3 Outstanding Reasons To Retrofit A Soft-Story Building

Posted on: 19 January 2022

According to statistics by FAO, an average of 3.5 million individuals are affected by earthquakes annually. If you are a homeowner, you shouldn't face this type of disaster unprepared because it can damage your possessions and harm your loved ones. Therefore, you should put measures in place that help you mitigate the adverse outcomes of earthquakes. One of these involves using soft-story retrofits. Keep reading to discover more about this solution and reasons to use it.

Definition of Soft-Story Retrofits

A soft-story retrofit is a component added to soft-story buildings for reinforcement. Their main role is to help structures with stories that have weak lateral load resistance hold up better during earthquakes. Therefore, soft-story retrofits help property owners boost the safety of everyone close to or inside buildings. They primarily do that by reducing side-to-side shaking because it's the main reason weaker levels in soft-story structures collapse. The most popular retrofitting options include plywood shear walls, concrete shear walls, and momentum-resisting steel frames. As the names suggest, plywood is the dominant material in plywood earthquake-resistant shear walls. On the other hand, concrete shear walls contain vertical or horizontal reinforcements, and momentum resisting steel frames are essential in retrofitting steel structures against the effects of seismic waves.

Reasons to Use Soft-Story Retrofits

If you are unsure about retrofitting your building, consider the following:

1.       Avert disaster

Earthquakes are often dangerous because they have adverse consequences, including ground shaking, ruptures, tsunamis, liquefaction, and landslides. All these cause immense damage, with collapsing buildings being top on the list. A collapsed building causes financial losses, injuries, and in extreme cases, loss of life. Fortunately, you can use retrofitting to protect your property if it has structurally weak first stories likely to collapse in an earthquake. You can do the same for multi-story structures with at least one floor containing wide doors, windows, or any other sizable openings that need to be stabilized by a shear wall.

2.       Compliance

Many state authorities require property owners to strengthen vulnerable structures seismically. That is more so in residential buildings that experts consider soft-story that are highly predisposed to collapsing in an earthquake. A soft-story building, in this case, can be a multi-storied apartment complex with large ground-floor openings like parking garages and slender columns fitted to support the upper levels. Check your local ordinances to determine if soft-story retrofitting is a prerequisite in your state. That is the best way of ensuring you don't break the law.

3.      Avoid legal and financial problems

Some states have laws that hold property owners responsible for their buildings' structural integrity, regardless of their awareness of prevalent structural deficiencies. If you live in any of these states, expect liability when an injury or death affects a tenant. When your building collapses in an earthquake, you lose tenants and incur losses; both these issues can be litigated and turn into a costly legal battle for you. So, why shouldn't you retrofit your structure and avoid all these problems?


What's In a Contract?

Those who build things and repair things for a living are often referred to as contractors. This may seem like an odd term, but it traces back to the fact that these folks work on a contract-by-contract basis. First, they may work under a contract associated with your home. Then, they may take on another client under a new contract. Plumbers, HVAC repair teams, builders, painters — they are all contractors in some way. Construction workers are also contractors. We encourage you to read and learn more about their professions and what they involve here on this blog, where we'll post often.

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