Your Council

General Information

1.    Why is Council carrying out earthquake-prone building assessment work?

2.    Which buildings is Council planning to assess?

3.    What is a ‘household unit’?

4.    What does the assessment process involve?

5. Does the earthquake-prone building assessment work include residential buildings?

6.    What process will Council use to assess the strength of buildings to resist earthquakes?

7.   What is a potentially earthquake-prone building?

8.    If a building is profiled as earthquake-prone, what does that mean?

9.   What happens if buildings are assessed as being potentially earthquake-prone?

10.    What type of Engineering Assessment should I supply if my building is identified as ‘Potentially earthquake-prone”?

11.   What happens once I have an engineering assessment completed and given to Council?

12. What happens if I choose not to have an engineering assessment completed/ give it to Council if my building is determined to be potentially earthquake-prone?

13.  What is a section 133AL notice?

14.  What happens if my building is determined to be earthquake-prone?

15.  How long do I have to strengthen my building?

16.  Can I appeal against the earthquake-prone status and rating?

17.  Can I sell an earthquake-prone building?

18. Should I continue to occupy my building if it has been assessed as earthquake-prone?

19.  If I am strengthening an earthquake-prone building, is there other work that has to be done too?

20.  Is there any financial assistance available if I have to carry out strengthening on my building?

21.   As a member of the community, how will I know if a building in the Kāpiti Coast district is assessed as earthquake-prone?

22.   How can I find out more information about the earthquake-prone building work process? 

 

1.  Why is Council carrying out earthquake-prone building assessment work?

The earthquake-prone building assessment project is an important piece of work that we must carry out.  It is driven by central government and is a response to the Canterbury earthquakes.  Current legislation means councils need to assess and determine the seismic performance of earthquake-prone buildings across the country.

Council is undertaking this work under the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 which came into force on the 1st July 2017.

The earthquake-prone building assessment work is a major initiative included in Council’s FutureKāpiti - Long term plan 2015-35.

2. Which buildings is Council planning to assess?

The Building Act 2004 requires Council to profile commercial, industrial and school buildings – and residential buildings that are two or more storeys high and contain three or more household units. Generally rural buildings and timber framed buildings will not be profiled.

Council can also identify a building as potentially earthquake prone at any time under section 133AG (3) of the Building Act 2004, if Council has reason to suspect the building may be earthquake prone. These reasons can include if Council receives an engineering assessment or other material that contains information on the buildings seismic performance or if Council becomes aware of issues with the buildings.

3.  What is a ‘household unit’?

The Building Act 2004 defines a household unit as:

A building or group of buildings, or part of a building or group of buildings, that is:

(i) used, or intended to be used, only or mainly for residential purposes; and

(ii) occupied, or intended to be occupied, exclusively as the home or residence of not more than 1 household; but does not include a hostel, boarding house, or other specialised accommodation

4. What does the assessment process involve?

Council initially conducted a pilot in February 2016 to standardise the processes that was used by our technical specialists to assess a building’s earthquake-prone status.  To do this, we assessed a mix of 26 Council-owned buildings and privately-owned commercial buildings.

Since the pilot has been completed, Council has completed approximately 30% of 1500 buildings to be assessed (as at June 2017). 

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into force on the 1st July 2017 and sets out new criteria for Councils to assess buildings.  Under the new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings territorial authorities, engineers and building owners have key roles to play.

These are set out in the Building Act and can be summarised as:

  • territorial authorities identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings
  • owners who are notified by their territorial authority must obtain engineering assessments of the      building carried out by suitably qualified engineers
  • territorial authorities determine whether buildings are earthquake prone, assign ratings, issue      notices and publish information about the buildings in a public national register
  • owners are required to display notices on their building and to remediate their building.

The Building Act also divides New Zealand into three seismic risk areas – high, medium and low. Kapiti Coast is a high seismic risk area.

There are set time frames, based on these seismic risk areas. They include time frames for territorial authorities to identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings and for building owners to remediate earthquake-prone buildings. The Kāpiti Coast District Council has 5 years to identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings and building owners will then have 15 years to remediate the earthquake prone building or part of the building.

More details on the identification and assessment of potentially earthquake-prone buildings can be found on the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment website.

5.  Does the earthquake-prone building assessment work include residential buildings?

The Building Act 2004 requires us to profile all commercial, industrial and school buildings ad residential buildings that are two or more storeys high and contain three or more household units (such as apartment building or boarding houses).

