The stated priority of the Government in developing the
earthquake strengthening policy for buildings is "public
safety and minimising future fatalities, we also need to ensure
that the response is proportionate to the risk, that the costs are
minimised and that we retain as much of our built heritage as
For the purposes of the revised policy, New Zealand has been
divided into three "seismic risk" zones:
Buildings in "high" seismic risk areas (for example
Christchurch and Wellington) must be assessed within five years and
strengthened or demolished within fifteen years following that
Buildings in "medium" seismic risk areas (for
example, Tauranga and Hamilton) must be assessed within ten years,
and strengthened or demolished within twenty-five years following
that assessment; and
Buildings in "low" seismic risk areas (for example,
Auckland and Dunedin) must be assessed within fifteen years, and
strengthened or demolished within thirty-five years following that
These changes are intended to stage the assessment and
strengthening process based on risk, instead of applying blanket
The Government also confirmed that the earthquake prone building
definition as being less than 34% of the "New Building
Standard" (NBS). A ten year extension for listed heritage
buildings, and exemptions from strengthening for low risk, low
occupancy buildings would remain in the policy.
The Government also stated that building owners will be
encouraged to upgrade their buildings ahead of the allowable
timeframe by the establishment by the Government of a "web
based public register" and "requiring notices on
buildings highlighting the level of risk". There will also be
a new requirement to strengthen earthquake prone buildings when
doing substantial alterations.
The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill is
currently being considered by the Local Government and Environment
Select Committee, with the report being due on 3 September 2015.
Parliament will also be consulting on the detailed regulations such
as the assessment methodology, the Earthquake-prone Buildings
Register, the building notice requirements and the definition of
The Property Council has submitted on the Bill, supporting the
recommendation to classify the country into low, medium and high
risk zones. The Property Council has also supported some of the
proposed changes to heritage buildings, but is not convinced that
some clauses in the Bill go far enough.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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