The Two C's

The Two C's

Soft Story Issues And Retrofit Options

by Floyd Dunn

Many preexisting buildings may not have been constructed to adequately withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes. A 'soft story retrofit' building is one that contains a base level floor that is much weaker in comparison to the upper floor levels. This type of building can be retrofitted to meet safety guidelines that are imposed in a particular jurisdiction.

A Soft Story Design And Potential Problems

A soft story design usually consists of a ground floor that is relatively spacious. A commercial building that contains a reception area, a parking garage, or a series of picture windows may utilize the ground floor for one or more of these features. Due to the presence of unreinforced walls and the lack of interior structural beams, a ground floor may be relatively weak and unable to withstand lateral force winds.

The upper floors of a building may contain offices or separate work areas. Interior walls and other stabilizing features can make an upper level resistant to high winds. A soft story design is prone to extensive damage. If high winds come into contact with a building that contains a weakened lower floor, this floor may collapse first. Once this occurs, the upper floors may fall down on top of the base floor. As a result of this type of design, the occupants of a building could face danger.

A Retrofit Project

A structural engineer and a contractor can work together to create a retrofit plan. Many business owners will likely want to retain the aesthetical and functional properties of an existing building. There are ways to increase the strength of a building, without compromising the design elements that are already present. Wind shear materials can be added to the exterior or interior walls.

Steel braces, beams, or panels can be used to reinforce sections of a lower floor that are not adequately protected. During an inspection of a building, a structural engineer will identify weak areas that are in need of additional support materials. A contractor will draw up plans that incorporate the use of additional materials.

Since there are many regions that require that buildings meet a specific set of guidelines, it is advisable that a business owner seeks upgrades for a soft story building. By doing so, a building owner will avoid lawsuits that are a direct result of someone becoming injured inside of a building that is weak. After a retrofit project is complete, the lives of people and the contents of a building may not be harmed during a dangerous weather event.


About Me

The Two C's

Welcome to a blog about the two C's. The two C's, as you might have already guessed are construction and contractors. These words are closely related. "Construction" refers to the art and science of building something. That something could be anything from a shed to a sidewalk. "Contractors" are the people who do the building. There are general contractors who do all sorts of building work, and then there are specialists who do work such as plumbing, electrical work, and drywall. Stop by and read a few articles when you have the time, and we promise you'll learn more about these two C's.