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Wellingtonians call for changes to earthquake strengthening rules

Wellingtonians call for changes to earthquake strengthening rules


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Some Wellington residents are calling for changes to earthquake strengthening rules for buildings.

Current rules, established in 2017, require buildings to be repaired ahead of schedule.

Building and Construction Minister Chris Pink announced that owners will now have an additional four years to repair their buildings while a review of the regulations is carried out.

The review was due to take place in 2027 but has been brought forward to start immediately.

Wellington Inner City Earthquake Center spokeswoman Geraldine Murphy told the Morning Report they have been calling for a review for five years.

“The burdens of complying with this legislation, especially on condo owners who are just homeowners like everyone else, are risky, expensive, complex and problematic in multi-owner environments.”

Murphy said New Zealand's earthquake rules were different from every other jurisdiction she looked at.

“They don't have that one size fits all [approach]where you go and arrive at a building and say, “This part is vulnerable to earthquakes,” so your building is vulnerable to earthquakes.”

Building standards need to be more realistic and realistic about the seismic risks we are trying to address, she said.

Maurice Clark, managing director of McKee Fehl, told RNZ the extension was an acceptance of the current environment for the construction industry.

Clark said the local and national sector faces high interest rates, high insurance, high regulation and low demand.

He said they were working in two heritage buildings now and struggling to get tenants.

“You can't spend a pile of money to strengthen something and have it stay empty.”

Clark said there was a need for change in seismic strengthening regulation.

Wellington Mayor Tori Wahanno said the announcement of the four-year extension and introduction of the earthquake-prone buildings review would come as a relief to many Wellingtonians.

“This is a very complex issue. It is important that New Zealand has a building strengthening system that is fit for purpose.”

“Closing earthquake-prone buildings comes with significant social and economic costs, often resulting in an unsustainable and unsustainable situation for building owners.”

Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown also backed the government's announcement.

Brown said he would call on the government to review earthquake enhancement rules.

“It makes no sense for Auckland as our greatest risks are volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

“I'm not really convinced yet that this should apply at all in Auckland.”

He said the extension would enable people to properly assess the needs of each property.

“We don't want empty buildings in Auckland because of illogical rules, especially at a time when Aucklanders are suffering.”




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