Strengthening New Zealand
The choice won’t be yours but the solution could be
Auckland – 20 February 2013.
Seismic assessment and strengthening throughout
New Zealand is fast gaining finite timeframes with equally tight measures and penalties around compliance and intention to act.
Assessments are already underway by Auckland Council to evaluate ‘at risk’ buildings, principally those constructed pre 1976, under its ‘Earthquake Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy’. Property owners will, in a few short months find themselves being thrust into the ‘seismic spotlight’ perhaps a little earlier than they may have previously thought.
Many reports already being compiled and presented to building owners for comment within three months, and Government legislative processes already underway, it is envisaged that there will be an increased need for seismic consultation by property owners of the estimated 40,000 potentially affected buildings throughout New Zealand.
Meeting this industry
need is the newly formed collaborative ‘Seismic Solutions
The group aims to guide property owners through the maze of local and central Government regulatory requirements and response requirements, some of which may be sought in as little as three months time.
Whilst process timeframes range from three months to fifteen years, the process and practice of compliance or taking a proactive role in the future of bricks and mortar investments can be daunting and for many, a minefield.
Auckland based Seismic Solutions Group (SSG) has national reach and the collaboration of industry experts, CoveKinloch, Chester Consultants, Quantum Quantity Surveyors and Naylor Love Construction delivering a single source solution to property owners.
SSG spokesperson and key contact, Alan Turner (CoveKinloch) issues the strongest recommendation for property owners to take a proactive role in understanding the seismic performance and potential risk of their building now.
Turner explains that failure to do so will potentially diminish owners ability to participate early on in the process and in the absence of comment to Council (3 months from time of report) the information will simply be placed on the property file.
“To this end, I strongly recommend active participation as being the best way forward which is in sync with Auckland Council’s stance of encouraging owners to comply with its Earthquake Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy 2011-2016 rather than have Council exercise its powers to issue statutory notices.”
SSG adds that a proactive approach to this process can in many cases also present an opportunity to building owners to add value by integrating refurbishment or upgrade programmes as part of the project. SSG draw building owners to the verification of cost process and that proactively engaging affords a high level of comfort in respect to market pricing, evaluation and verification of presented costs, which can be reconciled with budget estimates.
Despite the current 20 year statutory timeframe, remedial plans are being sought by Council as early as possible and again, in the absence of a plan including proposed timetable for remedy, a formal Section 124 notice that the building is earthquake prone will likely be placed on the property file.
Seismic Solutions Group understands there is ‘no one size fits or fixes all’ approach, hence its collaboration to at least offer a one-call solution from assessment and consultation to remedial work and ultimately compliance Under Section 124. Under this section, Council can put up a notice warning persons not to approach the building or even hoard it up. Failure to comply is also an offence and can carry fines of up to $200,000 under the current legislation.
Turner also encourages property owners to understand the geographical positioning of their building in so much as to buildings on transport routes or those identified as being on routes deemed critical in an emergency – arterial and city feeder routes are highly likely to have a much shorter timeline to remediate. Council has prioritised buildings on these routes for assessment and response.
Turner and partners at SSG are committed to working with property owners on what is potentially a project spanning two decades, but Turner says the importance and benefits to staring early simply cannot be overstated and extends well beyond compliance into the realm of risk mitigation with financiers, insurers and tenants.