What we're doing around earthquake-prone buildings (EPB) including information for building owners and visitors.

Let us know if you have a query about an earthquake-prone building

In July 2017 new rules for dealing with earthquake-prone buildings, including the main changes and building owner roles and responsibilities came into effect. 

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016(external link) changed how earthquake-prone buildings are identified and dealt with under the Building Act 2004(external link).

View the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016(external link)

Main points

  • There is a centralised national register(external link) for all earthquake-prone buildings in New Zealand. 
  • The country is divided into three seismic risk areas – high, medium and low. Christchurch is in the high seismic risk area.
  • A category of priority buildings is identified, which require urgent strengthening. Examples of priority buildings include:
    • hospitals and other buildings used by emergency services
    • buildings likely to be needed in an emergency as an emergency shelter/centre
    • education buildings occupied by at least 20 people (including early childhood centres, schools, private training and tertiary institutes).

What this means for priority buildings in Christchurch

If the Council issues an earthquake-prone building notice on a priority building in accordance with Section 133AP(external link), the owner has to complete remedial work or demolish the building within 7.5 years of the date of the original notice in accordance with Section 133AM(external link).

What this means for other buildings in Christchurch

If the Council issues an earthquake-prone building notice in accordance with Section 133AP(external link), remedial work or demolition of the building must be completed within 15 years of the date of the notice in accordance with Section 133AM(external link).

Further information

Visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's managing earthquake-prone buildings.(external link)

The Council issues a section 133AP/133AR notice to require the owner of an earthquake-prone building to do work; erect a hoarding, fence or warning sign; or to take action to strengthen or demolish the building where a life safety risk is present.

The notice is issued under the Building Act 2004(external link).

Notice received

If you have received a section 133AP/133AR notice from the Council indicating that your building has been assessed as earthquake-prone and you do not agree with this assessment or have completed strengthening work, please send your engineering assessment or completion documentation to DEEs@ccc.govt.nz.

One of our engineers will review the information providedIf our engineer’s review agrees with your information we will remove your building from the Earthquake-prone Building Register.

If our engineer's review disagrees with your information we will contact you to let you know that your building remains on the Earthquake-prone Building Register and the section 133AP/133AR notice will continue to apply.

Displaying the notice

A copy of any section 133AP/133AR notice issued by the Council must be attached, in a prominent position, near to the main entrance to the building and must not be removed or relocated without the Council's approval.

The building owner is committing an offence if they fail to attach the notice in accordance with section 133 AU of the Building Act 2004. If they are convicted of this offence, they are liable for a fine not exceeding $20,000.

The notice informs the public that they are entering and using a building that is earthquake-prone and that it may suffer damage in a moderate earthquake.

The Council will consider enforcement action if a notice is not displayed correctly.

Any earthquake work, either strengthening or demolition, requires the normal consenting process from the Council.

Heritage buildings

The Council can help owners with the seismic strengthening of listed heritage buildings.

The Heritage Team offers free advice(external link), including exploring options for work that balances the owners' needs for continued functional use of the building with appropriate conservation methodologies.

Some strengthening schemes have more impact on heritage fabric and values than others. Usually, there is more than one option available. Sometimes a less intrusive strengthening approach can also be less expensive. The Heritage Team has experience with what has worked well in other heritage buildings.

Strengthening works to listed heritage buildings may require Resource Consent.

Owners of heritage items listed in the District Plan are eligible to apply for funding from the Council’s Heritage Incentive Grants Fund. The Central City Landmark grants support the retention, repair and upgrade of key landmark heritage buildings within the Central City.

Grants may be available to assist with repairs, seismic upgrades and building code compliance upgrades to facilitate ongoing use and appropriate adaptive re-use. Initial contact should be made to the Heritage team on 03 941 8999.

Partnership approvals service

The Council operates a case management service where dedicated case managers assist commercial customers through all Council approval processes, including consenting.

The process starts at the initial concept stage and continues with support right through to completion.

The service is used by customers of all technical capabilities so is beneficial whether you’re engaging industry professionals or are struggling with the requirements.

If you’re interested in saving time and being well prepared, check out the information on Partnership Approvals to see if your project qualifies.

Building owners need to develop their own policies and procedures. All tenants must be aware of these processes and know what to do before an event.

Anyone running a business is required by law to provide a work environment that is without identifiable risks to health and safety.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015(external link) does not set a minimum standard, rather it says that all practical steps are taken to remove or minimise the risk from identified hazards. 

Following a significant seismic event, the Council recommends building owners/operators get any buildings assessed for potential structural damage that may have been caused by the earthquake. 

The Council recommends the following four-step process to ensure your building is safe after an earthquake.

Step one

Initial assessment

  • An initial assessment by owner/operator.  You will need a further assessment if you find issues due to earthquake damage.
  • You should hire a chartered professional engineer if there is any doubt.
  • Don't enter the building if there is any concern about the structural integrity of the building. Seek professional chartered engineering advice and guidance and advise occupants that the building is not to be occupied and move to step two.

Step two

Engineer inspection

  • A chartered engineer inspects key elements of the building structure. This may include invasive techniques. It is recommended that the same engineer/engineering company does this for continuity and familiarity of the building.
  • Buildings should not be occupied until the engineer declares that it is safe to occupy.

