By Carlos EscuderoSo, you received your Order to Comply, and now you’re looking to hire a Soft Story Vendor. Well, I’ve found it’s best to take the time to do a little research before hiring a retrofit contractor. Finding the right vendor makes all the difference in your retrofit experience; from the quality of the work, design methodology, to your emotional stress, and the timeliness of your project. By fulfilling this simple step, you will save a lot of time and money later when it counts. To help you with the daunting task of qualifying potential soft-story vendors, start by making a list of the qualified soft-story retrofit contractors in your area. It’s imperative to research and ask for recommendations from your friends and colleagues who’ve had a seismic retrofit done on their building. As you narrow your search for potential contractors to work with, ask these 5 important questions to ensure you’ve found the right vendor for your project. Q1. Is your company a Full-Service soft-story provider or an agency hiring subs? There are two different types of vendors to be aware of, Regular General Contractors who will sub out the work to other contractors, and Full Service (design/build) Contractors that are responsible for your project from start to finish. Traditionally, general contractors hire a variety of subcontractors to help complete different phases of the project creating scheduling difficulties and project delays. I’ve found it’s more efficient working with Full Service Contractors like CalRetrofit, that do the actual work and not simply act as an agency managing subs. Q2. What separates you from your competition? A true belief and mission in Design Minimization and value engineering is one of CalRetrofit’s innovative services. There are ways to significantly reduce the scope of work & reinforcement methods by re-engineering the original remediation plan provided by our clients, thus mandating substantial savings in construction costs and possible change orders. Approximately 50% of the engineering plans our clients submit for our review are revised, resubmitted to LADBS and substantially minimized. If your project has been engineered or is still in the pre-engineering phase, I urge you to utilize our expertise to provide the most optimized and cost efficient structural engineering design. This will save you thousands. Q3. Do you carry Commercial Retrofit Insurance? A specific commercial retrofit insurance policy is required to perform seismic structural construction. You will want to make sure your vendor doesn’t provide a policy that has no coverage for commercial reinforcement work. You’re covered with CalRetrofit. Q4. How many soft-story projects have your completed? Can i get list of client references? Longevity in this business often coincides with experience, and it’s very important to find out how long the company you’re considering has been doing seismic retrofitting. There are no formal credentials, or certifications, in this field. You will want to make sure that the company you hire, has both training and experience in these areas, as well as a thorough knowledge of the steps involved, and are up to date on all building codes, regulations, and each cities specific ordinances and deadlines. A track record of happy clients speaks volumes. Ask for a list of client references and contact them. Make the most of this opportunity, by asking questions that will give you an understanding of what you can expect working with this vendor. I also recommend visiting a few of the vendor’s constructions sites and completed jobs. Q5. Will the tenants have parking at night? Most retrofit vendors completely block off the tuck under construction areas, forcing tenants to have to park their vehicles elsewhere during months of construction. This is a massive headache to say the least. At CalRetrofit we’ve got our clients covered. We cover trenches with steel plates, enabling tenants to drive over covered trenches upon their arrival back home at 5pm. We go through leaps and bounds to protect and secure every job site environment while minimizing the negative effects on property managers and their tenants. By asking these 5 questions and doing your due diligence you will quick separate the men from the boys and be able to make a decision based on research not on heresy. At the end of the day, it’s in the vendors best interest to be honest and trustworthy because he wants your recommendation to other potential clients.Carlos Escudero, CalRetrofit Seismic Retrofit Consultant. After over 10 years of Property Management experience working with a large firm in Los Angeles, Carlos was excited to join the retrofit industry and worked with a competitor, however, after a year in, he realized there was a lack of integrity in their business and and was inspired to look elsewhere, until he joined the CalRetrofit team, first as a project manager, and then, after being with the company for a short time and truly understanding their vision and their mindful integrity, he decided to focus his talents on helping building owners and property mangers find their way to this awesome company.