Cal Retrofit Engineering Construction Management

Frequently Asked Questions


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Welcome to our FAQ page! Here, we provide answers to commonly asked questions about CalRetrofit. Whether you’re curious about our services, pricing, or project timelines, you’ll find all the information you need right here.

The purpose of this program is to reduce the risk of injury or loss of life that may result from the effects of earthquakes on wood frame soft-story buildings. In the Northridge Earthquake, many wood frame soft-story buildings caused loss of life, injury, and property damage. This program creates a guide for property owners to strengthen their buildings to improve performance during an earthquake.

LADBS has determined that your building meets all the following criteria:

  • Two or more stories, wood frame construction
  • Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978
  • Contains ground floor parking or other similar open floor space that causes soft, weak, or open wall lines

The SB721 and SB326 inspection aims to ensure that exterior elevated features and their associated waterproofing are in good condition, functioning properly, and free from hazards such as fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper modifications that could endanger the public or occupants’ safety, health, property, or welfare.” This bill was created after the tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley that resulted in six deaths, caused by the structural decay of the wood framing.

Exterior Elevated Elements (EEE) refer to structures such as balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways, and entry structures that extend beyond the exterior walls of a building. These structures have a walking surface that is more than six feet above ground level, are intended for human use, and rely on wood or wood-based products for structural support and stability. This includes their supports and railings.

Elements such as flashings, membranes, coatings, and sealants protect exterior elevated components from water and the elements are known as associated waterproofing elements.

Load-bearing components are constructed with wood or wood-based materials that extend beyond the exterior walls of a building. They feature a surface intended for pedestrian use and are at least 6 feet above ground level. Examples include balconies, decks, stairways, landings, walkways, and their supporting elements.

2 years to submit plans to retrofit. 

3.5 years to get the permit to retrofit or demolish.

7 years to complete the construction.

  • Lower Earthquake Insurance Premiums
  • Minimize Liability Losses
  • Save on Interest
  • Attract Tenants

    According to Caltech’s survey, the benefit-to-cost ratio of a soft story retrofit could be as much as 7:1 and since there’s a 99% probability of a big quake happening in the next 10 years, you should really get your soft stories retrofitted NOW.

The property owner must hire an engineer or architect licensed in the state of California to evaluate the strength of the building. The engineer or architect must then develop plans for the building’s seismic strengthening in compliance with this program. The owner must notify tenants in writing per HCIDLA regulations.