Owners of Wellington buildings with similar characteristics to the city's closed central library can expect requests for engineering assessments by the end of the year.

Wellington City Council (WCC) started with a list of 155 of these buildings, which in an ongoing process has now been narrowed down to "tens".

The council would not be pressed on giving a more specific number. The buildings on the list remain secret, for now.

The library was closed after the release of new guidelines proposed by MBIE after two floors of Statistics House partially collapsed in the Kaikoura Earthquake.

Advertisement

Bowen House, home to party leaders, MPs and parliamentary support staff, is also undergoing a full seismic assessment, which includes how it measures up against these guidelines.

Parliamentary Services expects to receive a report into the seismic status of Bowen House, far left, by the end of next week. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Parliamentary Services expects to receive a report into the seismic status of Bowen House, far left, by the end of next week. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The guidelines themselves are not yet part of legislation and cannot be used to determine whether a building is earthquake prone.

It means the council has no regulatory power over owners who have potentially problematic buildings identified under them.

But WCC chief resilience officer Mike Mendonça said they would be appealing to owners regardless.

"We feel that in light of what happened with Statistics House in particular, that we would rather satisfy ourselves than to leave it open to chance."

The characteristics council officers have been looking for are buildings between four and 15 storeys high, that were built between 1970 and 2000, have precast concrete panel floors, and are of a ductile nature.

Two floors partially collapsed at Statistics House in the Kaikoura Earthquake. Photo / Supplied
Two floors partially collapsed at Statistics House in the Kaikoura Earthquake. Photo / Supplied

When they have finished compiling the list, based off analysis from drawings and plans, they will ask building owners to do physical checks, which means getting engineers involved.

"Until that has been done we will not know for sure if we need to be worried about these buildings," Mendonça said.

Advertisement

Building owners would be given between six and 12 months to report back to the council.

Buildings and their owners would not be identified at this stage.

"The last thing we want to do is tarnish the reputation of the building or an owner with this kind of information when it fact it may not be true. So we need to be 100 per cent sure before we do anything", Mendonça said.

Engineering New Zealand is gathering evidence around the impact of these proposed guidelines on building assessments, so MBIE can decide whether or not to put them in the official rulebook.

This effective trialling of the guidelines is expected to take a couple of years, leaving authorities like Wellington City Council with no power in the meantime.

"Technically, building owners could ignore us, but generally speaking we've found most building owners in Wellington to be responsible and engaged and interested to find out about their own building", Mendonça said.

Parliamentary Services expects to receive a report into the seismic status of Bowen House by the end of next week.