E/Q Prone Bldgs

Legislation, policy and Council's role.

Legislation for earthquake prone buildings

The Building Act 2004 requires each territorial authority to have an earthquake-prone building (EQPB) policy for its district. The policy (click here>> to read the policy) is intended to set out the approach that the territorial authority is taking with regard to earthquake-prone buildings, in particular the upgrade of buildings so that they are no longer earthquake-prone.

A comprehensive list of FAQ's has just been posted on our website. Click here>> to view them.

Check out our updates page>> with news on policy developments and progress.

What does ‘earthquake-prone’ mean and does it apply to all buildings?

  • Essentially, an earthquake-prone building is an existing building that will have strength that is 33% or less of the seismic loading standard for new buildings.
  • A building designed to the current design standards would have at least 100% of New Building Strength (NBS). Existing buildings are assessed and given a %NBS. If a building is less than 33% NBS, it is classed as earthquake-prone.
  • The technical definition of an earthquake-prone building is set out in Section 122 of the Building Act 2004.
  • Small residential buildings (houses) are exempt from the provisions of the Act.

Council's role

There has been a number of issues raised by the Greymouth business community concerning earthquake prone buildings and the Grey District Council’s (GDC) role.
Council has two roles in relation to this:

  1. As a building owner itself, GDC needs to comply with the earthquake prone building policy, health and safety responsibilities and other statutory requirements. To this end GDC is undertaking a review of all its own buildings not currently considered to meet the minimum requirements of the building code through engineering assessments. Where GDC finds one of its own buildings not meeting the requirements, it is placing placards to ensure the public is aware of the status of the building. This is not a mandatory requirement under the earthquake prone buildings policy.
  2. As a regulator of buildings in the Grey District, GDC also has the responsibility to develop and enforce an earthquake prone buildings policy. The current policy is summarised as follows:
  • The policy applies to all buildings except private dwellings.
  • The policy currently requires buildings to meet earthquake strengthen standards of 33% of the building code*.
  • The policy requires GDC to notify all owners of the relevant buildings that their building may not meet this standard by around July 2012.
  • From July 2012 building owners will have until July 2013 to have completed an Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP) for the building and/or until July 2014 to get a Detailed Engineering Assessment (DA) for the building.
  • An IEP is not mandatory if a detailed assessment is carried out. If the building is old and constructed from unreinforced masonry, then a DA is likely to be required and the IEP will add no value.
  • The policy then requires building owners to undertake strengthening works within certain timeframes, depending on the age and risk of the building*. However, these timings do not take effect until after the detailed assessment stage has been completed, essentially after July 2014.

*Council has recently suspended the strengthening timing requirements of its earthquake prone buildings policy on the basis that central government is reviewing the minimum required strengthening i.e from 33% - 67% of the building code, and for the full outcome of the Royal Commission into the Canterbury earthquakes. The policy will then be updated following the conclusion of the Commission and reviews. However the policy still requires the relevant building owners to undertake the engineering assessments and/or IEPs in line with the timings stipulated above.

Grey District Council Buildings
Asset and Engineering Department
Email>> or phone (03) 769 8611

Earthquake prone building policy
Environmental Services Department
Email>> or phone (03) 769 8608

Check out the following pages for more information and please feel free to contact Council if you have any queries at all.

n Updates page
n FAQ's, procedures and timelines
n Building design for earthquakes
n Council's Earthquake Prone Building (EQPB) Policy
n Council buildings
Information sessions


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Building Department

Email the Building Department>>
Phone + 64 3 769 8608