Soft-Story Retrofits: A Brief Overview

Posted on: 15 April 2022

Soft-story retrofit is a structural engineering term for reinforcing a building that has weak spots in its foundation. These projects are often necessary when an earthquake has damaged a building, but they can also be undertaken as part of a routine maintenance program.

This article discusses what soft-story retrofits are, where they're needed, and how they improve your building.

How Do Soft-Story Retrofits Work?

As mentioned earlier, soft-story retrofits are earthquake-resistant construction components to reinforce weak first floors in buildings. They are often a good idea for multilevel structures where the first floor has large openings, such as parking garages, tuck-under parking, or retail spaces with big windows.

The unsupported openings make the whole building more vulnerable to collapse during an earthquake. A soft-story retrofit strengthens the first floor by adding shear walls, horizontal bracing, or steel moment frames to resist the force of the quake and keep the building upright.

The main aim of a soft-story retrofit is to improve the safety of your building and make it more resistant to future seismic activity. But there are many factors that dictate whether or not your building needs a soft-story retrofit, such as:

  • Age of the building
  • Type of construction
  • Building's location

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you need to have your building assessed by a qualified expert to see if a soft-story retrofit is necessary. The retrofit can make your building much safer in the event of an earthquake.

How Does a Soft-Story Retrofit Improve Safety? 

A soft-story retrofit will typically involve strengthening the weak spots in your building's foundation. This process can be done by adding bracing or other support structures to the building.

The addition of these support structures will make your building much more resistant to seismic activity and can help prevent serious damage in the event of an earthquake.

A soft-story retrofit can also improve the safety of your building by making it easier for people to evacuate in the event of an emergency. The retrofit will typically involve the addition of fire exits and other safety features that will come in handy in such situations.

How Can Soft-Story Retrofits Improve the Value of A Building?

Not only does a soft-story retrofit improve the safety of the occupants and reduce damage to the property, but it also makes the building more valuable. Retrofitted buildings are much more likely to be insured and can command higher rents. As a result, your building is more likely to fetch a higher sale price if you decide to sell it since it will be more attractive to potential buyers and renters.

A soft-story retrofit is a significant investment that easily pays off in the long run. So if you plan to sell your building in the future, have a soft-story retrofit carried out before you put your property on the market. This strategy will help you get the best possible price for your property.