Buildings face earthquake testing

By Matthew Martin

The Rotorua District Council is about to assess almost 1000 public and privately owned buildings under its Earthquake Prone Building Policy.

Rotorua District Council Building Services manager Darrell Holder said the Building Act required all territorial authorities to implement an earthquake-prone building policy. The legislation did not require residential buildings to be strengthened, unless they were two or more storeys and contained three or more household units, he said.

"Today, there is a greater awareness and understanding of the risks posed by earthquake-prone buildings and this has translated into building owners undertaking strengthening work to keep tenants, employees and customers safe and to minimise insurance premiums."

He said the council required building owners to undertake strengthening when there was a significant alteration or a change of use to a property.

"This year, the council will be assessing relevant building stock and will be notifying building owners where it is suspected that a building may be earthquake-prone."

Owners would then have between one to three years to obtain an independent report from a suitably qualified engineer and between five and 15 years to fix any problems.

He said building standards had evolved as engineers gained knowledge from events, such as the Christchurch earthquakes. Those findings were often translated into changes to the building code and building standards.

There were changes to the standards in 1976 and buildings constructed before that date were deemed to be potentially earthquake prone. This is done on a case-by-case basis and only an assessment by a qualified engineer can confirm if work needs to be done or not.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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