Seismic Retrofit- Structural Investigations

Specialized Testing is committed to assisting structural engineers,  building owners, and contractors by providing structural investigation services to support structural evaluation and seismic retrofit design, in particular for those seeking compliance with the Los Angeles County’s 2023 Seismic Retrofit Law

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We conduct on-site structural investigations to gather crucial information for evaluating the current condition of structural components such walls, columns, beams, ceilings, and floors. Our expert team employs Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to determine the presence, location, and depth of steel reinforcement. When necessary, we delicately remove the concrete cover to expose the reinforcement bars and accurately measure their diameter. Additionally, we have the capability to extract concrete and rebar, and masonry samples and test the materials in our CCRL/LADBS/IAS certified material testing laboratory.

Our seismic retrofit services

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Seismic Retrofit Projects
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WHAT IS A Seismic Retrofit?

A seismic retrofit is a process of improving the ability of a building or structure to withstand seismic activity such as earthquakes, tremors, and vibrations. This process involves assessing and strengthening the existing structural components of a building to meet the seismic standards set by local code and industry guidelines. Seismic retrofits vary in complexity and cost depending on the age and type of structure, and the specific seismic threats in the area. The goal of a seismic retrofit is to increase structural safety and reduce the risk of damage or collapse during an earthquake. Retrofit measures may include installing reinforcing foundations, strengthening walls and roofs, adding bracing or shear walls, upgrading electrical and mechanical systems, and other modifications to improve the seismic performance of the building.

Seismic retrofits are important because they strengthen buildings and other structures against earthquake damage. In areas that are prone to earthquakes, like California, the risk of collapse or significant structural damage is high, threatening the safety of occupants and damaging property. Seismic retrofits involve modifications to the existing structure, such as adding reinforcing steel elements, increasing foundation anchors or slab connections, and installing shear walls or other bracing elements to provide greater resistance to seismic forces. These modifications can prevent or significantly reduce damage from an earthquake, saving lives, avoiding costly repairs, and reducing the impact on communities. Seismic retrofits are crucial not only for older buildings but also for new ones, as these measures ensure that structures meet current safety standards and can withstand stronger seismic forces.

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is seismic retrofitting required?

Yes, seismic retrofitting is required for many older buildings in Los Angeles, especially those built before 1977. This is due to the city’s location in a region prone to earthquakes, and the resulting high risk of significant damage to buildings and endangerment of residents during a seismic event. In 2015, the city passed ordinances requiring the retrofitting of soft-story buildings, which are multi-unit structures with a weak ground floor that is typically used for parking. Many other types of buildings may also be subject to retrofitting requirements based on their age, construction materials, and other factors. The goal of retrofitting is to strengthen buildings to better withstand earthquakes, and thus minimize the risk of collapse or significant damage during seismic events.
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What are the los angeles seismic retrofit laws?

2023 - Non-Ductile & soft story construction

The Los Angeles county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to enact new rules that would require “non-ductile” concrete buildings owned by the county, as well as any located in unincorporated areas, to be retrofitted. Once the new rules go into effect, building owners would have 10 years to complete the retrofits. The supervisors also ordered officials to create an inventory in unincorporated areas of all “soft-story” residential buildings — structures vulnerable to come crashing down in the next big earthquake.

The coming laws are focused on construction methods and materials that have shown to succumb to earthquakes with catastrophic results in loss of life and property damage.  Throughout earthquake-prone zones from California to New Zealand, and Turkey to Syria, poorly conceived construction methods that were established in the wake of the post-World War II construction boom, led to the creation of thousands of structures that simply can’t withstand earthquakes. Inadequate reinforcement steel combined with brittle, non-ducticle concrete, has proven to be a recipe for disaster. The 1971 Sylmar earthquake showed that inadequate steel reinforcement frames and non-ductile concrete exploded under the stress of shaking, preceding catastrophic structural failures and building collapse.

After the construction method was banned by the 1980s local governments did little to ensure the public’s safety and failed to call for retrofitting of poorly constructed buildings and structures. In Both the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, and the Northridge quake in 1994, non-ductile buildings and freeway structures collapsed resulting in over 100 fatalities.  In sponsoring this new legislation, the LA County Board of Supervisors hopes to avoid large-scale loss of life as seen recently in the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria where the death toll has risen to more than 50,000. “This will allow us to proactively plan and save lives for when — not if — major seismic activity occurs.” said Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis.

How will the new seismic retrofit ordinance be applied?

The ordinance applies to buildings constructed before 1977 that have a certain level of structural deficiency. The law requires building owners to hire a licensed engineer to conduct an evaluation of the building’s conditions and to submit a report to the city. If the report shows that the building has a deficiency, the owner must then develop and submit a retrofit plan to the city. The retrofit must then be completed within a specific timeframe, ranging from two to seven years, depending on the building’s size and use. Failure to comply with the law may result in fines and consequences for building safety. Therefore, building owners should take these requirements into account to ensure their property is in compliance with the law.

2015 - Soft story construction

Effective November 22, 2015, the City of Los Angeles established mandatory standards for earthquake hazard reduction in existing wood-frame buildings with soft, weak, or open-front walls and existing non-ductile concrete building. The Department of Building and Safety identified approximately 12,000 buildings that fall under this statute (Ordinance No. 183893) and mailed courtesy notices to these property owners in March 2016. In brief, the Ordinance applies to all existing buildings of wood-frame construction subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Buildings containing 3 dwelling units or less are exempt from this mandate, if the building is used solely for residential purposes.

Our Certifications and accreditations

Why choose Specialized Testing for your Seismic Retrofit?
We have the experience, Qualification and Expertise to handle your Next Project
ISO ISE 17025 Certified Screw Spike Fastener Nail Laboratory
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About specialized testing

Your source for Material Testing, Concrete testing, Concrete Scanning, Field Testing, & Product Qualification testing.

For over 30 years Specialized Testing has been providing nation-wide product certification testing and throughout California and the Southwest, Concrete Testing and Scanning Services. Our primary mission is to ensure the safety of and integrity of job sites and products throughout the US. For over 3 decades we have served thousands of customers and offered reliable services and the highest quality results.

Specialized Testing is a full-service lab specializing in the testing of rebar, concrete and masonry materials. We provide services to engineers, inspectors, and construction professionals. Located in the City of Santa Fe Springs we are an approved testing facility by the ACI (American Concrete Institute) and the City of Los Angeles. Serving Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino, and Riverside County we are committed to providing our services in a timely and professional manner. We pick up all sample specimens within 48-hours of notification and aim to provide lab results within three days of initial test.

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