Masonry targeted

Nick Smith has announced:

A new category of priority buildings, covering parts of unreinforced masonry like parapets and facades, is to be included in the Building Act requirements for upgrading -prone buildings following strong submissions to select committee including from Canterbury survivor and Lincoln University lecturer Ann Brower, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today. 

“We need to heed every possible lesson from the 22 February earthquake in Christchurch in rewriting the building laws to minimise future fatalities. Falling parts of unreinforced masonry like parapets and facades killed 35 people that tragic day, including every passenger on the Red Bus except Ann Brower.

God, how awful.

The significant change is adding a new category of priority buildings to cover those parts of an unreinforced masonry building like a parapet or veranda which could fall into a public road, footpath or other thoroughfare that has been identified by a council as having sufficient vehicle or pedestrian traffic to warrant prioritisation. It is estimated that some 2000 buildings nationwide will fall into this new category.

The effect of being a priority building is that the times for assessment and upgrade requirements are halved. In a high risk area, this means the assessments will need to be completed in two and a half years, instead of five, and upgraded within seven and a half years rather than 15. In a medium risk area, the assessments would need to occur in five years instead of 10, and the repairs within 12 and a half years, rather than 25. 

This seems a sensible priority.

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