You have questions, we have answers.

What does it mean to be "retrofit compliant"?

This means that your building and foundation are up to the latest structural codes so that it may sustain reduced damage from earthquakes (seismic movement), other natural disasters, and — of course — also avoid costly penalty fees from the county.

Are you licensed? What type of licenses do you need?

We are licensed and bonded. We carry a general contracting license (#1026936), and we can also offer umbrella insurance for extra coverage to protect your greatest asset from any sub-contractors or vendors. In the event that you’re involved in extensive work, our existing liability insurance covers your home for the work that we perform, including any potential accidents that might occur during the course of your project.

What kind of permits do I need before starting retrofit work on my property?

Generally, we need Engineering / Deputy Inspection in the event that the work requires any type of drilling into new concrete, new slab foundation, sister foundation, or new raised foundation. We guide our customers through the entire process of the project, and we try our best to make everything as seamless as possible! Typically, we pass every inspection. All of our foremen have taken extensive classes and have been certified on how to read blueprints in a multitude of ways, since every engineer has their own method of creating plans.

How much time should I expect a retrofitting project to take?

Every project has its own time frame, which can anywhere between one day to three weeks depending on the type of work that will be performed. Throughout the duration of every project, we keep all of our customers updated on the progress of the work to make it as easy and convenient as possible to know exactly what’s going on at any point of the project. Every customer is assigned their own portal login information, where they will be able to see pictures, plan permits, and job cards once inspection has passed. Customers receive direct notifications every time something is uploaded, either to their mobile phone or e-mail address.

Does my house need bracing or bolting?

Every home is different, so we provide a free inspection for homeowners to determine if their home needs bracing or bolting. First, we inspect to see if your home is on a raised foundation or slab foundation. By doing so, we also look to see if your walls have cracks, if your doors don’t shut correctly, and if windows don’t open. We also check for foundation settling, concrete efflorescence, and foundation leveling. All of our home inspectors will provide you with pictures of what we find in your home inspection, and we will offer you the solution that’s right for you!

Will being retrofit-compliant help me with earthquake insurance?

A lot of our customers ask us to help them fill out their insurance form to reduce their Earthquake Homeowners Insurance once we are done with the retrofitting process. We fill out their earthquake insurance form so that they can get their discount, since we understand that earthquake insurance can be very costly! Thankfully, this is part of how retrofitting will save you money.

If my house is sitting on poles, is it secure?

Some homes are sitting on caissons, while some are just sitting on steel posts with a 4 to 6-inch diameter. A lot of the time, homes that only have poles sustaining their home have parking under the building, and they have no reinforcement in their foundation. Sometimes, they need steel moment frames or underpinning to hold the home or apartment complex from facing extensive damage by earthquakes.

What are caissons?

Caissons come in different types of designs, ranging from box caissons, excavated caissons, floating caissons, and pneumatic caissons. A caisson is made out of rebar in a diameter of typically 10–12 inches. Generally, we see a lot of excavated caissons around in our freeways. Meanwhile, on hillside homes that have good soil, we always need a geo engineer to inspect the type of soil to be certain that we will have a good solid foundation for porches, decks, and more to support homes.

What is shotcrete?

Shotcrete, also known as gunite, or sprayed concrete. Shotcrete has its own design and can be utilized in modern homes, offices, museums, and walls on our freeways. Shotcrete is designed with an engineer to determine what type of resistance is needed when rebar is being installed. It’s also used in backyard pools and more!

What is soft story retrofit?

Multi-story buildings that have weak and/or open-front wall lines are considered “soft-story” (i.e. buildings with tuck-under-parking), and these buildings are often damaged or destroyed during earthquakes. The goal of the mandatory retrofit program, under Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081, is to reduce structural deficiencies by the most economical and feasible method possible. Without proper strengthening, these vulnerable buildings may be subjected to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.

Buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria:

  • Consists of two or more stories of wood frame construction
  • Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978
  • Contains Ground Floor Parking or other similar open floor space

The program does not apply to residential buildings with three or fewer units.

Each property owner of these buildings has been sent an order to comply. These orders are based on the following priorities:

I. Buildings with 16 or more dwelling units3-story and aboveMay 2, 2016
2-storyJuly 22, 2016
II. Buildings with 3 or more storieswith less than 16 unitsOctober 17, 2016
III. Buildings not falling within the definition of Priority I or IIwith 9-15 unitsJuly 24, 2017
with 7-8 unitsAugust 21, 2017
with 4-6 unitsSeptember 25, 2017
Condos/CommercialNovember 6, 2017

The property owner must comply with the ordinance within the following time limits, from the receipt of the Order to Comply:

  • 2 years: Submit proof of previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish
  • 3.5 years: Obtain permit to start construction or demolition
  • 7 years: Complete construction

Do you do driveways?

