Better solutions for earthquake-prone buildings

  • Hon Chris Penk

Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk has announced that the review into better managing the risks of earthquake-prone buildings has commenced.

“The terms of reference published today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring we get the balance right between public safety and costs to building owners,” Mr Penk says.

“The Government is focused on reinvigorating our cities and regions to support economic growth. Buildings sitting empty and abandoned for months, or, in many cases, years is bad for everyone. Empty, derelict buildings can be dangerous, but they are also a handbrake on growth and development and can suck the life out of a town or city.

“The earthquake-prone building system attempts to manage risk by requiring earthquake-prone buildings to be remediated before set timeframes. However, the system is not working as well as it could, and the reality is many buildings are not getting remediated.

“Many building owners are unable to meet deadlines due to high remediation costs and an excessive layering of regulations.

“The current system lacks clarity, and some owners are stuck in impossible situations, where they can’t move forward with the remediation but equally struggle to sell and move on with their lives.

“This is why we have acted with urgency to bring forward the review to provide certainty and ensure we get a good balance between protecting lives and real-world costs.”

The review will be extensive and report back in the first half of 2025 with a focus on:

  • cost of mitigating earthquake risk and improving buildings’ resilience
  • proposals for managing earthquake risk with effect on private property owners
  • barriers and the types of incentives that would help building owners better manage seismic risk
  • changes that align with broader Government objectives, such as going for housing growth and rebuilding the economy

“It’s important that the review takes a fresh look. An external, independent chair has been appointed to lead the work to ensure it is a rigorous process that Kiwis can have confidence in.”

The public can provide feedback and share their views via the building.govt.nz site or by emailing [email protected]

Notes to the editor:

  • The full terms of reference can be found on the building performance website here.
  • Remediation deadlines for earthquake prone buildings will be extended for four years while the review is underway. These changes will require an amendment to the Building Act 2004 with the intention that this bill be passed before the end of 2024.

/Public Release. View in full here.