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Earthquake Prone Building Briefing Note

This is the content of the Briefing Note put out by LGNZ in regard to current Government policy concerning time lines for councils having to complete assessments, and building owners having to complete work required to bring buildings up to standard.


 5 November 2013

Government policy on earthquake prone buildings

Government announced their policy decisions on earthquake prone buildings in August. MBIE has signaled a Bill by the end of this year (now more likely in 2014) with enactment mid-2015. Under the proposed policy, territorial authorities will have five years to assess all non-residential buildings and building owners a further 15 years to undertake strengthening or demolition of earthquake prone buildings (a total of 20 years from enactment of the legislation).

LGNZ does not support the timeframes proposed for strengthening earthquake prone buildings and will continue to advocate for a risk based approach that takes into account broader social and economic impacts along with life safety.

There are also a number of areas of the proposed policy that will need to be clarified to support councils in the implementation of the policy:

1. clarity on the seismic capacity assessment/desk-top review (its relation to current initial evaluation process) and who pays;

2. criteria for prioritising buildings that are ”likely to have significant impact on public safety and are strategically important buildings”;

3. a process for resolving disputes where building owners have a seismic capacity assessment that conflicts with a territorial authority assessment (only an issue at the margins of the 34% threshold);

4. clarity on the process and criteria for exemptions of building from the requirement to strengthen; and

5. requirements for a national register and the processes for keeping it updated where there is new information i.e. remediation or demolition.

 NZSEE (NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering) review of seismic assessment of buildings

The NZSEE, in conjunction with the Structural Engineering Society (SESOC) and the NZ Geotechnical Society (NZGS), are reviewing the guidelines for the assessment and improvement of the structural performance of buildings in earthquakes. This is being funded by MBIE.

Priority was given to reviewing the initial seismic assessment process (Sections 2 & 3 of the guidelines) and this has now been completed. You can find the completed guidelines attached to this email.

The new Initial Seismic Assessment section of the guidelines will be covered in a series of seminars for engineers, building officials and other interested parties throughout November. Detailed training workshops for engineers will begin in 2014.

November seminars are as follows. Venue locations will be notified to registrants prior to the seminar.

Tuesday 5th November – Wellington

Thursday 7th November – Nelson

Tuesday 12 November – Takapuna, Auckland

Wednesday 13th November – Parnel, Auckland

   Thursday 14th November – Hamilton

Friday 15th November – Taupo

Tuesday 26th November – Christchurch

Wednesday 27th November – Dunedin

Registration for the seminars is available at the IPENZ website.

Territorial authorities currently have a number of responsibilities in implementing earthquake prone building policy including the management of their own property portfolios. LGNZ have also agreed in principle to develop training for elected members and Council senior managers to complement the technical engineering training. KnowHow workshops for elected member and senior managers will focus on the responsibilities of local government in policy implementation and the provisions of the Bill once it is introduced. These will also be held in 2014.

In addition to delivering workshops Business Solutions is exploring support for specialist services such as structural engineers.

Post disaster building management

MBIE has also invested in establishing a trained and warranted workforce who will assist with post disaster building management. This includes people who can manage the building evaluation process across engineers, architects and building officials.

Building Amendment Bill No 4

The primary purpose of this bill is to strengthen consumer protection for residential dwellings. Amendments were also proposed to the dam safety scheme and to allow territorial authorities to manage buildings that are at risk because they situate near dangerous buildings. The second reading of the Bill has been interrupted several times and we are aware that a SOP is being prepared on the dam safety scheme. It is unlikely we will see the Bill finalised this year.

Finally, the Law Commission review of joint and several liability report is due to be signed off by the Commissioners late this year and released publicly in early 2014 (possibly February).


This note was circulated last week by Leigh Robcke to the members of the Heritage Hauraki-Coromandel group that probably includes some readers of this post. I attach it for the information of those who are not members, but who have a direct interest in these matters - of which I know there are many. You may wish to attend one of the briefings that are listed.




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