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Earthquake prone buildings seminar attracts 400

News Release

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Earthquake prone buildings seminar attracts 400

ROTORUA 28.08.12: A seminar coordinated and hosted by Rotorua District Council to discuss earthquake prone buildings and the Building Act attracted nearly 400 local people with interests in Rotorua buildings to the city's Convention Centre yesterday afternoon.

The forum had been initiated by property valuation company Telfer Young to help building owners understand government legislation and its implications in light of Christchurch’s devastating earthquakes.

The seminar included presentations by professionals from a number of sectors including local government, property valuation, banking and finance, property development, insurance and structural engineering.

Presenters in turn offered their different perspectives on the issue of earthquake prone buildings and gave their views on how government legislation could impact on building owners.

Seminar participants heard how the Building Act 2004 had introduced additional provisions to make buildings safer for occupants and users by improving the likelihood of existing buildings withstanding earthquakes. As part of this change, local authorities are required to develop and adopt policies covering their most vulnerable buildings in a moderate earthquake.

Rotorua District Council (RDC) Building Services manager Darrell Holder said the council was about to implement its Earthquake Prone Building Policy by undertaking a risk assessment project to identify potentially earthquake prone buildings in the district.

“Under the policy, the assessment is directed at buildings which were built prior to 1976 and it doesn’t apply to residential buildings unless they are two or more storeys high and contain three or more household units.

“All buildings which fit the definition will be assessed and allocated a risk category. That status will determine timeframes for obtaining an engineer’s report and for mitigating the risk posed by the building.

“Following notification from the council that a building is potentially earthquake prone the owner will be asked to either provide information that would prove otherwise or alternatively provide an independent report."

Mr Holder said where it became evident that a building was earthquake prone, the owner would need to remedy the risk within prescribed timelines set out in the council’s earthquake prone building policy.

“Clearly the tragic Canterbury earthquakes have sharpened the thinking around dealing with this complex issue but it's acknowledged that for many property owners throughout the country making their buildings safe is going to an expensive process.

“However it is clear that the real drivers for upgrading these buildings are already coming from the expectations of others with interests in these buildings, in particular building tenants, insurers and banks. The simple equation is that the safest buildings are going to be in the best position to attract tenants, insurance and finance, and therefore offer the best business proposition and viability.

“As a general rule our council will be recommending remediation work to take the structural safety standards of Rotorua buildings to higher levels than the bare minimum required under legislation. It’s important that we do all we can to ensure our city is, as much as is possible, future-proofed from the potential effects of a substantial earthquake,” said Mr Holder.

CAPTION: Rotorua District Council chief executive Peter Guerin addresses delegates to the council's earthquake prone buildings seminar at the Rotorua Convention Centre yesterday [27 August].


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