New system for managing earthquake-prone buildings comes into effect

Posted: 3 July 2017

Building Controls Update 218
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On 1 July 2017 a nationally consistent system for managing earthquake-prone buildings came into effect. It changes the way earthquake-prone buildings are identified, assessed and managed.

The primary objective of the new system is to protect people from harm. It categorises New Zealand into three seismic risk areas and uses these areas to set time frames for identifying, strengthening or removing earthquake-prone buildings.

It introduces a new category of ‘priority’ buildings in high and medium seismic risk areas that are considered higher risk because of their construction, type, use or location. Priority buildings must be identified and strengthened or removed in half the time available for other buildings in the same seismic risk area.

The system applies to non-residential buildings and larger residential buildings that are two storeys or more, have three or more household units or are used as a hostel, boarding house or other form of specialised accommodation.

Under the new system, territorial authorities (councils) are responsible for identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings and notifying building owners, determining if a building is earthquake prone and if so assigning a rating (based on an engineering assessment) and issuing EPB notices to building owners.

Territorial authorities will also have to publish information on buildings they have determined to be earthquake-prone in a national online register hosted by MBIE. The register is a public document.

MBIE will be working with territorial authorities and building professionals over the coming months to help them with the transition to the new system and providing information for building owners.

Managing earthquake-prone buildings has an overview of the new system.

Earthquake-prone building resources has links to the relevant Acts, regulations, engineering assessment guidelines and the EPB methodology. The methodology and The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings: Technical Guidelines for Engineering Assessments are key tools to help territorial authorities and engineers identify, assess and make decisions on potentially earthquake-prone buildings.

The Register of earthquake-prone buildings (EPB Register) has a public portal as well as a logon for territorial authorities entering data.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: