Soft-Story Hazard Mitigation
Mitigating the hazards of a soft-story or weak-story building is where preemptive measures can make a substantial difference in risk management for building owners. In the wake of a major disaster, it may be several days before vital services are restored and it could take much longer for repairs to damages stemming from major earthquakes to take place. This is an opportunity for building owners and building managers to stay well ahead of the game with a few preemptive measures in place.
Mitigating soft-story hazards, for many buildings, may not be as onerous as the news makes it sound. There are at least a few ways often used to mitigate soft-story hazards:
- Structural steel portal frame - used as a moment-resisting frame is often unabtrusive to store fronts and garage openings.
- Strong walls and pre-manufactured braced walls - often are very cost effective and can be used in narrow wall piers
- Structural steel cantilevered columns - often are the best solution where low entrance height is of concern
Contacting a Structural Engineer or Licensed Contractor can be a good place to start. Why; because soft-story mitigation has been around for many years and engineers and contractors have sucessfully remedied many soft-story conditions already. Engineers and Contractors are the people best able to:
- Estimate the probable cost of mitigating a soft-story hazard
- Provide a construction schedule that can be used for arranging occupancy needs during construction
- Provide all the documentation needed for permitting, bidding, and building all of the proposed improvements