How much will it cost to retrofit this Soft Story? It is the most frequently asked question that I get during a site review. Building costs were difficult to calculate when this regulation became law, but now that more than 1,000 structures have been retrofitted in the City of Los Angeles, it is easier to determine construction costs. This little article will help you understand how much you can pay for your retrofit Soft Story venture. We will segment the estimated cost of construction into different brackets that match the size of the property, from smallest to largest, and we will also include a picture to illustrate the size of the building.

These are averages, you must remember, and each building is different. We developed these brackets to help you understand Soft Story retrofit specific pricing points in Los Angeles City. Depending on the building method, engineering methods, location, and size of your property, your actual price may differ. If you would like to learn more about the process of retrofitting the Soft Story in Los Angeles City, please see this article.


Here is the average cost to do a Soft Story retrofit:



Small Apartment Building

Approximate costs: $20,000-$44,000

Building Profile:

  • Size 4-8 Units Single story above parking.
  • Lot level with easy access to the area affected.
  • No need to relocate some major infrastructure or plumbing.
  • No frames needed for the moment, only shear walls and small beams.

*** Some stucco repair due to the installation of diaphragm plywood.

Medium-Size Building

Approximate Cost: $45,000-$80,000:

  • Size 10-15 units.
  • Two floors above the parking space.
  • Lot level with easy to medium access to the area affected.
    Single Moment of beams of full length.
    On the back side walls or other part of the contractor, shear walls or low grade beams.

Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit Construction Cost

Small Apartment Complex

Approximate cost: $82,000-$120,000

Building Profile

  • Volume 20-30 units.
  • Two floors above the parking space.
  • Level lot of exposure to the affected area easily to medium.
  • Single Moment of beams of full length.
  • On the back side walls or other part of the contractor, shear walls or low grade beams.

Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit Construction Cost


Large Apartment Complex

Approximate cost: $250,000-$350 +

Profile of construction:

  • size: 50 units.
  • Under parking, three stories above tuck.
  • Rate ton of exposure to the affected area quickly to medium.
  • Multiple Moment frames with beams of full length.
  • Several shear walls or small beams on the walls or other portion of the structure on the back side.
  • Plumbing and relocation of major infrastructure.
  • Needed to repair stucco on new shear walls.
  • Framing labor between floors with new hold downs and hardware.

Soft Story Retrofit Questions Frequently Asked: What affects the value of retrofitting a Soft Story?

Job, labour, labour! Retrofitting Soft Story is extremely hard-working. Approximately 70-75% of your construction costs are allocated to the workforce. Steel is also expensive, but compared to the man-hours you’re going to have to complete a retrofit project, it pales.

How can I reduce the cost?

Your engineer is your ally, with labor-reducing strategies in mind, they will need to design a solution. They can implement more affordable construction methods than moment frames. Consider opening connection points and testing what’s in place to be confident you can model. Reduce surprises to a minimum. If possible, avoid welding frames of the moment.

How can I get a complete picture of building costs?

If you don’t have sketches for construction, you’ll never know what the real price is! I can’t tell you how many times “verbal figures,” “ball park estimates” and other none-sense correlated with their construction costs have come to me. I fully understand why building owners want to know how much it’s going to cost, but don’t cut corners! Make the plans for engineering and get a precise quote based on the plans!

Important factors to take into account…

As you begin to interview contractors and engineers, make sure you focus on the individual and not solely on price. Building is generally viewed as a commodity product, which can lead to major disappointment. This field is packed with skilled construction professionals, but there are also many who are deficient in expertise and competence. Be sure to ask about the procedures the organization has in place to successfully execute these types of projects. Check out this article for more information about how to locate a retrofit contractor.