Soft-Story Homes: Can You Strengthen Your Multi-Story Home?

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If you invested money into a multistory home that sits above a first-floor garage or an open-spaced porch, strengthen the home before you sell it to others. Your home could be a soft-story building. Soft-story buildings, or buildings with weak first floors, can be dangerous during earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. Learn more about soft-story buildings and how to strengthen your home below.

What Are Soft-Story Buildings?

Buildings must possess the physical and structural strength to withstand harsh environmental conditions. However, multi-level structures, or soft-story buildings, that feature weak or open lower floors can collapse or shift during hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. If soft-story buildings collapse, they can crush anyone or anything in their path.

Soft-story buildings generally contain wooden frames. Wooden frames can be susceptible to a number of things that weaken them, including termite damage and moisture. Even if you repair the wood in the home, the lower portion of the frame may still lack the integrity to support the rest of the building. 

Soft-story buildings may also succumb to lateral, or side-to-side, movements. Buildings can move or shift side-to-side during earthquakes and hurricanes. If your home's lower floor can't move freely from side to side during a natural disaster, it may collapse. Although the problems above may seem difficult to address, you can do so. You can retrofit your soft-story house.

How Do You Retrofit Your Building?

You want to have a contracting company retrofit your home as soon as possible. Retrofitting strengthens and reinforces soft-story buildings against lateral load problems, seismic activity, and other catalysts. But before contractors retrofit your home, they'll:

  • measure and record the lateral load capabilities of your home's first floor
  • examine your home's upper and lower floors for integrity issues
  • assess the soil beneath your first floor for moisture and weakness

Each of the components above can help a contractor determine the best ways to retrofit the home's first or lower floor. For example, if the walls or beams in the first floor suffer from lateral load issues, contractors can retrofit the floor with reinforced steel beams, shear walls, and/or steel anchors. The materials tend to withstand lateral forces better than traditional wood can during disasters. 

Contractors can also reinforce the foundation beneath the first floor with concrete or cinder block. If the soil contains an excessive amount of moisture, contractors can install a unique drainage system beneath the foundation to control it.

For more details on how to retrofit your multi-story home, call a contracting company today that provides soft-story retrofits

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