Earthquake Prone Buildings (EPB) framework

On July 1, 2017 the Building Amendment Act came into effect (the Amendment Act).

The Amendment Act draws on lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquakes and contains major changes to the current system for identifying and re-mediating earthquake-prone buildings.

Key changes

  • Establishes a more effective and nationally consistent framework that’s more responsive to risk.
  • Better targets districts and buildings in high-risk areas.
    Provides improved information.
  • Finds a balance between protecting people from harm, cost of strengthening or removing buildings, and impacts on heritage structures.
  • New document called the Earthquake-Prone Building methodology (EPB methodology).

This will ensure that central governments provide more leadership and direction for managing earthquake-prone buildings. Territorial authorities will no longer be required to develop individual policies for doing this, but will still be responsible for administering the Act’s requirements in their district.

New Zealand will be divided into three seismic risk areas – high, medium and low. The three risk areas are outlined below:

How the new framework will affect you

If you own a newly-assessed earthquake-prone building, the local territorial authority will advise that your building is potentially earthquake-prone. You’ll be required to provide an engineering assessment within 12 months. In some particular circumstances you can apply for an extension of up to 12 months. If you fail to provide an assessment (or notify the territorial authority), the territorial authority will proceed as though the building has been identified as earthquake-prone.

If you own an existing earthquake-prone building that’s previously been identified as earthquake-prone, the territorial authority will replace the existing notice requiring remediation with the new ‘EPB notice’ once the provisions take effect.

All existing deadlines will be preserved, unless the new system results in a shorter deadline or if you’re given a shorter period in which to complete the work under then old notice than the period relevant to your building under the new system.

Obligations under the Health and Safety Reform Bill

As a building owner, you’re required to take the practicable steps to ensure the safety of people in or near your building. Failure to comply with the Building Act in terms of structural integrity of your building can result in you being held liable in the occurrence of a serious harm incident. If, however, you do comply and serious harm occurred as a result of a failure in your building’s structural integrity (its structural resilience to an earthquake), no action will be taken by WorkSafe New Zealand.

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