Earthquake Prone Building Information

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.

Heritage EQUIP Fund

Funding is available to support earthquake strengthening of earthquake prone heritage buildings. For more information see our Earthquake Prone Heritage Buildings page.

Legislation Changes

The Government enacted  the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 on 13 May 2016. An overview is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Building Performance website.

MBIE is seeking public submissions on its Earthquake-prone building regulations and methodology which will clarify how the requirements of the Act are to be met. The submission deadline has been extended to 10 February 2017 in response to the Kaikoura earthquakes. It is anticipated that this new law will come into effect on 1 July 2017.

In the meantime, the Building Act 2004 and Councils existing policy remain in place.

List of Earthquake Prone Buildings

You can find a list of buildings identified as earthquake-prone on this page.

Occupying Earthquake Prone Buildings

Should we continue to occupy our building if it has an evaluated strength less than 33%NBS (new building standard)?

Building owners are primarily responsible for safety and compliance of their buildings and each case needs to be considered on it’s own merits.

The mitigation of earthquake risk in buildings needs to be considered in terms of what needs to be undertaken in the short-term and what can be carried out over a period of years as part of a longer-term risk reduction programme.

The Building Act 2004 allows unrestricted use of earthquake prone buildings (some exceptions in Canterbury area).   However, the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE) does place responsibility on building owners and business managers to take all practicable steps to eliminate, isolate or minimise hazards in the context of current knowledge.

Nelson City Council’s current policy allows up to 20 and 30 years to mitigate the hazard for most buildings.

Building owners should not wait for the Council to contact them before addressing concerns about buildings.

Even if an undamaged building is 33%NBS or less (and therefore earthquake-prone) it does not necessarily mean that the building is unsafe and should not be occupied. Building owners need to make their own decisions about how to manage their buildings (subject to any notices that may be given by the council), taking into account the individual circumstances of each building and the risks that are present.

Building owners should seek advice from a chartered professional engineer.  Note that engineers should only provide recommendations about the continued use of buildings once a suitable level of investigation has been completed. Preliminary screening tools such as the Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA) or Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP) should not generally be considered adequate for significant decisions about ongoing occupation or strengthening decisions.

Worksafe New Zealand Position Statement

Worksafe new Zealand have issued a position statement on dealing with earthquake-related hazards that is directed at employers, owners of workplace buildings and their advisers (such as engineers).

Read it on the WORKSAFE New Zealand website.

Find out more