Mercury Engineering Group
Specializing in residential structural engineering in the Oakland and San Francisco area.

Soft Story Retrofit Program

mercury engineering group

An industry leader in soft story retrofit design & build

Mercury Engineering Group has been a leader in the engineering and design of seismically stable properties even before the passing of the 2013 Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program.  Understanding the risks that come with building in the Bay Area, Mercury Engineering Group has made it a part of their mission to ensure that their designs include current standards & practices within the industry.  Their knowledgeable team stays up to date with the changing city laws and ordinances to make sure that each project is developed with the most recent regulations in mind.  Contact the Mercury Engineering Group office today to schedule a Soft Story Retrofit consultation and begin the process of securing your property and, the safety of those that live and work there.     


San Francisco's Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program


The Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program (MSSRP), run by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection was created in 2013 in an effort to prepare and protect the city of San Francisco from damage caused by future seismic events.  Many buildings throughout San Francisco are at risk for severe structural damage in the event of an earthquake but years of background research and analysis have determined that "soft story" buildings are among the most vulnerable.  

Buildings that fall into the "Soft Story" category are those that have large open spaces such as garage parking or restaurants and retail businesses with large windows throughout the first floor.  These Soft-Story buildings are at risk of collapse in during an earthquake due to inadequate bracing throughout the lower floor and foundation.  

Notices to affected property owners began issuing in 2013, requiring action by the following year. If you have received notice that your building is included in the MSSRP and have failed to comply, you may receive a Notice of Violation (NOV) and your building(s) may be placarded with a warning sign, notifying tenants and the public of the risk posed by the building.  

Costs and Benefits of a Seismic Retrofit


The cost of a seismic retrofit can vary widely and is based on many factors such as, the existing condition of the building and it's size, and the scope of the project. Additional expenses include the cost of hiring an engineering firm to design the retrofit plans, paying for permits and any expediting fees, and hiring a contractor to complete the construction. 

The benefits of seismic retrofitting and upgrades always outweigh the cost of implementation. For those subject to the mandatory program, the most immediate benefit is the elimination of notices of violation, and subsequent fines for non-compliance.  In addition, any seismic retrofit will greatly increase the safety and structural soundness of the building, in turn, increasing its value.  Furthermore, other necessary or desired work can be added onto the permit for building improvements, and work on these can be done simultaneously with the retrofit, cutting the costs incurred if the work was completed separately. 

In addition to the upgraded safety and security of your building its occupants, new legislation was passed to allow for additional dwelling units (ADUs) to be added to most buildings that have undergone mandatory or voluntary soft story retrofits again adding value to the building itself, while also creating additional income for the property owner and increasing the city’s housing supply.