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Managing the earthquake risk in our built environment

From July 1st 2017, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) now have a national strategy in place to focus on mitigating the risk of earthquake prone buildings in New Zealand. This will involve working through what this means regarding the shared responsibility that the council, building owners and engineers have to work towards the goal of a safer built environment for us all.

For anyone wanting to find out information about this process and how the new legislation may effect you as a building owner or a member of the public, please use the MBIE website and the links (listed below) to provide you with the in-depth information on how this process is undertaken and the involvement of stakeholders such as Council, Building Owners, Engineers and MBIE.

The Timaru District Council has also invested time and resources to ensure the implementation of this process is as straight forward as possible and have staff available to answer any questions about how this may effect you and your building. You can call us on 03 687 7264 and Jonathan can walk you through the process.

For Building owners – we want to work with you through this process and facilitate an understanding of what the Act asks of you. If you own a heritage listed building, either NZ Heritage or via the Timaru District Plan, funds are available on both a local and more importantly, national level to assist you.

For our communities – this legislation, by and large, deals with non-residential buildings, focusing on the places where we work, shop and gather. Community involvement will be actively sort as we will be consulting on views related to priority/strategic routes around and through our district and thoroughfares that may be affected by earthquake-prone buildings

Structural Engineers – will play a vital role in the process, informing the decisions made by owners and the Council.

Setting the scene – some questions answered

What seismic risk area is Timaru District classified under?

We are in a medium risk zone – this rating is used when calculating necessary earthquake (EQ) strengthening for new buildings constructed in our area. This classification is also used in the time frames for assessment and remediation of EPBs.

What EQ rating will trigger a requirement to carry out strengthening work?

The engineers assessment will have to show the building achieves at least 34% New Building Standard (NBS) If all or part of the building does not achieve this, the building owner will be required to carryout remediation of the building.

I have a commercial building that was built around 1910, so I know it won’t be built to current standards – can I instruct an engineer to carry out an assessment now before council contact me?

You can start this process at any time, just make sure you and the engineer are aware of the protocol that MBIE wants followed. You can supply us with the report when it’s completed or when we ask for it.

My residential home is two storey brick built in 1890, do I have to have it assessed?

No, the Act does not require you to do so

I’m concerned about my Child's safety at school if an EQ occurred whilst they are at school.

All schools/ pre schools that have over 20 persons on site, will be part of the priority assessment category.

How long will I have to wait to hear from council about my commercial building?

The Act requires us to have completed assessing and notifying building owners of what will be deemed to be within the priority category inside five years the rest within in 10 years.  We anticipate completing this important task well within that time frame.

When I have received notification from the council that my building is a potential EQP building, how long to I have to get an engineer to complete a report on it?

You have one year which, in certain circumstances, can be extended a further year.

Once I have that report, how long do I have to get the work done?

12.5 years for a Priority building, 25 years for a non priority.

I own a 2 storey block of 6 residential flats that I rent out.  They were built in the 1930’s and made of brick/part rendered – will I be affected by the Act?

Though the Act primarily deals with non-residential buildings, your building would need to be assessed as it is 2 or more storeys and containing 3 or more dwellings.

MBIE Information links:

For  everyone - a link to the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016:
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2016/0022/22.0/DLM5616102.html

For Building owners and those interested in the process:
https://www.building.govt.nz/managing-buildings/managing-earthquake-prone-buildings/

If you are the owner of a building listed by NZ heritage or in the Timaru District Plan and wish to apply for a financial grant:  
http://www.mch.govt.nz/heritageequip/

Priority Building assessment process
https://www.building.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/building-code-compliance/b-stability/b1-structure/epb-priority-buildings.pdf

The  EPB Methodology:
https://www.building.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/building-code-compliance/b-stability/b1-structure/epb-methodology.pdf

For Structural Engineers
www.EQ-Assess.org.nz

This site contains all the guidance and templates that you will need to complete building reports.