If you’re a home owner in the Los Angeles area, chances are your house has been built before 1980. These older houses, which don’t follow current building codes, are vulnerable to earthquake damage because they’re not bolted to their foundations. Seismic retrofitting these structures makes them more resistant to an earthquake’s sideways shake and can save tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs after a disaster.
The city of Los Angeles has recently sent notices to owners of soft first-story multifamily structures built before 1980, giving them one year to submit a seismic retrofit plan and six years to complete the work. The new ordinances, called “Mandatory Retrofit Programs” under Ordinance 183893, were designed to help prevent the type of damage and losses experienced in the Northridge earthquake, which destroyed the majority of wood-frame apartment buildings.
This law, known as “soft story” retrofitting, is a great way to protect your family, property, and financial future from the threat of an earthquake. Earthquake experts have said that homes retrofitted before a major earthquake can save up to $150,000 in repair costs.
Optimum Seismic, which has been in business since 1984, is one of up to two dozen boutique firms in Southern California that specialize in seismic retrofitting and renovations for single-family homes and small commercial buildings. Founded by Ali Vahdani, a UCLA civil engineering graduate, the company has built a solid reputation among homeowners who want to avoid costly repairs following a large earthquake.
It started as a small, part-time venture with just a few employees and a modest office space in Vernon. It quickly grew to become a full-service firm, from engineering and making steel support structures for its retrofits to overseeing construction.
The company’s boom times didn’t last too long, however, when the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic shut down many offices in the city and threw many people out of work. That stymied new clients and existing ones who had already been planning to retrofit their buildings, which is why the firm’s growth has slowed dramatically this past year.
But as the company’s dwindling client base recovers, they’re still in a good position to take advantage of more stringent local ordinances. In October, the city passed legislation retrofitterslosangeles.net requiring owners of certain wood-frame apartments and condominiums to upgrade their buildings within a finite amount of time.
These ordinances are expected to impact 13,500 apartment buildings in the city of Los Angeles. That’s about one-fifth of the city’s entire multifamily housing stock.
Some of those properties are primarily occupied by young professionals or families with kids who are just starting out in the workforce. Others are mainly owned by retirees who have built up their equity over the years and plan to cash out their investments in the near future.
While some property owners are eager to start the process of evaluating their buildings and submitting retrofit plans as soon as possible, most want to make a prudent decision to prepare for the next major earthquake. For this reason, they are seeking a contractor who can provide professional guidance and ensure a smooth retrofit process for their property.