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MBIE guidance for multi-unit residential buildings released

Additional MBIE guidance for multi-unit residential buildings released

The release of technical guidance for multi-unit dwellings means people living in flats or units can have confidence that the rebuild and repair solutions are technically sound and meet New Zealand Building Code requirements.

“The guidance provides a consistent approach to assessing, repairing, or rebuilding multi-unit dwellings in Canterbury, but more importantly it gives robust and well-balanced engineering solutions that will reduce the risk of injury to people and damage to homes in future earthquakes,” says Mike Stannard, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The multi-unit building guidance forms a new section in MBIE’s existing main residential guidance document Repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Multi-unit buildings need to be considered differently to stand-alone houses because shared properties have added layers of complexity that require unique design solutions,” Mr. Stannard says. The multi-unit guidance is for engineers and designers to complete repairs and rebuilds, but it will also help insurers, project management offices (PMOs), and loss adjustors to resolve multi-unit shared property claims.

The technical guidance applies to single and double-storied residential multi-unit buildings constructed together in a row that are on flat land in Canterbury. These properties are mainly in Christchurch City and Waimakariri District. Most of the shared properties in Canterbury are constructed like this. The guidance is most applicable to technical category 3 (TC3) properties because these properties sustained the most damage.

“Multi-unit buildings have shared building components, like walls and roofs, so the units need to be considered as a whole as well as individually,” Mr. Stannard says. “They also have unique legal arrangements, like cross-leases and unit titles, which mean they can’t be approached in the same way as standalone houses.”

More than 200 designers, engineers, architects, insurers, and insurance assessors have been trained on how to apply the guidance, including specific training for council consenting staff. There will also be ‘clinics’ for builders on how to construct acoustic firewalls. “It’s important that all builders doing this type of work in Canterbury attend these clinics,” Mr Stannard says.

As with the main residential guidance, the multi-unit building solutions were developed over the past year by one of MBIE’s technical engineering advisory groups, with involvement and feedback from a wide range of practitioners.
An information sheet, jointly prepared by MBIE, CERA, Christchurch City Council, EQC, and the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ), is available for homeowners to help them better understand the repair/rebuild process of their unit or flat.

The guidance can be found here: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/guidance-on-repairs-after-earthquake
The information sheet can be found here: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/canterbury-earthquake-info-for-homeowners


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