Soft-Story Retrofit for Building Owners

Your building is one of your most important assets. The soft-story retrofitting process begins with you. Understanding the process and requirements is the critical first step in finding the right soft-story retrofit solution for your building.

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SF Ordinance and Retrofit Solutions

San Francisco

The Strong Frame® special moment frame: an ideal, safe and cost-effective solution

LA Ordinance and Retrofit Solutions

Los Angeles

The Strong Frame® special moment frame: an ideal, safe and cost-effective solution

Follow the Five Steps of the Soft-Story Retrofit

1. Understanding the Soft-Story Mandate

If your city has a soft-story mandate or ordinance, as San Francisco and Los Angeles do, you have already or will be receiving a notice to inform you that your building requires some kind of retrofit. These soft-story retrofit ordinances were put in place to protect the community's resiliency after an earthquake.

A sizable seismic event can have catastrophic effects on an entire city. When soft-story buildings fail, workforce recovery is halted and social services are strained. A city's ability to perform search and rescue, transport the injured to hospitals, or fight fires can be impeded by damage and debris, even if only a small portion of its multi-unit buildings collapse. Even those buildings that do not completely collapse will likely be unsafe to occupy until they are evaluated and repaired, which displaces the population and increases the demand for shelter beds. Earthquake retrofitting weak-story residential buildings has become a top municipal priority, as it helps create shelter in place for our communities.

To find out more information about your city's mandate, refer to each of their corresponding soft-story mandate informational websites.

2. Finding Soft-Story Retrofit Providers

Having an experienced engineer or architect design a soft-story retrofit solution, and a contractor to perform the work, is critical to successfully implementing a soft-story retrofit design. A licensed engineer will assess your building to determine the right design and products to use in the soft-story retrofit solution.

Some cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have hosted earthquake fairs that bring together designers, contractors, financial institutions and other vendors to bring awareness and education regarding the soft-story mandate.

To the right are links to these retrofit fairs as well as additional resources to find professionals who undertake soft-story retrofits.


3. Selecting the Right Soft-Story Retrofit Products

Simpson Strong-Tie has an extensive line of soft-story retrofit products that include Strong Frame® moment frames, Strong-Wall® shearwalls and a broad line of wood connectors and anchoring systems that can help reinforce your soft-story building against collapse.

See our product page for more details about each product and how they work together to strengthen your building's resiliency.

4. Ensuring Proper Installation of Your Soft-Story Retrofit Products

Since our products are factory built, they can easily be installed with minimal job-site fabrication. And because there is no welding involved — and thus no fire hazard — our solutions allow your tenants to remain occupying the building throughout the soft-story retrofit process.

Visit our video library to view how our soft-story retrofit products are installed.

5. Inspecting Your Soft-Story Retrofit

A soft-story retrofit requires certain work to be inspected by a Special Inspector for quality assurance purposes. It is the responsibility of the building owner to obtain a Special Inspector. The City and County of San Francisco Department of Building Inspection has issued a list of Recognized Special Inspection and Testing Agencies.

City of San Francisco Recognized Special Inspection and Testing Agencies List (pdf)