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Some Certainty Gained from Earthquake Prone Building Policy

12 August 2013

Building Owners Gain Some Certainty from Earthquake Prone Building Policy Announcement

Ruapehu District Council (RDC) says it is good to finally have certainty about what the rules are for earthquake prone buildings with the release of government’s long awaited policy.

RDC Chief Executive, Peter Till, said that although the potential impact on Ruapehu’s building stock will be significant building owners can now at least start to understand what their position is and start making some hard decisions.

“Council has previously committed to holding another series of public meetings once the government policy was announced.”

“These will happen as soon as possible, however, the first step is for council to get some specialist advice on the potential ramifications on Ruapehu,” he said.

“As all territorial authorities around NZ now need to do the same thing it may be a little while before we can access the specialist skill sets we need as they will be in big demand.”

“When we do hold our public meetings it will be important that these specialists are in attendance.”

Mr Till said that the policy allows for some exemptions for buildings where the impact of failure is low such as farm buildings and some rural halls which is good news for Ruapehu.”

“The one key area that we are still awaiting a government decision on is what, if any, financial assistance they will provide to building owners to help them bring the buildings up to standard,” he said.

“Council believes that the level and type of any financial assistance available to building owners to bring buildings up to specification will be a significant determining factor in what rural area building owner’s decide to do.”

“The level of financial support available will be relatively a lot more important for rural townships such as in Ruapehu due to the lower economic and capital gains potential of the buildings.”

Mr Till noted that once the new legislation comes into effect later this year RDC will have five years to complete a seismic assessment of all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings in the district.

“This information will be entered onto a publicly accessible national register of earthquake-prone buildings.”

“After the Christchurch earthquake council did conduct some preliminary research on Ruapehu’s building stock to try and get a feel for the size of the earthquake prone building issue in the district.”

“We surveyed 33 buildings and found approximately half were over standard (34% of the new building standard) and half were under.”

“Interestingly the buildings over standard tended to be well over while the buildings below standards tended to be well under.”

Mr Till said that building owners will receive the results of the seismic assessments and then have 15 years to have earthquake-prone buildings strengthened or demolished.

“There are some buildings that may be eligible for exemptions and/or extensions to this timeframe where the effects of them failing are likely to be minimal, or they are buildings listed on the Register of Historic Places under the Historic Places Act 1993, or the proposed National Historic Landmarks List.”

“On the other hand certain buildings will be prioritised for assessment and strengthening, such as buildings likely to have a significant impact on public safety (including buildings with high risk elements such as potential falling hazards) and strategically important buildings.”

ENDS

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