Knee-jerk reactions to government proposals are hardly necessary at Dunedin, the DCC’s earthquake-prone buildings policy has already been launched.
DCC Earthquake Strengthening + Policy
Dunedin City Council [policy planner – heritage] Glen Hazelton said the Government’s proposals were “pretty much in line” with the council’s existing policy. That policy required owners whose buildings were found to be less than 34% of code requirements to upgrade. Owners had between 15 and 34 years to do so, depending on the state of their building, meaning some would face shorter timeframes under the Government’s proposals than they had expected, but not extra costs. The most earthquake damage-prone buildings had faced the shortest timeframes anyway under the council’s policy. The council had warned owners of the possibility timeframes would be reduced from 34 years.
The council’s own buildings – including the likes of the Town Hall, Municipal Chambers and Railway Station – were already having their earthquake strength tested, council city property manager Robert Clark said. That work began early this year and up to 30 written reports on individual buildings were expected by mid-next year. Some, such as the Municipal Chambers, had already been strengthened, while others, like the Railway Station, were considered to be of sturdy construction, but were being checked, he said. Results were yet to be made public, but buildings appeared to be “measuring up at the moment”, reaching 66% of the building code or even better, he said. The council already faced extra costs, having initiated its own checks, but it was “appropriate” to do so and ensure the health and safety of staff and the public. He expected the checks would meet the requirements of the Government proposals, although detailed information was yet to be received. Mr Clark doubted buildings would need to be abandoned or demolished.
### NZ Herald Online 5:30 AM Saturday Dec 8, 2012
Earthquake changes could cost $1.7bn
By Isaac Davison
Uncompromising proposals to eliminate or strengthen earthquake-prone buildings could change the face of character areas such as Mt Eden’s Dominion Rd, and cause complex disputes in high-rise apartments owned by multiple parties. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has proposed seismic assessment of all commercial and high-rise, multi-unit buildings in New Zealand – believed to be 193,000 properties.
Those that were not upgraded to withstand a moderate-sized earthquake within 10 years of assessment would be demolished.
The Government proposals were in response to a Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission report on quake-prone buildings, released yesterday. The ministry broadly agreed with the Royal Commission’s recommendations, but it proposed more lenient timeframes for strengthening and did not agree that the minimum threshold for remedial work should be raised. Housing and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said to do so would impose “catastrophic” costs on society.
The Government proposals have been released in a consultation paper. If they are adopted, the cost of the changes would be borne by councils and property owners.
Read more + Q&A
Only 39 people died due to unreinforced masonry buildings at Christchurch, that’s remarkably few given the age and size of the city, the population size and concentration, and the extent of devastation caused by the quakes.
### NZ Herald Online 10:58 AM Friday Dec 7, 2012
Most NZ buildings to be quake assessed
By Isaac Davison
All non-residential buildings and high-rise, multi-unit apartments in New Zealand will be assessed for earthquake risk and the results made public under Government proposals released this morning.
Any building found to be at risk of collapse will have to be strengthened or demolished within 15 years under the proposed changes, which form the Government’s response to a Royal Commission investigation into earthquake-prone buildings after the Canterbury quakes.
The Government planned to adopt many of the commission’s recommendations, but has chosen longer timeframes and lower minimum standards of building strengthening than the report proposed.
The commission found there was poor information on earthquake-prone buildings in New Zealand, lack of central guidance on defining and repairing these structures, and variable council approaches to fixing the problem. Only 23 of 66 local authorities were able to tell the commission how many earthquake-prone buildings were in their area.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr