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Next steps in earthquake-prone building policy

Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith today released for consultation regulations approved by Cabinet on Monday for the new earthquake-prone building legislation.

“New Zealand is a seismically active country and we need to progressively upgrade our older building stock to reduce the risk to New Zealanders’ safety,” Dr Smith said in announcing the consultation at the Consulting Engineers New Zealand annual awards in Auckland.

“New legislation requiring earthquake-prone buildings nationwide to be identified and remediated in a timely way was passed earlier this year. In the next stage in the process, the Government will consult on the regulations and methodology which sets the approach councils take when dealing with earthquake-prone buildings.”

The Government is consulting on proposals for regulations in the following areas:

  • Defining the meaning of “ultimate capacity” to clarify the level of seismic performance required to help councils determine whether a building is earthquake prone
  • The criteria for the level of other building work that will trigger the need for early seismic strengthening to be carried out
  • Specifying the characteristics earthquake-prone buildings must have to be considered for exemptions  from the requirement to undertake remedial work
  • Establishing an earthquake rating system that provides a measure of a building’s expected performance during an earthquake
  • The appearance of public notices describing an earthquake-prone building’s level of seismic risk.

The Government is also consulting on the proposed methodology to set out how councils will identify earthquake-prone buildings. The methodology will also outline the criteria for acceptable engineering assessments, allowing councils to make informed decisions about whether buildings are earthquake prone.

“The Government is seeking to ensure the process for upgrading buildings is fair, consistent and clearly understood by councils and building owners. This policy requires a careful balancing of the issues of safety, cost and heritage. I encourage submissions on the proposals to ensure we get the detail right,” Dr Smith says.

“The new Act and regulations are proposed to come into effect on 1 July 2017. This date will trigger the timeframes for the new legal requirement to assess and upgrade buildings that vary depending on the level of seismic risk of the area and the priority of the building.”

Copies of the consultation documents with the proposals for the regulations and the methodology are available at:

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