Options for earthquake-prone buildings

If your building has been identified as earthquake-prone, or you expect it to be, you’ll need to consider your options carefully.

The earlier you investigate your options, the more time you’ll have to meet legal requirements.

You could consider:

  • seismically strengthening your building
  • demolishing all or part of your building – this may not be an option for heritage buildings
  • selling your building
  • doing nothing.

There may be restrictions on what you can and can’t do to your building. You may need to contact your council and Heritage New Zealand to discuss building requirements and heritage obligations. 

Strengthening your building

Strengthening your building is likely to be a complex process, but it has several benefits. You will be ensuring the safety of your building tenants, protecting your investment and saving a piece of New Zealand heritage for future generations to enjoy.

If you are undertaking a major project, you may need to consider a staged approach and address any critical structural weaknesses first. An engineer can advise you.

Heritage EQUIP offers information and funding for strengthening projects.

Estimate the financial feasibility of your project

Seek help from heritage advisors

Check your council’s requirements

Scope seismic upgrade solutions and costs

Demolishing your building

If you plan to demolish all or part of your building, you’ll need to contact your council to discuss your plans. The Resource Management Act 1991 outlines regulations for work on heritage buildings. Any demolition is likely to require resource consent.

List of councils – Local Government New Zealand website

Selling your building

You may decide to sell your building without completing any strengthening work. Potential purchasers are likely to ask for engineering documentation and advice. The more information you can provide about your building, the easier it will be for potential purchasers to make a decision.

Doing nothing

If you decide not to do anything you may be putting the safety of building occupants and passers-by at risk. You may also have difficulty:

  • insuring your building
  • raising finance against your building
  • attracting and retaining tenants
  • attracting buyers.

If you don’t strengthen your building within the timeframes outlined by your council, your council will be able to take action.