Every driveway is designed differently, from cobblestone, pavers, and stamped concrete to broom finish, stain-resisting concrete (also known as decomposed granite), and asphalt. It is important to understand the process of how your driveway will be installed. We need to keep in mind the type of concrete that is going to be poured, how many inches of concrete, how spaced out the rebar will be, if wire mesh will be used, and more. 

Many customers don’t know what the process is for concrete installation, so our objective is to provide a detailed proposal of the type of material that is going to be used, from demolition to installation. Throughout the project, our customers will receive pictures from start to finish. Our inspectors are certified and prepared to go out to your property and help you accomplish your project.

Do you do retaining walls?

Retaining walls are particular due to the location of where you want them built. Many times, customers will install a retaining wall, but within one to five years the wall is leaning due to pressure from the soil that it’s holding. Other times, a weak foundation or no draining system will lead to the failure of the retaining wall over time. All these issues and more need to be taken into account when building an effective retaining wall to protect your property and investment.

Do you build new construction?

Yes, California Building Innovations prides itself on the proper scheduling and implementation when it comes to any new construction project. Our team is experienced in the specific trades required to complete your project from start to finish, and our goal is to help you complete your new home or new building with frequent status updates so that there are no surprises when you work with us. We work closely with our engineers or your engineer of choice and make sure that everything functions as smoothly and easily as possible. With the right tools and our efficient management system, we keep all of our customers happy with our team and the work we do.

Do you do drain systems?

Yes! To protect your biggest asset — your home — from having any type of settling in the future or from buckling up within your slab foundation, it is necessary to have a good drain system. A drain system pushes the water out to your street by having a 1.5–inch opening in your curb, also known as a “curb cut”. When you have drain vents throughout the perimeter of your home, you are protecting your foundation from causing stress cracks in your house and outside your home. Drain systems are also needed in retaining walls that are holding earth or retaining walls that are on a hillside.

Do you build steel frame construction?

Yes. Steel frame construction is a skeleton frame made out of beams set deep into the concrete foundation. Most commercial buildings are built with steel frames, from the foundation to the roof — all of the structural components become attached to the entire building. A lot of modern buildings today, even homes, are built with steel frames to create more living space and for increased durability by forming the interior part of a home or office space.

Do you do house leveling?

Is your raised foundation settling or is your slab foundation buckling up? We have the right solution for you, whether you’re a homeowner or investor! We use our own exclusive laser leveling system to better assess the current leveling of your building, so we can provide you the exact number of inches that your home is out of level.

Do you do new foundation work?

Yes, we are well-prepared to handle new foundation work. A new foundation has its own set of intricate requirements — from creating a shoring system to lifting the building, hydraulic jacks, excavation, forming, and pouring new concrete. When you hire a contractor to build a new foundation on an existing home, it is essential that you have an experienced and certified contractor to inspect your home, and not just as a salesperson. Oftentimes, homeowners get stuck with a vague contract indicating what their home will have. It is imperative that everything is explained to you clearly and in-depth. In a detailed contract, typically it’s the first three pages that are the most important, while the rest of the 17 pages are arbitration clauses. Please know the first three pages need to have the full detail of your scope of work, not just two to three sentences!

Do you do sister foundation work?

Yes, a sister foundation is somewhat similar to a new foundation. The difference is that the sister foundation gets attached to the existing foundation. We always have our engineer to provide us the plans so we can have the city approve them, and we also hire a deputy inspector to be part of this type of project.

Do you do basement reinforcement?

Some basements need straps, new sister wall foundations, or simply a new foundation wall. At times, our customers want us to remodel the entire foundation due to the existing concrete being as old as the property. In the old days, concrete was not built with rebar, making it more vulnerable to damage. Other times, we have customers that want us to create a shotcrete wall for reinforcement, and in this case, you will need an engineer and a deputy inspector as well. Our team is prepared to handle these projects with experience and expertise.

Do you have safety procedures that your team follows?

California Building Innovation believes in having our safety meetings with management, field supervisors, and employees on a daily basis. We thrive in always maintaining a safe environment for any job site, as well as for our employees and customers. We work as a team and execute our projects in a streamlined process.

What type of financing options do you offer?

We offer certain types of financing to customers that can’t afford certain projects, as well for customers who want the security that the job is going to get completed. The financing works in favor of homeowners and contractors. We first assess your project, and then — if you qualify — we will pay for everything upfront! We will get paid towards the end of your project once the final walkthrough is done.

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