Frequantly Ask Questions
Q: What is a retrofit or retroffiting ?
A: Retrofit is an improvement to your building by altering or adding any structural elements.
Q: What is a seismic retrofit ?
A: ​The modification of existing structures to make them more resistant to seismic activity, ground motion, or soil failure due to earthquakes.
Q: What is a soft story building ?
A: ​It is a multi-story building in which one or more floors have windows, wide doors, large unobstructed commercial spaces, or other openings in places where a shear wall would normally be required for stability as a matter of earthquake engineering design. A typical soft story building is an apartment building of three or more stories located over a ground level with large openings, such as a parking garage or series of retail businesses with large windows. Buildings are classified as having a "soft story" if that level is less than 70% as stiff as the floor immediately above it, or less than 80% as stiff as the average stiffness of the three floors above it. Soft story buildings are vulnerable to collapse in a moderate to severeearthquake in a phenomenon known as soft story collapse.
Q: How do I know if the foundation of my house needs to be seismic retofitted?
A: Homes built prior to 1940 in Los Angeles were built without being bolted to their foundations.  Without this anchorage, a large earthquake can move the ground and the foundation right out from under the house.  Older homes were damaged or destroyed in this manner by every major earthquake in California's history. Some wood frame homes built as recently as the 1970's were shaken off their foundations in recent earthquakes.  Even though these modern homes were bolted down, they failed because of weak bracing materials on the cripple walls.
Q: What is a cripple wall ?
A: It is a wall that is less than full story height. The cripple wall usually occurs between the first floor and the foundations and is generally the weakest part of older buildings. These cripple walls are weak typically sheathed with only stucco or horizontal wood siding on the exterior side of the wall.
Q: What is a retaining wall ?
A: It is a structure designed to restrain soil to unnatural slopes. They are used to bound soils between two different elevations often in areas of terrain possessing undesirable slopes or in areas where the landscape needs to be shaped severely and engineered for more specific purposes like hillside farming or roadway overpasses.
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