Soft Story and More – Why Do Building Fail



? Which buildings in your community are dangerous?

The large number of fatalities and damage here was greater than anticipated and can be attributed to several factors:

• A large portion of Mexico City is situated on an ancient sea bed and the underlying soil is very soft. This causes the amplification of ground motion to the built infrastructure. So although there are no faults in the city, events from far-away earthquakes are amplified and can generate large forces.

• After the 1985 earthquake, the building codes were modified and include good ductile detailing. However, compliance with the code is not always enforced, especially in outlying areas, and, in many cases, residents make alterations and additions to the buildings that can after alter these structures’ earthquake resistance.

• Damage assessment data from this earthquake is yet not available. However, preliminary data indicates that a large number of buildings with significant damage used either unreinforced masonry (URM) bearing walls or reinforced concrete construction of older vintage. These building types (especially with a soft/weak story or torsion) are most susceptible to earthquake damage and collapse.

• This event had a long duration for strong motion, resulting in buildings being subjected to a large number of shaking cycles.

Read Miyamoto’s official tech report on the Sept. 19 Mexico earthquake that collapsed at least 44 buildings in far-away Mexico City alone.

Raboso, Mexico 7.1 – 2017 Earthquake Tech Report

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Earth quake is a reality and it can happen anytime. Did you know?

 What level of retrofit is required?

Pursuant to LABC Section 3405.3, the damaged bearing walls shall be repaired to support the dead and live load combinations of the current Code. Other floor joists, walls, and foundations that support loads from the repaired bearing walls are required to be repaired and replaced when not capable of supporting the dead plus current live load combination.

 Find out how Foundation Technology can assist you to meet the requirements and pass your evaluation with flying colors!

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 To  learn  more  about  Foundation  Technology  and  the  services  we  offer Visit us on line at: or call: 855.650.2211

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This program caters to the Tenant Habitability Plan & Cost Recovery Guide for Property Owners. Foundation Technology informs its customers that we work along with these programs and encourage you to facilitate these programs that have been made to make things easier.

How the Program Works:

• Up to 50% of total seismic retrofit costs may
be passed through to tenants, if approved by
• The maximum rent increase is $38 per month
for 120 months. The recovery period may be
extended until the full approved amount is
• Seismic retrofit costs are divided among all
the units.

Foundation Technology Offers Seismic Retrofitting As A Service
Foundation Technology is the leader in Seismic retrofitting. Seismic Retrofits involves modifying existing structures, so that they are more resistant to seismic activity.

Contact Foundation Technology Today
To learn more about Foundation Technology and the services we offer Visit us online at: <ahref=””> or call: 855.650.2211

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Soft Story

“But what about my tenants?”


That’s one of the first questions most building owners will ask when they receive the notice to comply with their city’s seismic retrofit ordinance.

And it’s a legitimate question to ask. You have people living in your building. You may have retail space on the ground floor or office space where people are on the job every day. Your commercial tenants can’t just stop working. Your residential tenants should not be expected to find another place to live.

Your city’s Building Department knows your tenants’ point of view. Before the construction process even starts, you’ll need to have a plan in place to communicate with your tenants. This plan will detail exactly what the construction process entails and what kind of disruption your tenants might experience. Because if one tenant complains, your construction process could be delayed and that costs you both time and money.

The good news is—we take care of that plan. And the plan we design puts the needs of your tenants first. Here are some of the things your tenants will want to know:

  • When will the process start?
  • When will it be finished?
  • Will we have water, electricity, sewer, and other services during the process?
  • What days and hours will workers be on the premises?
Soft Story

Why Now

From your point of view as a building owner or manager, there are a few more things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, you may need to notify your tenants as much as 60 days in advance of when you plan the project to begin. There’s a period of time for them to appeal your plan, usually 15 days. You will have a specific period of time to complete the project and if the work is not done, you may be required to relocate tenants at your expense. It’s our goal to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Soft-story retrofitting, done properly, improves the safety and value of your property now and into the future. Go with the pros. Select a firm that has broad experience in this construction specialty. Foundation Technology is the go-to solution for your soft-story project.


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Earth quake is a reality and it can happen anytime. Did you know?

The following example illustrates how to determine if a newer building, constructed to the current Code, has sustained substantial structural damage and determine repair requirements for earthquake damaged building. The building does NOT require retrofitting.

