Most seismic reinforcements of soft-story apartment buildings in Los Angeles require steel moment frames. The cost for each frame is between $18K to $25K. When possible, it is economically beneficial to reinforce the existing walls of the building by adding plywood or Special Cantilever columns to reduce cost.

Seismic Retrofit Design Economics: Value Engineering for Soft Story Building.

A city-approved set of plans usually cost between $5,000 for a small building to $8,000 for a large size building, Soft-Story engineering designs are not equal. Make sure to screen your Engineer carefully. Not all structural design are alike and even after your plans get approved by the City, a $5,500 plans may end up costing you more on the construction end.

The concept is called “Value Engineering”.
The City will approve all the Soft-Story design plans as long as it meets the minimum ordinance guidelines and requirements. The challenges for engineers are to analyze the complexities of each building and decide on the best possible solutions to keep cost down.

Experience Honesty and Integrity are the keys; Engineers should understand the importance of coming up with plans that take all of the design characteristics elements into account, provides “value engineering” that gets approved by the City save building owners money.

What Should Your Seismic Engineer Know?

The engineer should know when to use shear walls steel frames or cantilever column, are the right size of steel to use, the appropriate locations of the structural elements, based on existing conditions. The engineer should also avoid compromising parking and ensure the least interference to everyday life. Knowing where and how to place steel frames around the parking garage opening or how to use the existing walls is essential to a proper seismic retrofit design.

So, when it’s time to start your retrofitting projects, make sure to ask the right questions, and if you are not entirely satisfied with the answers, Feel free to contact us.
We will inspect your building for free, provide you with reasonable engineering and construction cost, mitigate the seismic retrofit issues of your building to full compliance with as less interference to your tenants and complete the work as soon as possible, so your tenants will have their parking back.