Soft-Story Retrofit: Upgrade Your Building Today

Posted on: 21 March 2022

Soft-story buildings are buildings with some floors made of weaker materials, making them vulnerable to earthquakes. An example includes buildings with large parking spaces between different floors or retail rooms with large open windows despite having other floors made of stronger concrete. These buildings need modification of the weaker levels to make them resistant to earthquakes. Retrofitting is the improvement of the weaker levels. Besides protecting your building from earthquake disasters, the following are some of the benefits of retrofitting a soft-story building:

1. Lower insurance

Insurance companies calculate the amount of premiums payable depending on the likelihood of the occurrence of a risk. The higher the possibility, the higher the amount. Because of their high vulnerability to earthquakes, soft-story buildings attract high insurance premiums. Retrofitting a building makes it stronger so that it can withstand earthquakes and other disasters. This reduces the likelihood of insurable risks occurring, reducing insurance companies' premiums. 

2. Increased property value

Most people look at the stability and safety of a building before buying or renting. Retrofitting your building gives you a market advantage over other soft-story structures because potential clients will feel safe from disasters. If your building lists as a retrofitted soft-story, it will attract higher rental prices and sale value than other soft-story buildings. Additionally, you can secure higher loans and mortgages with an increase in the value of your property.

3. Protection from liability and income loss

As a property owner, you are responsible for the structural integrity of your building. This means that you are responsible for any injuries to or deaths of your tenants or destruction of their property due to structural problems like a building collapsing on your property. Retrofitting your structure improves the structural integrity of your facility, thus helping you reduce the chances of liabilities. Additionally, it enables you to avoid the loss of rental income if your building were to be destroyed by earthquakes.

4. A measure against future regulation

With increased regulations on modern buildings' construction requirements, it is only a matter of time before retrofitting becomes mandatory for all soft-story buildings. Retrofitting your building now will save you from having to shut it down in the future when mandatory requirements take effect. You only need an inspection and a clearance license. This will save you from future losses and troubles with the authorities. 


Soft-story retrofitting is a critical structural engineering exercise that requires highly qualified and experienced engineers. The company should also be aware of the existing zoning laws and building regulations to keep up with the recommended standards.

Contact a contractor near you to learn more about soft-story retrofits