Earthquake prone buildings

New Zealand has a relatively high earthquake risk so it is important for safety reasons that buildings are built or upgraded to be safe in an earthquake.

What is the risk?

Tasman District is in both a high and medium seismic risk area, according to the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016.

The high seismic risk area is south of Wakefield and Tapawera and includes Murchison, St Arnaud, Belgrove, Motupiko and Kohatu. 

The medium seismic risk area includes Wakefield, Tapawera and all points north.

The Council must identify earthquake-prone buildings

The Council has set timeframes to identify buildings as either potentially earthquake-prone or not. Likewise, building owners have a set time to carry our seismic strengthening work.

The timeframes are set out in this table

Seismic risk  Council must identify buildings by Owner to complete seismic remediation within
 Category Priority buildings Other buildings Priority buildings Other buildings
High risk 1 Jan 2020 1 July 2022 7.5 years 15 years
Medium risk 1 July 2022 1 July 2027 12.5 years 25 years

What are priority buildings?

If a building failure would have significant impact on public safety or critical transport routes, it may be considered a priority building.

For example, hospital, emergency services, civil defence, or education buildings may be critical to recovery in an emergency or natural disaster. Other earthquake-prone buildings may be priority buildings due to their location, and the potential impact of their failure in an earthquake on critical transport routes.

Priority buildings must be identified and remediated in half the time of other buildings.

How do I know if my building is earthquake prone?

We're at the early stages of this process, but over time we will write to affected building owners. Once buildings are identified they are added to the national register.

View the Earthquake Prone Building Register(external link)

The register contains earthquake-prone buildings in Tasman District and throughout New Zealand.

What do building owners need to do?

Building owners will have 1 year, after being advised by us that their building is potentially earthquake-prone, to provide an engineering assessment. This period can be extended once, to a maximum of 12 months (maximum).

You'll need to write to us so we can consider an extension. The process is subject to strict criteria.

Seismic work definition

The definition of seismic work includes both strengthening of a building, or demolition.

If an earthquake-prone building notice is issued:

  • Owners of priority buildings in the high risk area will have 7.5 years from the date of the notice to complete seismic work.
  • Owners of priority buildings in the medium risk area will have 12.5 years from the date of the notice to complete seismic work.
  • Owners of other buildings will have  either 15 or 25 years from the date of the notice to complete seismic work.
  • Old notices, issued prior to 1 July 2017, will be reissued with updated deadlines, calculated from the original notice date. 
  • It may be possible for owners of earthquake prone buildings to apply for an exemption from the requirement to carry out seismic work. This is subject to strict criteria.
  • Owners of certain heritage buildings can apply for an extension of time to complete seismic work.
  • If a notice is issued, owners are advised to liaise with their insurers and  tenants to notify them of the current situation.
  • If an notice is issued, we may have to take steps to keep people safe, or restrict entry to the building to certain persons. This could also include parts of a building.

Is funding available for heritage buildings?

Funding is available to support earthquake strengthening of earthquake-prone heritage buildings. 

Read advice from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga(external link).

The Ministry for Culture & Heritage Manatu Taonga has a Heritage EQUIP fund, to support earthquake strengthening of earthquake prone heritage buildings.

Find out more on the Heritage EQUIP website(external link).

Where has this all come from?

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on 1 July 2017, amending the Building Act 2004 (“Act”). This overrides and replaces the earthquake-prone provisions of Councils’ former Earthquake-prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Building Policy 2006.

An overview and detail of the new regime is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Building Performance website(external link).

The council adopted this policy in March 2019

Further reading

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