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Easing the impact of earthquake strengthening for provincial New Zealand

A change to the system for managing earthquake-prone buildings (EPBs) will make it easier for owners of these buildings in small towns to undertake modest building work, without having to start seismic strengthening work at the same time.

Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa announced the change at an event in Feilding today, hosted by the Manawatū District Council and attended by industry representatives and members of the local community.

The Manawatū District is in a high seismic risk area and Feilding’s town centre has been impacted by the new EPB system due to the number of buildings there with unreinforced masonry (URM).

Minister Salesa says the changes are another way the Government is helping to support thriving, sustainable regions.

“Previously, owners of EPBs would be required to strengthen their building when a substantial alteration was undertaken. This means an alteration, other than seismic work, that needs a building consent and together with other work consented in the last two years has an estimated value of at least 25% of the building’s value,” says Ms Salesa.

“This policy was having a disproportionate impact on provincial and small towns, due to many buildings having a low building value in those areas. This is discouraging modest and progressive building work from being undertaken in these areas.

“To address this impact, the EPB criteria for substantial alterations will be changed so that an alteration, other than seismic work, is substantial if it needs a building consent and together with other work consented in the last two years has an estimated value of at least 25% of the building’s value, but only if the value of the building work is greater than $150,000.

“The new regulations will allow modest building work to be done to an EPB, such as altering a kitchen, or fitting the place out for a tenancy, without triggering the requirement to carry out strengthening work immediately.

“This change will make it easier for EPB owners in small towns to undertake modest building work, without having to start seismic strengthening work at the same time.

“This reduces stress for building owners, while still maintaining the integrity of the EPB system,” Jenny Salesa says.

 

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