Apartment owners come in all sizes and shapes, just like the complexes they own. Some owners bought their property as an investment while others may have inherited theirs from their parents or grandparents. What all apartment owners in Southern California have in common is the need to hire reliable soft-story contractors in Los Angeles.
LA’s mandatory retrofit program may seem like a nuisance, but it was created to keep residents in the city safe in the event of a major earthquake. Apartment owners that do not comply with the program will be charged with a misdemeanor and held accountable. But other consequences could arise that would make your failure to comply more costly than the retrofit.
Apartment owners risk and liability
Failing to comply with LA’s soft-story retrofit program leaves the property owner at risk for potential losses, disruption in income, and being held liable for injuries or deaths of your tenants. Carrying earthquake insurance on your property may save you money when it comes to damages and repairs after an earthquake. But you could still face steep losses in potential wrongful death lawsuits.
Getting your building retrofitted to make it more durable during an earthquake is the best way to reduce losses, injuries, and deaths. Anywhere but Southern California, earthquakes are considered a low-probability, high-consequence event. But records show that in the Los Angeles area alone, an average of 100 earthquakes rolls through the valley every year.
Almost all of these quakes are in the mild to moderate range. But even moderate quakes can wreak havoc on your building’s contents, non-structural systems, and cause serious injury to tenants or their visitors. Los Angeles has not felt a major earthquake since the Northridge earthquake of 1994. This time-lapse has caused many property owners and residents to feel a false sense of security.
Property owners need to understand and manage earthquake risks
Earthquake risk is the combination of exposure to hazards and the vulnerability of the building. This equation may help to simplify it: HAZARD x VULNERABILITY = RISK. It is the responsibility of the apartment owner to keep their tenants safe and their properties maintained. Most apartment complexes in the Los Angeles area have landed on the city’s list of buildings that need a seismic retrofit.
What a retrofit does is decrease the vulnerability of your building to earthquakes, which in turn lowers your risk. Many owners are not happy about being forced to pay for the cost of a retrofit. But they fail to see the benefits, lower insurance payments, fewer repair costs after an earthquake, the less likely chance of loss of income due to damages, and less money paid in costly lawsuits brought by injured tenants.
How vulnerable is your apartment building in an earthquake
The San Fernando Valley is very susceptible to an earthquake because much of it is built over the Santa Monic Fault Line. When the fault line ruptures it causes the earth to shake and move, usually over a very large area. This motion creates a powerful force that can actually cause large buildings to sway and move.
Most buildings were designed to resist the force of gravity, but the forces of a major earthquake are not the same. Horizontal forces of a seismic event cause rapid movement in the foundation and shifting of the upper stories. Without the necessary reinforcement of an earthquake retrofit, buildings collapse causing serious structural damage or complete destruction.
To assess how vulnerable your property is, you need to look at a number of factors:
- The structural design of the property
- The age of the building
- The care taken to keep it properly maintained
- The contents on the inside
- The use of the apartment building
These issues are what your soft-story retrofit contractors in Los Angeles will look at during their initial inspection. What they find will determine what type of updates your building needs, the material used, and how long the construction will take to complete.
Most Los Angeles residents are renters
Apartment owners need to stop seeing a retrofit as a burden and understand it is a “health and safety” issue. Let’s look at what your apartment complex means to you and your tenants. As the owner, your apartment building is part of, if not all, of your family’s income. Maybe you own multiple properties as part of your financial portfolio. For many owners, these properties are inherited and handed down through the generations. They are an investment in your and your children’s future.
For your tenants, this is their home. Their apartment is where their children are born and grow up. Where their family spends holidays and birthdays together. In a lot of the rent-controlled complexes, these apartments are also handed down through the generations. And affordable housing is hard to find in Los Angeles, so if the building is not taken care of, most of your tenants will be left without anywhere to live.
At RetroFitting 360 our professionally trained soft-story retrofit contractors in Los Angeles have been improving the vulnerability of many apartment complexes throughout the city. We offer a free initial consultation to get you started. Once that is complete, we will provide you with a detailed work plan that includes retrofit options for your property, an estimated cost of the work, and a timeframe for when it will be completed.
We know that the retrofitting process can be confusing and quite long. We will work with you every step of the way. We handle the retrofit design, the application for the construction permit, filling and filing the THP, and even contacting the city inspector at the end of the job. If you have any questions, please give us a call today.