Earthquake-prone buildings

Changes to legislation in 2016 meant Councils throughout New Zealand are required to identify earthquake prone buildings (EPB) in their council area.  There are different timelines for councils to complete this work depending on its seismic risk. New Zealand is divided into three seismic risk areas, with Hamilton rated as medium risk.

The national system ensures the way our buildings are managed for future earthquakes is consistent across the country. It also provides more information for people using buildings, such as notices on earthquake-prone buildings and a public register.

Earlier in 2021, MBIE confirmed all priority buildings in high-risk areas were identified by their respective councils. The next step is for high-risk areas to identify non-priority buildings, and for medium risk areas (like Hamilton) to identify their priority buildings, by 1 July 2022.

In late 2021 Hamilton City Council is providing information to owners of buildings within the city identified as earthquake prone or potentially earthquake prone. Buildings are regarded as earthquake-prone if they are assessed as being less than one-third of the strength required for a new build in the same location in moderate earthquake shaking. The rating is determined by a building's weakest element.

The rating does not mean the building is unsafe or cannot be used, it means it will not perform as well as a new building in a moderate earthquake.

Property owners who have not yet provided an assessment have 12 months to respond with information to determine whether or not their property is earthquake prone.

As a medium risk zone, there are lengthy timelines for owners to remediate earthquake prone buildings. In Hamilton this is 25 years, or 12.5 years for 'priority buildings' which are considered higher risk because of their construction, type, use or location.

If Council determines that a building is earthquake prone, it will:

  • assign an earthquake rating for that building,
  • issue an earthquake-prone buildings notice to the owner to display prominently on the building, and,
  • publish the building information on the earthquake-prone buildings register.

This short video gives you an introduction to the national system for managing earthquake-prone buildings. It explains why we have a national system and gives a brief overview of how the system works. 

For further information see the Ministry's website at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/building-and-energy/building/investigations-and-reviews-for-safer-buildings/managing-earthquake-prone-buildings/

If you have any questions about Hamilton's EPB work, please contact our Building Control team on Building@hcc.govt.nz (include EPB in the subject line) or you can phone us on (07) 838 6677.

What's the process?

The earthquake-prone building process can be summarised in five steps:

Identification:

The Council will identify buildings that are potentially earthquake-prone and notify owners.

Assessment:

Owners of potentially earthquake-prone buildings will then provide more information about their building to the Council. The Council will then confirm whether the building is earthquake-prone or not.

Notification:

Owners of earthquake-prone buildings will receive confirmation from the Council and will be issued an earthquake-prone building notice with a deadline to strengthen or demolish. A notice also shows the deadline by when a building must be fixed. The time frame for most buildings in Hamilton is 25 years, however, buildings that have been identified as priority buildings have 12.5 years.

Seismic work:

Owners of earthquake-prone buildings will then carry out seismic work to ensure that their building is no longer earthquake-prone. Fixing an earthquake-prone building involves seismic work. This normally involves strengthening, demolishing, or partially demolishing the building.

Removal of the notice:

The owners will notify the Council once seismic work has been completed and a code compliance certificate has been issued. The Council will then review the work and inform the building owner that the building is no longer considered earthquake prone. The notice can then be removed from the building.

Page reviewed: 03 Nov 2021 12:22pm