EQ Royal Commission: Owners given 15 years

by Rebecca Macfie / 07 December, 2012
The Government proposes giving the owners of earthquake-prone buildings 15 years to strengthen or demolish.
Christchurch - Basilica
photo Dean Purcell/NZH

The Government has shied away from the tough recommendations of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, which would have required local authorities to assess all unreinforced masonry buildings in their districts within two years, with owners forced to strengthen them within seven years.

Instead, a consultation document released simultaneously with Volume Four of the commission’s report proposes a softer time-line. Put together by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MOBIE), it recommends:

  • Local authorities would have five years to undertake seismic capacity assessment of buildings, with the resultant rating provided to the building owner.

  •  Building owners would then have 10 years to strengthen or demolish any buildings that fall below 33% of the strength required for new buildings.

If these recommendations are adopted, that would provide for a total of 15 years before earthquake prone buildings would be required to be brought up to a third of current code.

The MOBIE document says the risk of death from an earthquake is very low in New Zealand – about one in a million annually, compared with a one in 10,000 risk of dying in a car accident.

“The system must strike a balance between protecting lives, and the economic costs of strengthening or demolishing the most vulnerable buildings.”

The potential cost of an aggressive policy towards earthquake-prone buildings clearly weighed heavily on officials considering the best way forward in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes, in which 42 people died as a result of the failure of unreinforced masonry buildings. Around 15,000 – 25,000 earthquake-prone buildings exist in New Zealand – about 8-13% of all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings.

The Royal Commission’s recommendations would have “significant economic implications for those building owners,” says Maurice Williamson, minister for building and construction. A “workable balance” must be struck, while being “realistic about what is practical and affordable.”

MOBIE recommends that a quicker timeframe could be required for certain buildings, such as those on critical transport routes, while other buildings that have low use – such as rural churches – would be exempted from the rules or given longer to be strengthened.

Assessments of buildings would be entered onto a publicly accessible register maintained by MOBIE.

More to come.

Volume 4 of the Royal Commission report:

Consultation document from MOBIE: Building Seismic Performance:

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


The awards season reckons with a new world
86173 2018-01-23 00:00:00Z Television

The awards season reckons with a new world

by Diana Wichtel

A tone of anger and uplift prevailed – thanks to #MeToo and Time's Up – as the first cab of the awards season left the rank.

Read more
Jacinda Ardern broke baby news to Winston Peters over tea and sandwiches
86125 2018-01-22 08:15:08Z Politics

Jacinda Ardern broke baby news to Winston Peters o…

by RNZ

Deputy Prime Minister got a home visit by Ms Ardern to break the news of her pregnancy.

Read more
Road toll: 'Without a doubt' increase is linked to police cuts
86121 2018-01-22 07:22:48Z Social issues

Road toll: 'Without a doubt' increase is linked to…

by Emile Donovan and Tim Brown

Nearly 100 dedicated road police positions have been cut in the past five years, while the road toll rose 50 percent increase in the same period.

Read more
New Mongrel Mob app 'bloody stupid' and insensitive
86117 2018-01-22 06:57:35Z Social issues

New Mongrel Mob app 'bloody stupid' and insensitiv…

by Emma Hatton

Gang violence mediators say a Mongrel Mob-themed game is 'stupid', but its maker says he was just taking advantage of a gap in the market.

Read more
Jacinda Ardern: Government's focus turns to '300-day plan'
86114 2018-01-22 06:38:40Z Politics

Jacinda Ardern: Government's focus turns to '300-d…

by Mei Heron

Labour's caucus meets for the first time this year, with the PM saying there are still policies to be finalised for the govt's first 100 days.

Read more
New Zealanders have long loved a good ghost story
86094 2018-01-22 00:00:00Z History

New Zealanders have long loved a good ghost story

by Redmer Yska

We New Zealanders are known for being down to earth and no-nonsense, but there's a surprising number of Kiwi stories with a supernatural element.

Read more
How to avoid burnout at work
86051 2018-01-22 00:00:00Z Psychology

How to avoid burnout at work

by Marc Wilson

Taking positive steps at work will help keep weariness at bay.

Read more
A puppy-buyer's guide to getting a new dog
86100 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

A puppy-buyer's guide to getting a new dog

by Sally Blundell

Just saying “oh, how adorable” is not all you need to do before taking on a new dog.

Read more