SF Garage Company - Soft Story Retrofit, New Garages & Structural Upgrades
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Soft Story Retrofit

What are the city’s seismic retrofit programs?

The Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program (MSSP) requires that certain buildings, having the following attributes, comply with this program. More information can be found in San Francisco Building Code Chapter 34B.

·         The building is wood framed, as defined by the San Francisco Building code. 

·         The building was constructed before January 1st, 1978.

·         The building contains five or more residential units.

·         The building has three or more stories above ground, or two stories over a basement.

Any building meeting all of these conditions that has not already been retrofitted, is required to obtain a soft story retrofit permit.  There are many other buildings, however, that although they don’t fall under this legislation, still contain soft stories, and would benefit from a voluntary seismic retrofit. 

For these buildings, the Voluntary Seismic Retrofit Program, created in 2010, allows buildings with the following characteristics to be upgraded accordingly.  More information can be found in San Francisco Building Code Administrative Bulletin AB-094.

·         The building is wood framed, as defined by San Francisco Building code.

·         The building was constructed before May 21st, 1973.

·         The building has been determined to have a soft story through engineering analysis.

Performing a voluntary retrofit under this program entitles the building owner to the same benefits as those who are subject to the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program.

What are the costs and benefits of a seismic retrofit?

The cost of a seismic retrofit can vary widely based on many factors, including, but not limited to, the existing condition of the building, size, and who does the work.  Expenses include the cost of hiring an engineering firm to design the retrofit plans, paying for the permit itself, along with any expediting fees, and hiring a contractor to complete the construction. 

Benefits, however, are immediate.  For those subject to the mandatory program, the largest benefit is the elimination of notices of violation, and subsequent fines, for non-compliance.  In addition, any seismic retrofit will greatly increase the safety and structural soundness of the building, and increase its value.  Furthermore, other necessary or desired work can be added on to the permit for building improvements, and work on these can be done simultaneously with the retrofit, which cuts costs from doing these separately. 

To the benefit of building owners, new legislation was passed to allow for new units to be added to most buildings that have undergone mandatory or voluntary soft story retrofits.  This can increase the value of the building itself, while also creating additional income and increasing the city’s housing supply.

 

Soft Story Retrofits

The cost of a soft story retrofit can vary widely based on many factors, including, but not limited to, the existing condition of the building, size, and who does the work.  Expenses include the cost of hiring an engineering firm to design the seismic retrofit plans, paying for the permit itself, along with any expediting fees, and hiring a contractor to complete the construction. 

Benefits, however, are immediate.  For those subject to the mandatory program, the largest benefit is the elimination of notices of violation, and subsequent fines, for non-compliance.  In addition, any seismic retrofit will greatly increase the safety and structural soundness of the building, and increase its value.  Furthermore, other necessary or desired work can be added on to the permit for building improvements, and work on these can be done simultaneously with the earthquake retrofit, which cuts costs from doing these separately. 

To the benefit of building owners, new legislation was passed to allow for new units to be added to most buildings that have undergone mandatory or voluntary soft story retrofits.  This can increase the value of the building itself, while also creating additional income and increasing the city’s housing supply.

What SF Garage Co Can Do For You

Here at SF Garage Co, we specialize in seismic retrofitting.  Our firm can both help prepare plans for new units, design, construct, and engineer the soft story retrofit.  Our firm was one of the first to begin submitting permits under this ordinance, and we have the most experience of any company with the process and requirements. In addition, we work hand-in-hand with our sister engineering firm, Mercury Engineering, to offer easy and affordable construction.  Together, we can provide an all-in-one experience that no other company in the Bay Area can match.