A building is considered to be in a soft story condition if it has multiple floors that are built above an open area, for instance, a garage or a storefront, which is not designed to hold the weight of such a structure. This makes the building weak on more vulnerable during earthquakes or hurricanes. Most cities have laws requiring the retrofitting of such establishments to strengthen them and make them more resilient. To a homeowner, this might seem like a complicated and tedious process; this article provides useful information to guide you through the whole endeavor.
The first step is to find out whether your house requires retrofitting. One way to know this is by finding out how old the building is. If its construction was before the 80s, chances are it’s going to require a retrofit. Others built as recent as the 90s still need retrofitting. Some cities provide preliminary lists of buildings that are needed to go through the process, so look that up if you are not sure whether you need to retrofit your home.
A house built above an open space like a garage is another determinant that it needs a retrofit. When strong seismic forces hit such a home when it lacks reinforcements, it causes the top part of the building to collapse onto the bottom portion. Buildings with more than two wood frame stories also fall into this category. Structures with three or fewer units usually don’t need retro-fitting but ensure to have your house inspected by a professional if in doubt.
Earthquakes can affect a soft-story building in three catastrophic ways. It might cause the house to slide off from its foundation or completely overturn and lift off. Both of this problems can be taken care of by reinforcing the connection between the structure and its foundation. The forces can also cause the walls of the lower part of the building to collapse leading to the rest of the house to fall on top of it. Fixing this involves installing beams and other strengthening materials to the walls.
When it comes to how much it will cost you, it would not be accurate to give an estimate. You will require to get a professional to inspect the building to determine how much work the home needs. Technically speaking, the bigger the house, the more it will cost. And of course, the amount of labor and materials involved. It might be a bit, but it cannot be in comparison to the amount of damaged that would be caused it your home was to be destroyed by an earthquake.
Having the right material is only part of the success of the project. You need a good contractor to ensure that it all comes to fruition. When searching for a contractor, there are a few guidelines to consider;
- Confirm that they are licensed. Ask for a license number and confirm its eligibility online. Most licensed workers are diligent, honest, competent employees and that’s what you need.
- Compare various contractors. Don’t just go for the first licensed contractor you find, research various ones and pick the most suitable.
- Ask for a recommendation. Talk to people you know who have through the process before and take suggestions from them
- Verify the location and contact details of the business. Having this information will come in handy if any problems arise and you need to reach them.
- Make sure they are insured. This is important in case they are injured while working on your property
When the process is complete, make sure it is inspected by a verified government official to ensure that it is in accordance to the city laws. Mainly if you live in earthquake-prone areas, ensuring your safety and those of others is very crucial. It is always better to be safe than sorry.