Earthquake prone buildings – Cabinet Paper and Cabinet Minutes

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment have released the Cabinet Paper and associated Cabinet Minute discussing and agreeing to the provisions for legislation requiring Territorial Authorities to assess buildings and for the buildings to be strengthened or demolished. Links to the documents are on their website here (part way down the page). They can be downloaded directly by clicking on the names below:

.

Earthquake-prone buildings

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has published the media release for the policy decision on managing earthquake-prone buildings (here).

Part of the release states:

The new system is designed to strike a better balance between protecting people from harm in an earthquake and managing the costs of strengthening or removing earthquake prone buildings.

When the performance of the MBIE (DBH as it then was) on acceptable floor levels in damaged houses is taken into account (see blog entry here), there is room for concern that this piece of policy is potentially just as dubious. Once again the balance seems to have moved further in favour of protecting business interests by transferring the risks onto people. 

A primary part of the policy is to extend the amount of time available in which to strengthen a building identified as being earthquake-prone.  The policy proposes that Councils have five years from the date of the new legislation in which to identify all earthquake-prone buildings in their territory (2018 or 2019). There will then be a further fifteen years in which earthquake-prone buildings must be strengthened or demolished (2033 or 2034).

A negative aspect of this timeframe will be the situation of buildings that are not economic to strengthen being kept in use, with minimal maintenance, until the last possible moment to maximise the return on the owner’s investment. What sort of oversight will there be to ensure these buildings don’t deteriorate further?

The one redeeming feature is the intention for a publicly accessible register of earthquake-prone buildings to be set up by MBIE.

The Government intends introducing legislation into Parliament later this year. It will be worth scrutinising it to ensure that there will be full and prompt disclosure of all buildings considered to be earthquake prone, along with information about any exemptions or extensions applicable to each building.

The Minister’s media release is here and a full report on the consultation process here.

.

Southern Response – asbestos handling information

Southern Response have added the following information to their website (here), describing how properties with asbestos will be treated.

Before your repair work begins the main repair contractor will assess whether they need to test for the presence of asbestos in building materials in your home – based on the age, construction materials used and the nature and location of earthquake damage.  If asbestos testing is needed, the main contractor will arrange for inspection of the earthquake damaged areas; This will be done at our cost.

If asbestos is identified in earthquake damaged materials, a competent contractor will be engaged to remove that type of asbestos product that is earthquake damaged.

The main contractor is fully responsible for asbestos identification, testing, removal and disposal as per the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment rules and Health and Safety Act.

We will advise you if asbestos is identified in earthquake damaged areas of your home and can give you a copy of the test results if you request them. 

Further information on asbestos can be found on the Ministry of Health website: https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/all-about-asbestos

Supporting workers in the rebuild.

Paul Watson has an opinion piece in today’s Press raising the importance  of rebuild workers getting “… decent jobs with good wages, a safe work environment and a voice in how the city and the rebuild progress.” The article is here. .

New winter resilience programme

Minister Brownlee has announced the coming together of companies and agencies to help those whose damaged homes don’t fare well this winter.

In a first step, major construction companies have volunteered staff to respond to any emergency works created by this week’s expected snowstorm, working alongside Civil Defence and the Christchurch City Council. Mr Brownlee says the impact of a third winter in an earthquake-damaged home cannot be underestimated, especially where warmth and sanitation issues are concerned. “While almost 50,000 urgent repairs have been carried out to ensure homes are weathertight, and 19,000 winter heat devices have been installed, we accept that cold weather could cause problems. “I want to be sure we get the message across to everyone that there is a lot of help available in a variety of forms.” As per normal procedure in the case of an emergency, Civil Defence through the Christchurch City Council will lead the response, while other agencies will form an additional layer of support.

The full announcement (here) is reproduced below.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says a group of companies and agencies involved in the recovery have combined to share knowledge and create a winter resilience campaign, ensuring all parties know what each is doing and promising to refer those who need help on to their partners as required. In a first step, major construction companies have volunteered staff to respond to any emergency works created by this week’s expected snowstorm, working alongside Civil Defence and the Christchurch City Council. Mr Brownlee says the impact of a third winter in an earthquake-damaged home cannot be underestimated, especially where warmth and sanitation issues are concerned. “While almost 50,000 urgent repairs have been carried out to ensure homes are weathertight, and 19,000 winter heat devices have been installed, we accept that cold weather could cause problems. “I want to be sure we get the message across to everyone that there is a lot of help available in a variety of forms.” As per normal procedure in the case of an emergency, Civil Defence through the Christchurch City Council will lead the response, while other agencies will form an additional layer of support. That is where the intensive winter resilience campaign comes to the fore, with ongoing support from EQC, insurers, building companies, the Red Cross, the Student Volunteer Army, Community Energy Action, the Canterbury Earthquakes Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS), the Families Commission, Canterbury District Health Board and the Christchurch City Council all essentially acting as one. “Each stand-alone agency has its own winter programme with different roles, but has convened and agreed to work in a co-ordinated way to ensure the right assistance is rapidly provided to everyone in need over the coldest months,” Mr Brownlee says. “In practice it means anyone in need who calls any of the existing helplines and 0800 agency numbers will be directed to the right agency to help – either in the predicted storm or over the following months of winter.” CERA Deputy Chief Executive, Social and Cultural Recovery, Michelle Mitchell says a huge variety of initiatives are in place and this major push would help make sure people know what they are. “We have the Insurance Council’s commitment to ensure mould is removed from the over-cap homes still being lived in, while the collaborative Healthy Homes project offers a reduced rate on insulation costs for people with chronic health needs. “CETAS has helped hundreds of families find housing and with rental subsidies so far and is standing by to support anyone in need. “The Red Cross is distributing 7500 Winter Warmer Packs of clothing from Kathmandu and the Warehouse, as well as practical information about physical and psychological wellness. “In addition to that, 1000 packs included DIY home insulation material and door draught rolls provided by Community Energy Action (CEA). “And the Canterbury Health System is running its own insulation and heating assistance programme which will benefit around 3000 people who were hospitalised twice or more last winter,” Ms Mitchell says. Mr Brownlee says he has asked CERA to produce a special assistance edition of the monthly Greater Christchurch Recovery Update supplement, so the contact details and information about what help is available is again captured in one place. “The main aim of this winter resilience campaign is to make sure that whichever door people knock on, someone will point them in the right direction.  “With all relevant agencies involved in recovery linked in to this winter campaign, I’m confident anyone who calls any existing number will be directed to the right place.”