Dangerous, earthquake prone and insanitary buildings


Every territorial authority is required to develop a Policy for Dangerous, Earthquake-Prone and Insanitary Buildings.

  • The Council has an existing approach for Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings; the Policy proposes to formalise the current approach.
  • There is currently no developed approach for Earthquake-Prone Buildings; it will be something completely new.
  • This brochure summarises the Council’s proposed Policy and describes how you can made a submission.

Aim of the Policy

The aim of the Policy is to reduce health and safety risks, including earthquake risk, over time in a way that is acceptable socially and economically to the district’s residents.

Community Outcomes

There are three Community Outcomes that are relevant to the development of this Policy. These are:

Our residents feel safe in their homes and in their communities.

The need for economic development is balanced with environmental sustainability.

We have clean, well-maintained, functional facilities that meet our changing needs in the areas of sport, recreation, art, culture and heritage.

Policy Approach

For Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings, the Council proposes to fomalise the current approach, which is:

  • To investigate all complaints from individuals (or notifications from agencies such as the Fire Service) on a case-by-case basis.
  • To undertake an inspection to determine whether action is required under the Building Act or the Health Act.
  • Where action is required, to advise the building owner to improve (or vacate) the building.
  • Discuss options for improving the building with the owner, with a view to obtaining a mutually acceptable approach for dealing with the health or safety issue.

For Earthquake-Prone Buildings, the Council proposes a Five Step Approach:

  1. The Council would undertake a review of files to identify earthquake-prone buildings.
  2. Buildings would be given a Structural Performance Score.
  3. Once scored, buildings would be classified depending on their level of public use and their heritage value.
  4. The Council would advise building owners of the outcome.
  5. The requirement to upgrade earthquake strengthening of a building would be triggered by the building consent process.

Building Consent Trigger

When the Council receives an application for building consent to alter a building or change its use, a level of strengthening would be required if the building is earthquake-prone. Here are some examples of how buildings would be affected:

  • Residential Buildings would not be subject to the policy unless they have two storeys and three or more household units.
  • Commercial Buildings that do not meet 33% of the current Building Code would need to be strengthened to 33% of the Code.
  • Heritage Buildings and Public Buildings that do not meet 67% of the current Building Code would need to be strengthened to 67% of the Code.

The threshold of 33% of the Building Code is based on a minimum recommended by the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering.

Other Options

Before deciding which policy to consult on, the Council gave careful consideration to several other options:

  • A Policy triggered by Timeframes. This policy would require building owners to strengthen their buildings within a certain timeframe, regardless of whether a building project was planned or not.
  • A Policy triggered by Geography. This policy would target buildings around Waverley and Oaonui, which are known fault zones.
  • A Policy triggered by the Age of Buildings. This policy would target buildings of a certain age, for example pre-1930s buildings.
  • A non-prescriptive Policy of Liaison. This policy would involve the Council liaising with building owners and encouraging them to strengthen their buildings.