease earthquake-related structural flaws using the most practical and affordable means. A list of soft story buildings that require seismic retrofitting was compiled by the City of Los Angeles Department of Building Safety, or LADBS, over the course of more than two years. All specifications for a building to be in compliance by 2022 are laid forth in the Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Program.

You'll need to retrofit If the property has "tuck-in" parking, has two or three stories, and has more than three units. You will need to produce documents with the screening form filled out if you conducted a retrofit under AB-094 and the Voluntary Seismic Retrofit Program in order to be granted an exemption.

How do I know if my building is a soft-story?

A soft-story building is one that, due to its first floor's fragility, cannot support the weight of the stories above it in the event of an earthquake. Typically, the outer walls of the first floor would include sizable apertures such as garages, tuck under parking, or even sizable windows.

What are the other purposes of a soft-story retrofit?

  • Reduces side to side shaking
  • Strengthens walls
  • Walls get replaced by stucco, drywall, or steel frame

With SKS Construction, we provide our clients with a full-service design, engineering and construction company founded in 1987 in the City of Los Angeles, California. SKS Construction is recognized as a leader in engineering and construction of ADU’s, Seismic Retrofitting, and Balcony Repairs. Although SKS Construction has its specialty in seismic retrofitting, over the years they have been able to mold to the demands of the construction market. Design-build jobs for loyal clients from hillside projects, new construction, and even developments in growing cities.

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