Step three

Check building systems

  • Once the engineer has declared the building safe to occupy, organise an inspection of building services and systems by suitably qualified professionals/Independent Qualified Person, for example, fire protection, electrical, water, lifts, heating and air conditioning, or security.
  • If any services/systems are damaged, you may not be able to occupy the building until they are fixed.
  • Any other damaged areas needing repair are also remediated in this stage.
  • A final check is done to ensure that the building is safe to occupy in accordance with building warrant of fitness and building code regulations and policies.

Step four

All clear to occupy

  • Building is cleared and fit to reoccupy.

The earthquake-prone building register(external link) is part of the framework for managing earthquake-prone buildings(external link) that came into force on 1 July 2017.

The register is owned and managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and enables councils and the Ministry to record and update information about buildings or parts of buildings that have been determined to be earthquake-prone. 

The list will change as further buildings are identified and added, or as buildings are strengthened or demolished.

The Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy 2018 replaced the Council’s Earthquake-prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy 2010.

The Council has a responsibility to ensure workers, residents and visitors to the city are protected against the risks unsafe buildings can pose.

The Building Act 2004 (section 131) requires all territorial authorities, including the Council, to adopt and review a policy on dangerous and insanitary buildings within its district. Earthquake-prone buildings are now covered by sections 133AA - 133AY of the Building Act. The Council adopted its Policy in December 2018.

The policy outlines how the Council undertakes its responsibilities under the act that relate to dangerous, affected and insanitary buildings, including how it will work with building owners to prevent buildings from remaining dangerous or insanitary, particularly where a dangerous building is affecting, or potentially affecting, another building.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

 Christchurch City Council

  • Build(external link) Smarter(external link)(external link): Free advice to homeowners on making homes warmer, drier, healthier and cheaper to run. An advisor will come to your home and talk with you about options in a Healthy Home Improvement Plan tailored to your needs and budget. Available to all Christchurch homeowners including landlords. Particularly useful when undertaking earthquake repairs.
  • Community Energy Action(external link): Free or subsidised insulation, efficient heating, recycle curtains and independent energy advice. Assisting homeowners and tenants in the greater Christchurch area including Mid and North Canterbury.
  • Energy Smart(external link): Information and home assessments on insulation solutions for your particular situation and budget.
  • Consents and licences(external link): The Council is responsible for issuing building consents within Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.  A building consent is a formal approval to undertake building work in accordance with authorities (BCA), such as the approved plans and specifications. A building consent establishes that your planned building work complies with the Building Act 2004 and the building code.

Quality concerns

Other useful links

  • Architects(external link): New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) is a statutory entity tasked with registering, monitoring and, if need be, disciplining architects. NZRAB registers architects who have been assessed by their peers as competent to practice independently, maintains an online register, so the public can confirm that an architect is registered, reviews the competence of architects every five years, and investigates complaints and if need be, disciplines architects.
  • Certified Builders Association of New Zealand(external link) and Registered Master Builders(external link): Building contractors may be a member of an industry association, such as the Certified Builders Association of New Zealand (CBANZ) or Registered Master Builders Association (RMBA). These associations may offer additional guarantees and benefits to their members, and their members’ clients. Associations usually hold members accountable to standards of workmanship and business practice.
  • Engineering New Zealand(external link): This professional body represents engineers in New Zealand. Information about employing an engineer, including how to find the right engineer, standard contracts and what to do if dissatisfied with the quality of an engineer's work can be found on the Engineering New Zealand website.
  • Financial advisors(external link): Information about finding a financial adviser can be found from the Financial Markets Authority and Institute of Financial Advisers. How to choose an adviser(external link).
  • Licensed Building Practitioner(external link): A Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) is a tradesperson you can trust to know how to build it right. LBPs have been assessed as being competent to do the type of building they hold a licence for. LBPs have to show certain skills, give proof of practical experience and comply with the building code to get their licence. They also have to gain enough skills maintenance points every two years to keep it. There are a number of licences that can be held by a tradesperson. These each specialise in an area of the building process. These licences are design, carpentry, foundation, roofing, brick and block laying, and external plastering. Registered Architects and Chartered Professional Engineers are automatically treated as design LBPs and you can employ them to do any Restricted Building Work design.
  • Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board(external link): The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB) is the statutory body that regulates these trades. While New Zealand law allows anyone to purchase fittings and appliances it is illegal to do restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work without authorisation. Ask for the card. You should ask to see the current authorisation card of a tradesperson – this is confirmation that the plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying work will be completed by someone qualified or competently supervised. A public register of all certifying and licensed tradespeople is available at www.pgdb.co.nz(external link). You can use the search function to find the contact details of specific individuals or to find the names and contact details of certifying or licensed tradespeople in your area. If you are building or renovating find out all you need to know and obtain the handy consumer guide at the Board’s website.
  • Quantity surveyors(external link): A quantity surveyor is a person responsible for figuring out just what a construction project is going to cost. They aim to keep projects on budget, among many other roles. The New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NZIQS) is the professional organisation in New Zealand for quantity surveyors, estimators, cost managers and cost consultants in the construction industry.