Buildings that will not be profiled include single storey residential buildings and two (or more) storey residential buildings that contain only one or two household units.

The following buildings are excluded from the profile categories:

i)  A building that is constructed primarily of timber framing without other construction materials providing lateral support;

ii)  A building strengthened to at least 34%NBS (or the equivalent of this) so that the building cannot be considered earthquake prone;

iii)  A building that a territorial authority has previously notified the owner in writing is not earthquake prone prior to commencement;

iv)  A building that the territorial authority has found to be earthquake prone and for which it has issued a notice under section 124 of the Building Act prior to commencement (and is therefore subject to Schedule 1AA of the Building Act);

v)  A building for which the territorial authority has a previous assessment that has a %NBS reported for the building greater than 34%NBS and that meets the criteria set out in section 3.3 of this methodology; and

vi)  Buildings for which a territorial authority obtains information or a special study that shows a particular subset of buildings is not earthquake prone due to particular circumstances or special local characteristics, where there is a robust technical basis for this information or study.

6.  What process will Council use to assess the strength of buildings to resist earthquakes?

From 1st July 2017 the Council must use the Earthquake-prone Buildings Methodology released by the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment. More information can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

7.  What is a potentially earthquake-prone building?

Potentially earthquake-prone means that a building is profiled as likely  less than one third of current seismic loading standard (NZS1170.5:2004) and/ or elements of the building are likely to collapse causing injury, death or damage to other property in a moderate earthquake.

8.  If a building is profiled as earthquake-prone, what does that mean?

An “earthquake-prone building” is a structure that is less than one third of the current new building standard (NBS). These are buildings estimated to pose 20 times the risk of buildings complying with current building standards.

The earthquake-prone provisions of the Building Act 2004 focus on the prevention of personal injury and the protection of other properties.

It is important to understand that just because a building is not profiled as earthquake prone; it does not mean it won’t be damaged in an earthquake. It can be expected that after a strong earthquake, buildings that have kept the occupants safe from injury can still need extensive repair before being reoccupied and may even have to be demolished. The higher the level of strengthening, the better the chances the building can continue to be used, and for building owners, avoiding the need for expensive repairs.

More detailed definition of ‘earthquake-prone’ is available in section 133AB of the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016

9.  What happens if buildings are assessed as being potentially earthquake-prone?

If you are the building owner, Council will send you a letter advising you that your building is assessed as potentially earthquake-prone.  Before it’s formally determined to be earthquake-prone, you will have the opportunity (12 months) to provide an engineering assessment for your building for consideration.  This engineering assessment has to be completed by an independent structural engineer.

10.  What type of Engineering Assessment should I supply if my building is identified as ‘potentially earthquake-prone”?

The Act requires that you provide an Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA) or a Detailed Seismic Assessment (DSA).

More information on the ISA and DSA process is available through the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineers’ Website

11.  What happens once I have an engineering assessment completed and given to Council?

Once we’ve considered the engineering assessment you provide, Council will contact you to notify you of our final determination of the building’s earthquake-prone status and the rating.

If on reviewing the engineering assessment supplied, Council is satisfied that your building is more than one-third of the current seismic loading standard (NZS 1170.5:2004), it will be considered unlikely to be earthquake prone.

If however, on reviewing the engineering assessment supplied, Council considers that your building is less than one-third of the current seismic loading standard (NZS 1170.5:2004), it will be determined to be earthquake prone under section 133AK of the Building Act 2004.

Council will issue an earthquake-prone building notice to the building owner, to the occupiers and to any persons or organisations that have an interest in the building. This is required under section 133AL of the Building Act 2004. In the interests of public safety, a copy of the section 133AL notice will also be fixed in a prominent position on the building. 

The earthquake-prone building (section 133AL) notice will require you as the building’s owner to reduce or remove the danger posed by the building within 15 years (7.5 years for priority buildings).  This could be achieved by strengthening or demolition.

When an earthquake prone notice is issued, the building and notice information will be registered on the Earthquake Prone Buildings Register.

12. What happens if I choose not to have an engineering assessment completed/ give it to Council if my building is determined to be potentially earthquake-prone?

If you do not provide an engineering assessment, you building will default to less than one-third of the current seismic loading standard (NZS 1170.5:2004), it will still be determined to be earthquake prone under section 133AKof the Building Act 2004 and given the lowest seismic rating for the building.

