Council to begin formal identification of quake prone buildings

The Hurunui District Council will be reviewing the structural performance of all commercial and public buildings in its district.

The move signals the adoption of a more ‘pro-active’ approach following the required five yearly review of the council’s Earthquake-prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy.

The Policy has, until now, only required building owners to strengthen commercial and non-residential buildings as part of any consideration of building consent applications for remedial or upgrading work.

Council staff will work through information already on file to identify non-residential buildings of a certain age or condition that may be earthquake-prone for follow-up on-site assessments by a suitably qualified chartered engineer.

Owners of buildings considered earthquake-prone, following the council review, will need to commission a detailed assessment and undertake subsequent strengthening work over a period of 15-30 years, depending on the use of their building.

As a result of the review and accompanying consultation process, Mayor Winton Dalley sees there is a general acceptance in the community the Council needs to do more to identify earthquake-prone buildings.

While he says there are, understandably, some concerns around costs, “the Council has had to balance those against the risks presented to the public” using the buildings in the event of an earthquake.

“This is not a knee jerk reaction to the Canterbury earthquakes; rather it is a considered and timely response to a tragic event which has claimed property and lives. We want to be sure, should an earthquake strike our district in the future, that we have been responsible in doing what we can to minimise any risk to human life and property.”

Buildings identified as earthquake-prone will also need, where practicable, to be strengthened to at least 67% of the current building code requirements for new building construction, as recommended by the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering.

The legislative minimum is to strengthen to 33% of the current building code requirements.

Much of the costs, at least in the early stages, will be borne by the Council. The estimated cost of identifying potentially earthquake prone buildings is around $75,000 to $160,000.

The Council will need to make provision in its annual and long term plans for additional funding for the follow-up assessments and any strengthening work it will need to cover.

Of the approximately 200 buildings in the district that may be potentially earthquake prone, 68 are council owned.

For further information contact:

Judith Batchelor

Environmental Services Manager

Hurunui District Council

P: 03 314 0024