Securing unreinforced masonry building parapets and facades

On 28 February 2017 the government introduced a 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 advised there was 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. In November 2017, updated forecasting by GNS Science showed the heightened risk period was expected to extend for at least another six months.

In February 2017 the government made an Order in Council, amending the Building Act 2004, to address the risk to public safety from unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings in these areas. In March 2018 the Order in Council was amended in response to practical constraints and the continued heightened seismic risk. The original 12-month deadline for securing work remains in place for all building owners, but those who have taken reasonable steps within that period, and complete the work within a further six months, have a defence against prosecution.

Owners of URM buildings, who received a notice from their territorial authority issued under section 124 of the Building Act 2004, as modified by the Order in Council, are required to secure the street-facing parapet and/or facade on their building within 12 months of the date of the notice to reduce the risk of falling masonry.

In recognition of the public and private benefits from securing unreinforced masonry parapets and facades, the government and affected councils 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.

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 MBIE’s Building Performance website.