Council will issue an earthquake-prone building notice to the owner, to the occupiers and to any persons or organisations that have an interest in the building. This is required under section 133AL of the Building Act 2004. In the interests of public safety, a copy of the section 133AL notice will also be fixed in a prominent position on the building. 

The earthquake-prone building (section 133AL) notice will require the building’s owner to reduce or remove the danger posed by the building within 15 years (7.5 years for priority buildings).  This could be achieved by strengthening or demolition.

13.  What is a section 133AL notice?

A section 133AL notice is issued to owners of buildings deemed to be earthquake prone. The notice gives notice to occupiers and visitors to the building about the strength of the building. The notice also give a time limit for the building owner to reduce or remove the danger posed by the building.  This could be achieved by strengthening or demolition.

14.  What happens if my building is determined to be earthquake-prone?

If your building is determined to be earthquake prone, Council will issue an earthquake-prone building notice to you as the owner, to the occupiers and to any persons or organisations that have an interest in the building. This is required under section 133AL of the Building Act 2004. In the interests of public safety, a copy of the section 133AL notice will also be fixed in a prominent position on the building.

When an earthquake prone notice is issued, the building and notice information will be registered on the Earthquake-prone Buildings Register.

Information regarding the earthquake-prone status of the building, including any correspondence from Council about the matter, is publicly available on request and will be included in the LIM relating to your property.

The earthquake-prone building (section 133AL) notice will require building owners to reduce or remove the danger posed by the building within the time limits set out in the notice.  This could be achieved by strengthening or demolition. Building owners are responsible for all costs associated with upgrading their buildings.  Any upgrade work or demolition may require a building consent.

http://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/Your-Council/Planning/Building/building-consent-guidelines/

15.  How long do I have to strengthen my building?

As the Kāpiti Coast is located in a high seismic zone, the timeframe for strengthening is 15 years (7.5 years for priority buildings).

16.  Can I appeal against the earthquake-prone status and rating?

Yes, you can seek a review of Council’s decision. Under the Building Act 2004, you can apply for a determination which is managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.

17.  Can I sell an earthquake-prone building?

Yes.  The new owner will be responsible for the seismic strengthening within the specified timeframe so it is advisable that purchasers undertake independent investigations prior to purchasing a property that is likely to be earthquake-prone.

18.  Should I continue to occupy my building if it has been assessed as earthquake-prone?

The Building Act 2004 allows unrestricted use of buildings profiled as earthquake prone (there are some exceptions in the Canterbury area).   However, the Health and Safety at work Act 2015 (HSWA) places responsibility on building owners and business managers to take all practicable steps to eliminate isolate or minimise hazards in the context of current knowledge. Dealing with earthquake-related hazards: Information for employers and owners of workplace buildings - Position Statement | Worksafe

It is important to understand that if a building is not profiled as earthquake-prone, it does not mean it won’t be damaged in an earthquake.  It can be expected that after a strong earthquake, buildings that have kept the occupants safe from injury can still need extensive repair before being reoccupied and may even have to be demolished.

Public safety is the first concern in an emergency situation, with buildings and contents of secondary concern.  The earthquake-prone provisions of the Building Act 2004 focus on the prevention of personal injury and the protection of other properties.

19.  If I am strengthening an earthquake-prone building, is there other work that has to be done too?

You will need to consider access and facilities for those with disabilities, and means of escape from fire as part of the building consent application. We encourage you to discuss this with one of our duty Building Control Officers.  Please call Council on 0800 486 486 or call into our Rimu Road, Paraparaumu office to speak to one of our duty Building Control Officers in person. Information is also available on the Council’s website.

20.  Is there any financial assistance available if I have to carry out strengthening on my building?

Under Council’s Long term plan 2015-35, there is no provision for providing financial assistance.

21.  As a member of the community, how will I know if a building in the Kāpiti Coast district is assessed as earthquake-prone?

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has established a public Earthquake-prone Buildings Register. You can access this register here.

If you have any questions in regards to a particular building, please call us on 0800 486 486 or email: EQPBuildings@kapiticoast.govt.nz

22.  How can I find out more information about the earthquake-prone building work process?

- There is additional information on Council’s website including links to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Website

- You can call us on 0800 486 486, or email: EQPBuildings@kapiticoast.govt.nz

- You can also sign up to our quarterly E- Newsletter. Just email: EQPBuildings@kapiticoast.govt.nz to sign up. 

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