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Securing unreinforced masonry building parapets and facades

Last updated: 21 September 2017

On 28 February 2017 the government introduced a new requirement to secure unreinforced masonry (URM) parapets and facades on buildings in certain areas of Wellington City, Hutt City, Marlborough District and Hurunui District Councils.

Following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes in November 2016, GNS Science has advised there is an increased risk of further earthquakes occurring in the next 12 months in areas that include Wellington, Lower Hutt City, Marlborough and Hurunui.

Owners of URM buildings in those areas will be notified by their council and are required to secure the street-facing parapets and facades on their buildings within 12 months of the date of the notice. The parapets and facades must be secured within this time frame to reduce the risk of falling masonry.

Buildings with street-facing URM parapets and facades on busy thoroughfares present significant risks to life safety due to their vulnerability in an earthquake event. Securing URM parapets and facades is a cost-effective way to reduce risks to life safety and increase public confidence in the event of further aftershocks or earthquakes.

Questions and answers, including which streets in the above areas are affected, are available on the MBIE Corporate website.

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund

In recognition of the public and private benefits from securing URM parapets and facades, the government and affected councils have established the Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund (approximately $4.5 million) to support building owners in areas of increased risk of further earthquakes in the next 12 months to meet the requirements.

The fund will contribute up to half of the costs of the actual work involved in securing the parapet and/or facade, up to a maximum of $10,000 for a parapet and $15,000 for a facade. The fund is only available for building work to satisfy the requirement to secure URM parapets and facades where a building owner has been issued with a notice under section 124 of the Building Act (as modified by the Order in Council) for ‘street-facing URM buildings’.

You can apply to MBIE for support from the Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund using the application form on this page.

Information for URM building owners

This information is for building owners who have received a notice from their council, under section 124 of the Building Act, instructing them to secure the parapet and/or facade of their unreinforced masonry (URM) building within 12 months.

Under certain conditions, work to secure parapets and facades can be done without a building consent. You may also be able to receive funding support. It is important you know and comply with the conditions when securing your parapet and/or façade.

Get advice from a building professional has further information.

You will have received a notice from your local council, under section 124 of the Building Act, instructing you to secure the street-facing parapet and/or facade of your URM building to reduce or remove the risk of it falling in an earthquake.

The work must be done within 12 months from the date the notice was issued.

The notice has been issued because the council considers that your building’s parapet and/or facade is not been secured or strengthened to an acceptable standard that will reduce or remove the danger of it falling in an earthquake.

If you believe your parapet and/or facade has been secured or strengthened to an acceptable standard, please provide evidence to your council as soon as possible. This may include:

  • copies of permits/consents and compliance documents for work done to secure or strengthen the parapet and/or facade
  • engineering reports (if the reports were done some years ago they may need updating)
  • site reports and/or producer statements
  • photographs of work done to secure or strengthen the parapet and/or facade.

Technical guidance

MBIE has prepared technical guidance that provides support to building owners, engineers, and councils to assist them with complying with their obligations under the Order in Council and the Building Act 2004.

Securing parapets and facades on unreinforced masonry buildings

Application form

You can apply to MBIE for support from the Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund using the application form on this page. You will need to provide evidence to support your claim, including:

  • a written copy of advice from the council to show that the building is now secure and the section 124 notice has been complied with.
  • itemised invoices that:
    • relate to the recoverable costs, eg explicit stating of ‘costs associated with protecting those doing securing remediation’
    • state both labour hourly rate and hours claimed, supported with contractual documents. If fixed costs, evidence that costs were agreed in advance and any agreed escalation payments will be required
    • clearly separate qualifying work and non-qualifying work where building work is done for work outside of the section 124 obligations

The application form includes a declaration that all information provided with claims is true and correct.

MBIE may contact you in relation to your application, especially in situations where not all required information is provided.

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: