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Canterbury guidance for residential retaining walls released

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for Building and Construction
4 July 2014 Media Statement
Canterbury guidance for residential retaining walls released


Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith today released post-earthquake technical engineering guidance on the seismic design of residential retaining walls in Christchurch’s Port Hills.

“This new technical guidance is critical to supporting the rebuild. It will help ensure retaining walls are built to a high standard and will assist in resolving what is required to repair properties and houses,” Dr Smith says.

The guidance forms part of the residential guidance document from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes. It has been developed following a robust process involving expert consultation, international research and studies into how retaining walls performed in the Port Hills during the earthquakes.

“There is little formal guidance for the seismic design of retaining walls for residential properties at present. MBIE’s technical guidance provides high-level principles which will help deliver design solutions that comply with the Building Code. These solutions will give homeowners’ confidence that the rebuild and repair solutions are technically sound and meet New Zealand Building Code requirements,” Dr Smith says.

“This new guidance is particularly important for the Port Hills community where hundreds of these structures were damaged and millions of dollars of repairs are required. The benefits of this new guidance will be in retaining walls that are adequately designed to resist future earthquakes. It is part of our work to build a better and safer Christchurch.”

The guidance can be accessed at: http://dbh.govt.nz/guidance-on-repairs-after-earthquake-updates.


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