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Earthquake Prone Buildings

The Building Act 2004 requires territorial authorities to adopt policies on earthquake-prone buildings within their districts. Tauranga City Council adopted its policy on 7 March 2006.

The Earthquake Prone Policy is directed at buildings that were built before 1976, in particular, buildings with 33% or less of the strength of buildings built to current Building Code standards.

The Policy affects all types of buildings except for those wholly or mainly used for residential purposes. Residential properties that are affected by the Policy are those that have two or more stories and contain three or more household units.

Buildings built after 1976 are unlikely to be earthquake-prone. 

How is the Council prioritising earthquake-prone buildings?

Council has started by evaluating the buildings in the CBD, because it contains the highest concentration of older buildings and public occupancy.

Prioritisation is determined by:

  • a building’s importance, eg whether it has a post-disaster function or has a high occupancy  and
  • its age and condition relative to the code to which it was built or previously strengthened

Can I buy or sell an earthquake-prone building?

Yes. The new owner will become responsible for the seismic strengthening. It is recommended that purchasers carry out independent investigations prior to purchasing a property that is likely to be earthquake-prone.

I need to find out whether a building is earthquake-prone before the Council has done an IEP. What can I do?

You can approach an engineer to undertake an independent IEP (at your own cost). This will give you a guide as to the strength of the building. The Council maintains the right to review these findings.

I am doing alterations to an earthquake-prone building. Do I have to strengthen my building at this time?

Yes. Where Council receives a building consent application for upgrading or alteration of a building which is confirmed as being earthquake-prone, then the building will need to be strengthened to comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable with the current Building Code.

I am changing the use of my building. Does the Earthquake-Prone Building Policy affect me?

Yes. Council must be satisfied with the structural and seismic performance of a building when considering the intended change of use. If Council is not satisfied then the building will need to be strengthened to comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable with the current Building Code.

Can I dispute the classification of my building as earthquake-prone?

You can produce you own engineer’s report in order to challenge the result of an IEP. If you are unhappy with Council’s decision, you can ask the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to make a final, binding determination on whether your building is earthquake-prone.

Dangerous, earthquake-prone and insanitary buildings policy

Last Reviewed: 26/04/2016