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Owners urged to strengthen buildings over minimum

Earthquake engineers urge owners to strengthen buildings to greater than Government minimum

The New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering has urged building owners to strengthen earthquake prone buildings to double the Government’s minimum requirement.

Under a decision announced by the Government today, strengthening requirements remain the same. This means that owners of buildings that are found to be earthquake prone are required to strengthen their properties to at least 34 per cent of the current building standard.

However, NZSEE Executive Officer, Win Clark, said that it strongly recommended that building owners strengthen properties to at least 67 per cent of the standard. This will reduce the potential life risk.

“We understand that building owners are concerned about costs but it is worth the extra effort now to put significantly increased resilience into your building,” said Win. The greater resistance to earthquakes will improve an owner’s ability to obtain insurance and attract tenants.

“The public needs to be made widely aware that the Building Code is about life safety. While a building strengthened to 34 per cent of the standard might be legal that does not mean that it will not be significantly damaged in an earthquake.”

The NZSEE is also calling on building owners to have buildings assessed and strengthened as soon as possible, rather than putting the work off until later in the time frames imposed by local authorities.

“It is essential that landlords become proactive rather than reactive with regard to the significant risks to life posed by earthquake prone buildings. They need to be strengthening their buildings before an earthquake happens, rather than after.

“Ultimately the decisions of commercial landlords will be driven by demand. Tenants should be asking their landlords these questions and have an expectation that the buildings they live and work in have been strengthened in a timely fashion, to best practice standards. And best practice is 67 per cent of the current building standard or higher.”


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