Example 4 – Modern Building with Substantial Structural Damage: A timber single-family- dwelling built in 2015 wood shear walls experienced structural cracking of several plywood shear walls on the first floor. The engineer’s report identified the damaged wall will reduce the cumulative strength of the lateral load resisting system by 25%. The engineer’s evaluation shows that the pre- damaged building strength was compliant with the current Code.

 Is there Substantial Structural Damage?

Part 2 of the definition of Substantial Structural Damage for “All Other Buildings” needs to be used for a timber building. The report concluded the damaged walls constitutes more than 20% of the pre-damaged condition of the lateral force resisting system in the first story. Therefore, the damage to the building is Substantial Structural Damage.

 Is retrofit required?

As per LABC Section 3405.2.2 repairs shall be done to restore the building to the pre-damaged status.  Strengthening beyond the current Code is not required.

 What design criteria may be used for repairs?

Repairs are permitted to restore the building to its pre-damage state, using material properties and design strengths applicable at the time of the original construction. All new structural members, connections and detailing used for this repair shall comply with provisions of this Code for new buildings of similar structure, purpose and location.

Find out how Foundation Technology can assist you to meet the requirements and pass your evaluation with flying colors.

 To  learn  more  about  Foundation  Technology  and  the  services  we  offer Visit us on line at: or call: 855.650.2211

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Earth quake is a reality and it can happen anytime. Did you know?

Buildings with Substantial Structural Damage to Vertical Elements of the Lateral Force- Resisting System

 Section 3405.2 through 3405.2.3 describes the requirements for damage evaluation and the triggers for seismic retrofit of earthquake damaged buildings:

Section 3405.2 – Substantial Structural Damage to Vertical Elements of the Lateral Force- Resisting System

 A building that has sustained substantial structural damage to the vertical elements of its lateral force-resisting system shall be evaluated and repaired in accordance with the applicable provisions of Sections 3405.2.1 through 3405.2.3.

 Find out how Foundation Technology can assist you to meet the requirements and pass your evaluation with flying colors.

Download PDF


To  learn  more  about  Foundation  Technology  and  the  services  we  offer Visit us on line at: or call: 855.650.2211

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A Look at Common Foundation Repair Methods: Seismic Retrofitting

Seismic retrofitting is a foundation repair method that involves the modification of existing structures to make them more resistant to the effects of seismic activity, ground motion, or soil failure caused by earthquakes. In Los Angeles, a city that’s prone to higher occurrences of seismic activity, there is a city ordinance that mandates property owners to retrofit their homes, regardless of how old or newly-built these are. If they fail to comply, they can be fined stiff penalties while commercial property owners risk being shut down as well.

Some common seismic retrofitting techniques:

Foundation Bolting – This technique aims to strengthen the connection between a structural wood frame and a foundation made of concrete by bolting wood beams from the former into the latter. Doing so can decrease the risk of your home sliding off its foundation during an earthquake.

Helical and Push Piers – Strong steel piers are screwed or driven deep into the ground and then attached to the foundation. Ground movements can weaken or damage foundations, but with helical and push piers to provide additional structural support, your home or building will be stable enough to withstand the effects of the movement.

Cripple Wall Bracing – As the name suggests, this technique braces the cripple wall or short wall typically made of wood that extends from the foundation to the first floor. While the cripple wall provides support to the entire weight of the structure, it is also known to be the weakest and most vulnerable to earthquakes. Generally, the cripple wall is braced with metal to strengthen its connection to the foundation.

If you live in a high-risk area in California, like Los Angeles, contact us to get an inspection done by the leader in foundation repair, done by the most experienced team of experts in the industry. We provide a 100% free, no-obligation inspection service, and provide foundation repair systems for buildings that need to quake-proof their homes.


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Earthquakes are a fact of life in California. As a business owner, you have an extra responsibility to protect your employees and your business from the dangers that can occur during an earthquake. The best way to accomplish this is by taking precautions before an earthquake ever strikes.

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Part of enjoying the California life involves dealing with the unpredictability of earthquakes. Unfortunately, you never know when one might strike, which is why it’s important to follow the steps outlined below to help protect your home and your family from an earthquake in California.

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