The Difference Between a Point-of-Sale Retrofit Inspection and a Seismic Retrofitting Inspection

When it comes to safeguarding your property in earthquake-prone regions, knowledge is your greatest ally. As a real estate agent, you’re well aware of the importance of ensuring that your clients’ investments are secure. Two key terms that often surface in this context are “seismic retrofitting” and “retrofit inspections.” In this article, we’ll delve into these concepts, demystifying their differences, and shedding light on their significance in real estate.

Point-of-Sale Retrofit Inspections

Point-of-sale retrofit inspections are a fundamental aspect of real estate transactions, especially in areas like Los Angeles where seismic activity is a constant concern. Point-of-sale retrofit inspections are mandated by the City of LA and County of LA, and certain other cities in Southern California, when both residential and non-residential properties change ownership (point-of-sale). These inspections are essential in ensuring that properties meet specific code requirements necessary for a safe living environment.

The purpose of point-of-sale retrofit inspections is primarily to ensure fire safety, and water conservation. They encompass checking for seismic gas shutoff valves (including that they have been installed correctly), the required number and proper location of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, water heater straps, window safety glazing, as well as low-flow toilets and shower heads. These inspections aim to verify that a property complies with essential safety and water conservation standards and applicable state and city codes.

Seismic Retrofitting

Now, let’s shift our attention to seismic retrofitting, a concept often misconstrued in relation to point-of-sale retrofit inspections. Seismic retrofitting goes beyond inspections; it’s a proactive construction process designed to enhance a building’s resistance to seismic forces. While retrofit inspections focus on specific components, seismic retrofitting addresses the entire structure.

Seismic retrofitting is all about making structures more resistant to damage or collapse during an earthquake. It involves reinforcing the building’s foundation, walls, and other structural elements to better withstand seismic activity. Such reinforcement is especially crucial for older buildings that may not meet modern seismic standards, including buildings having a soft-story. 

A soft-story building is a building having multiple floors, where one or more floors have windows, wide doors, large open spaces, and/or other openings in which a shear wall would normally be required for stability with regard to earthquake resiliency design and engineering. 

The City of Los Angeles passed Ordinance 183893, effective since November 22, 2015, which requires seismic retrofitting of wood-frame soft-story buildings and non-ductile concrete buildings constructed before 1978. The goal of this mandate is to improve the performance of these type structures during earthquakes, and make them less vulnerable to structural failure both during and after an earthquake.

Why Both Are Essential

Now that we’ve clarified the distinctions between retrofit inspections and seismic retrofitting, it’s crucial to emphasize their complementary nature. Real estate agents, in particular, should understand that both aspects play pivotal roles in ensuring a property’s safety and compliance.

  • Point-of-sale retrofit Inspections provide a snapshot of a property’s current state in terms of essential safety and water conservation elements. They are the baseline for ensuring that a property meets the required minimum standards for fire safety and water conservation, in order to close escrow.
  • Seismic Retrofitting, on the other hand, focuses on structural improvements to the property in order to protect against more catastrophic earthquake damage which would otherwise occur due to structural failures. Seismic retrofitting addresses vulnerabilities that may not be apparent in a standard point-of-sale retrofit inspection.

Retrofit Express: Your Partner in Property Safety

At Retrofit Express, we recognize the importance of both point-of-sale retrofit inspections and seismic retrofitting. While our focus is point-of-sale retrofit inspections and providing the needed installations and corrections to ensure properties are in compliance with the respective city point-of-sale retrofit codes, we are well-poised to refer clients to a well-qualified seismic retrofitter, in order to inspect for and address any needed structural improvements.

With over 20 years serving the real estate industry, and over 90% of our business coming from referrals, you can be confident that Retrofit Express will carry out your point-of-sale retrofit inspections and installations with the consistently high level of professionalism we’re recognized for, allowing you to better focus on your client’s needs.

In the ever-evolving world of real estate, staying informed about seismic retrofitting and retrofit inspections is key. When you partner with Retrofit Express, you gain access to a team committed to property safety and compliance.

Don’t leave the safety of your clients’ investments to chance. Contact Retrofit Express today to ensure that your properties meet all the necessary point-of-sale earthquake, fire safety, and water conservation codes. Let’s work together to ensure your client’s properties are safe and code-compliant, and help you grow your business through giving your clients the best possible service.