Owners of 300 buildings in Wellington, Lower Hutt & Blenheim will be given a year to tie back unreinforced masonry façades & parapets.
Building & Construction Minister Nick Smith said last Wednesday an order-in-council would be issued requiring the work. The Government will provide a 50% subsidy up to $15,000 for a façade and $10,000 for a parapet.
The regulations are to be put in place by the end of February in consultation with the councils, and after consideration by the independent Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery Review Panel. The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment will administer the fund.
Dr Smith said the decision to order the work followed recommendations from the Society for Earthquake Engineers in late December in a report he’d requested after the 7.8-magnitude Kaikoura earthquake on 14 November.
He said in a release: “Unreinforced masonry façades & parapets posing a risk to the public in areas like Wellington, with a heightened risk of an aftershock from the Kaikoura earthquake, need to be secured within a year. The Kaikoura earthquake has significantly increased the seismic risks in Wellington, Lower Hutt & Blenheim during the next 3 years. The prudent response is to require and to assist building owners of these high risk, unreinforced masonry parapets & façades to secure them urgently. The tieback work comes at a cost of about $20-30,000, but significantly reduces the risk of fatalities in an earthquake.”
The Government is using its powers under the Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016 to require building owners to do the work within 12 months and has set up a $3 million fund to subsidise it. Dr Smith said the Government would also use its powers under the special law to exempt the work from requirements to gain resource & building consents provided it’s overseen by a qualified engineer.
He said the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment would provide guidance to facilitate the work.
39 people were killed by unreinforced masonry in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.
Attribution: Ministerial release, MBIE.