Masonry fix timeline extended

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Commercial building owners are being given six more months to secure unreinforced masonry – as long as they have undertaken action to carry out remedial work.

Following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, the then government announced it would be requiring urgent upgrades of parapets and facades on around 200 high risk unreinforced masonry buildings.

Initially, a March 2018 deadline for the completion of work on such buildings, which are mainly in Wellington and Lower Hutt, was set.

Now Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa has announced that timeline has been extended due to practical concerns, including industry capacity constraints.

However, Salesa says the new deadline will only apply to building owners who have made genuine efforts to get the work done but haven’t been able to complete it in the time given.

To qualify, building owners must show they have taken “reasonable steps” at remedial work.

These include design work being complete, or in progress and a demonstrable programme of work which indicates when a builder will be contracted and when the work is expected to be completed.

But where building owners have done nothing, Salesa says she expects councils to exercise their powers to manage public safety risks.

Councils have the power to limit access to the building, and/or take enforcement action and the penalty for non-compliance is a fine of up to $200,000.

Salesa says it is crucial for building owners to make their buildings safe and unreinforced parapets and facades pose significant risk to life and safety of the public.

“Thirty-nine people were killed by falling unreinforced masonry in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and we know the risks can be reduced by securing parapets and facades to the main building structure.

“We have struck a balance between the need to protect public safety and the need to recognise the practical constraints that have delayed progress for some building owners.”

The government also recently increased the funding cap for masonry securing work on buildings that are three storeys or taller from $25,000 to $65,000.

Read more:

Changes to unsecured masonry repair initiative 

Greater flexibility for earthquake fund 

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