Securing unreinforced masonry building parapets and facades

From February 2017 owners of certain unreinforced masonry buildings are required to secure street-facing parapets and facades in response to the 2016 Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes.

GNS Science forecasts

After the 2016 Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes, GNS Science advised there was an increased risk of further earthquakes occurring in the next 12 months in areas that included Wellington City, Lower Hutt City, Marlborough and Hurunui Districts.

In November 2017, GNS Science's updated forecasting showed the heightened risk period was expected to extend for at least another 6 months.

Amendment to the Building Act 2004

In February 2017 the Government made an Order in Council to amend 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 6 months, have a defence against prosecution.

What building owners need to do

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.

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund

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.

More information

The list of affected streets can be found in this Questions and Answers document:

Questions and answers about Unreinforced Masonry Buildings March 2018 [PDF, 235 KB]

The funding application form, technical guidance and further information on securing URM building parapets and facades can be found on our Building Performance website(external link).