The Council is responsible for more than 300 buildings across the city, which we manage on behalf of the people of Hamilton.
Our building stock ranges from modern purpose-built structures to old community halls built in the early 20th century, grandstands and pavilions, and the vital buildings which house our water treatment operations – and, of course, our staff. We have 49 of buildings considered "significant", because they're vital to the services we provide to the city, because they're used extensively by the community, or because they are occupied (either consistently, or for events) by a large number of people.
We're subject to the same building legislation we're also tasked with implementing in our community. The Government has rules and guidance, in particular, when it comes to the seismic strength of buildings – by which we mean the buildings' ability to withstand an earthquake.
An important tool in managing and measuring buildings' seismic is the New Building Standard (NBS) score
Of particular relevance to the Council is The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 (the Act), which became effective on 1 July 2017. The Act requires councils to determine if buildings are earthquake-prone, and if they are, councils must carry out physical works within the timeframes specified by the Building Act - or demolish the building(s).
To give our community reassurance, we have a programme of work well underway to assess all our buildings. We carry out either an Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA), or a Detailed Seismic Assessment (DSA) – and the results of those dictate the steps we take on buildings, in particular whether we need to strengthen or modify buildings.
In 2017, we also adopted the Seismic Performance of Buildings Policy – approved by the Mayor and Councillors – which guides our approach to the management of our buildings.
The policy has several key features:
- When and what type of assessments are required for buildings.
- Acceptable New Building Standard percentage operating minimum for buildings.
- NBS percentage targets for buildings and other information required for decision making on upgrades.
- Priority vs significance.
- The placement of an Earthquake Prone Building notice on a building, vs closure of that building.
For earthquake-prone buildings – those with a New Build Standard rating of less than 34% - the Act only requires us to place a EPB notice on the building and then strengthen the building within a certain timeframe.
However, we decided if a building is at less than 20% NBS as determined through a DSA, a closure will be considered.
Our role as custodians of public buildings is to ensure we manage the buildings as effectively and efficiently as possible, and ensure they are safe to occupy or if the risk is managed properly. Our staff provide advice to the Mayor and Councillors on when and how we need to budget for any building assessments or physical work we do.