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Strengthen or demolish message sent to quake-prone building owners

Wednesday, March 15, 2017   Posted in: Earthquake By: Administrator With tags: earthquake recovery, rebuild, safety

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 15th March 2017

Damaged Old Provincial Chambers in Christchurch.Owners of about 900 earthquake-prone buildings in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula are being sent letters reminding them of their legal obligations to make their building safe.

The letters contain copies of section 124 notices which have been issued under the Building Act and require the buildings to be strengthen or demolished.

Under the existing legislation the owners have 15, 20 or 30 years to do that work, depending on whether they have a Category A, B or C building. Those time frames will shorten to between seven-and-a-half and 15 years when new national legislation comes into effect on 1st July 2017.

Until such time as the strengthening or demolition work is done, building owners must display the section 124 notice in a prominent place so the public are aware of the building’s status.

“Our primary concern is public awareness. We want the notices displayed prominently so it is clear to all people who work in them or visit that they are entering an earthquake-prone building,’’ said Christchurch City Council Head of Building Consents Robert Wright.

A building is considered earthquake-prone if a detailed engineering evaluation assesses it at 33 percent or less or the New Building Standard.

Buildings in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula that classed as earthquake-prone are listed on a publically searchable register maintained by the Council.

Mr Wright said the Council had already been in touch with the owners of the 900 buildings assessed as earthquake-prone to inform them of their building’s status. The Council was now following up with letters which outlined in detail the legal obligations the owners have to make sure their buildings, and their tenants, are safe.

Banks and other financial institutions with a stake in the buildings have also been sent copies of the letters.

“The letters spell out in details the time frames that the owners of each individual building have been given to either strengthen or demolish the building. It also reminds owners of their obligations to their tenants under the Health and Safety at Work Act," Mr Wright said.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the buildings in the city are safe for people to work in, visit, and live in. Owners should be aware that earthquake-prone building notices will not be withdrawn until a code compliance certificate or certificate of acceptance has been issued for the strengthening or demolition work."

Mr Wright said issuing the section 124 notices now should ensure the existing seismic evaluations of the buildings could be used under the new legislation, which should save building owners the expense of having to get a new evaluation done.

Find out more about what the Council is doing around earthquake-prone buildings and check out the earthquake-prone buildings register.

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