Earthquake-Prone Buildings                                      

The Building Act 2004 requires all Territorial Authorities to adopt a policy on Earthquake-prone buildings and to assess public buildings and some large residential buildings (such as multi-unit residential apartments) for earthquake resistance. 

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act contains major changes to the current system for identifying and remediating earthquake-prone buildings under the Building Act 2004. Refer to the new framework for managing earthquake-prone buildings (on MBIE website), to get a better understanding of the key changes involved, related legislation additions and changes to the Building Act and how it will effect Territorial Authorities, building owners, users and Engineers. 

Section 122 of the Building Act, its related regulations set out that a building is earthquake prone if the building is likely to collapse in a moderate earthquake (taking into account its condition, the ground on which it is built, and its construction) causing injury or death to people in the building and nearby, and damage to other property. The provisions do not apply to single-storey residential buildings or household units of two or less units.     

A moderate earthquake (Section 122, Building Act) is defined as: 
In relation to a building, an earthquake that would generate shaking at the site of the building that is of the same duration as, but that is one-third as strong as, the earthquake shaking (determined by normal measures of acceleration, velocity and displacement) that would be used to design a new building at the site.

Will my property be affected?

Properties in an apartment block, multi-storey residential building, non-residential building or structure are subject to the Earthquake-prone building policy.  The requirements do not apply if the property is a small residential building, such as a single or two-storey house.

The Earthquake-prone Buildings Policies of the Councils in the Waikato Building Consent Group can be viewed (as PDFs) by clicking the links below.

Hauraki District Council: Dangerous, Earthquake Prone and Insanitary Buildings Policy 2010 (PDF 55kb)

Otorohanga District Council: Earthquake-Prone Building Policy 2006 (PDF 31kb)

Matamata-Piako District Council: Earthquake-Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy (PDF 256kb)

Waikato District Council: Earthquake Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings (PDF 134kb)

Waipa District Council: Earthquake-Prone Building Policy 2006 (PDF 44kb)

Waitomo District Council: Earthquake Prone Buildings Policy - July 2011 (PDF 50kb)

Hamilton City Council: Earthquake-Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy (PDF 132kb)


Should I buy a building (or an apartment or commercial space in a building) that may be earthquake-prone?

As when buying any property, you should arrange for checks or surveys by a professional and independent person or organisation. This will help you understand the implications before proceeding with the purchase. This information may also be available in a Land Information Memorandum (LIM).

Dealing with earthquake-related hazards: Information for employers, and for owners of workplace buildings

WorkSafeNZ is New Zealand's workplace health and safety regulator as of Monday 16 December 2013. They have recently put out a Position Statement for employers and owners of workplace buildings (buildings that are work places or contain workplaces). This Position Statement covers

  • Employer / owner legal obligations under the Building Act 2004 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 which replaces the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, and the consequences of not complying with legislative requirements.
  • Identification and management of hazards and planning for emergencies through appropriate processes, plans and practice drills
  • Identification and management of risks associated with attached building components such as verandas, ceilings, glass
  • Identification and management of risks associated with chattels and equipment
  • Preparing for emergencies

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) who administer the Building Act 2004, have also posted a building safety advice in earthquakes for building owners. This covers the legal requirement to structurally upgrade a building if the building's use is going to be changes, or the building is dangerous, insanitary or earthquake prone. The page provides advice on how to go about assessing is work needs to be carried out.

Page last updated: 2016-05-31

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