If you own a commercial building in an area that has been impacted by a bad earthquake, or if your building is in an area where even minor earthquakes are common, then there is a good chance that your building's structure has been impacted. Even though your commercial building might still be standing and might still seem to be usable, it might have a "soft story." Basically, this means that the first level of the home has been structurally damaged by earthquakes and is not capable of handling the weight of any of the building floors above it. There are soft-story retrofit options that can be used to stabilize the first floor of your building and make it structurally sound again. You may need to have this done if any of these things are true.
It's Required by the Local Government
If your building has a soft story because of earthquakes, there is a very good chance that other commercial buildings in your community have the same problem. If this is true, then there is a good chance that your city or town has changed some of its building codes and requirements. They might have performed inspections and made a list of buildings in your community that don't meet these standards or that need soft-story retrofitting. If your building has made this list, then your structure might be shut down or torn down if you don't bring it up to proper standards within a certain period of time.
You've Noticed Signs of Weakness
If you have noticed interior or exterior signs that your commercial building's first story might be weak, such as if you see that the walls appear to be buckling or that the second floor doesn't feel sturdy, then you should have your building looked at by a professional. Then, you can find out if soft-story retrofitting does, in fact, need to be done, and you can find out more about the details of the retrofitting work that needs to be done.
You Want to Reduce Your Insurance Costs
If you operate a commercial building in an earthquake-prone area, then you might have to pay a lot of money for the insurance that is needed to cover your building. If you have soft-story retrofitting done, then you might have more affordable insurance costs. This is a good way to make sure that your building is protected from earthquakes and other natural disasters, all without busting your budget.
A company like The Foundation Works can help you determine if you need a soft-story retrofit.