Securing unreinforced masonry building parapets and facades

On 28 February 2017 the government introduced a new requirement for owners of certain unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings to secure street-facing parapets and facades, in response to the 2016 Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes.

Following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes in November 2016, GNS Science has advised there is an increased risk of further earthquakes occurring in the next 12 months in areas that include Wellington City, Lower Hutt City, Marlborough and Hurunui Districts.

The primary focus is public safety. On busy thoroughfares, on routes that have high pedestrian and vehicular traffic, street-facing URM parapets and facades present significant risks to life safety due to their vulnerability in an earthquake event. The risk increases significantly on busy routes that have high concentrations of street-facing URMs.

In recognition of the public and private benefits from securing unreinforced masonry parapets and facades, the government and affected councils have established the Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund (approximately $4.5 million) to support building owners in areas of increased risk of further earthquakes in the next 12 months to meet the requirements.

An Order in Council has been made under the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016, to modify the Building Act 2004 and the Resource Management Act 1991 in relation to certain buildings with URM parapets and facades.

The four councils of Wellington City, Hutt City, and the Marlborough and Hurunui Districts will issue notices for these buildings, requiring owners to ensure street-facing URM parapets and facades are secured within a specified timeframe. Building owners will then have 12 months to complete the work.
Once building owners have completed their securing work, and their council has signed off on it, they can apply to MBIE for funding to recover some of the costs incurred.

The list of affected streets can be found in the Questions and Answers below.

The funding application form, technical guidance and further information on securing URM building parapets and facades can be found on the Building Performance website