Soft Story Retrofit

In response to Los Angeles city ordnance 183893 (Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program), owners of "tucked-in" carports in Los Angeles are required to retrofit their buildings to increase structural integrity in the event of an earthquake or seismic event. "Tucked in" carports are parking areas located under occupied living units. Example shown here.

Where do you start?
What is NOT highlighted by the information being shared about this new mandate is the requirement to ALSO perform inspections and sampling of suspect lead- and asbestos-containing materials BEFORE any demolition begins.

This is the first step in complying with 183893 and will allow your structural engineer to move forward with subsequent, required, investigations and corrective actions. Not intended as a full building survey (which Ellis can also perform), this first step is intended to identify suspect asbestos or lead materials likely to be impacted by investigative, penetration efforts.

Scope of Service

Asbestos. Our initial visual inspection will include all accessible areas not obstructed by permanent walls or hard ceilings. Each sampled material will be assessed for condition and quantity. Our report will categorize and quantify identified asbestos materials and their condition, and will make recommendations regarding appropriate handling measures. Some surface damage (<1 square inch) will be unavoidable during the testing process. (We'll provide temporary patches with all-weather white caulking, but these patches are not considered permanent and are not guaranteed.)

Lead. Ellis will analyze representative painted surfaces for the presence of lead-based paint using a pre-calibrated, handheld XRF gun. We will also collect representative samples of (a) damaged paint, (b) paint for which XRF results are returned as "inconclusive," and/or (c) ceramic tiles.

We will depend on you or your authorized representative to provide us with timely, safe and complete access to all areas of each area on the date of sampling.

Report. Following results of testing, our report will provide a listing of asbestos and lead materials identified and their condition. We will include a drawing to show the location of each sample. The report will address surface materials that may be disturbed by planned demolition efforts. The report will comply with all requirements of California Title 8 Section 1529, 40CFR Part 763 (AHERA) and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1403.


Costs are invoiced against Ellis' current fee schedule. Depending on access, building age, the number of buildings that can be inspected in a day, and other factors, total per-building costs, including field time, analysis and report - usually range from $800 to $1400. The client will be invoiced on a time and materials basis. Whether more or less than the estimated total, you will be invoiced only for actual costs incurred.


Does your soft story building require retrofitting?
The LADBS has an online tool that allows you to enter your building's address to determine if it requires retrofitting.  Please note, this is a preliminary listing. All owners of flagged properties will receive an order to comply according to the following table-

Structure types:


Orders are sent out starting:

1  Structures with 16+ units

3+ stories


2 stories


2  Structures with 3+ stories

< 16 units


3  Structures not included in Priority I or II

9-15 units


7-8 units


4-6 units





How long you have to comply to a Soft Story Retrofit:


  • 2 years: Submit proof of previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish
  • 3.5 years: Obtain permit to start construction or demolition
  • 7 years: Complete construction

While these timeframes may at first glance feel comfortable and long, consider acting sooner than later.  Estimates are that more than 13,000 buildings have been identified by the LADBS as requiring retrofit.  As you know, construction prices often rise with demand.

Contact us for a complete discussion of your needs.  We are where, by law, you must start.
We can also recommend trusted structural engineers and contractors that are experienced with this type of project.  Call us at 310-544-1837, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or complete the form here.