The Mandatory Seismic Retrofit

Imagine you are buying a property and you discover that $350,000 worth of seismic work is required. That is exactly what happened recently with an agent in my office whose client was buying a 6 unit building. Buyers must be aware that when buying a property, they may be subject to the San Francisco Soft Story ordinance that went into effect last year. If you are buying a condo, you may be buying into a percentage of the cost for seismic work that needs to be done. If you are a seller and have received notice, you need to disclose this to a prospective buyer.

The new law passed last year called the “Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program – Wood-Frame Buildings” otherwise known as the “Soft Story Ordinance” is impacting buyers and sellers of some properties. Among other things, it requires a building to be seismically strengthened if it is of wood-frame construction, of three or more stories (or two stories over a basement), contains five or more dwelling units, and was built before January 1, 1978. {Ordinance No. 66-13, Chapter 34B, Section 3402B}.

The reason for the passage of this law is obvious. With a 67% chance of a large earthquake striking San Francisco in the next 25 years, the City wants to have its most vulnerable structures secured. The first step is the notice and screening form. Notices were sent out last September 15 to building owners. Property owners need to have a licensed architect or engineer complete the screening form so that it can be determined if the building is within the program and requires a retrofit. After the screening form is submitted and accepted by the Department of Building and Inspection, the owner must obtain a permit and complete work within the appropriate timeframe. See: Department of Building  and Inspection website. http://sfdbi.org/mandatory-soft-story-program

 

 

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