22 Feb 2013

Building owners warn quake plans too tight

10:11 am on 22 February 2013

Otago building owners have told the Government proposed deadlines for earthquake strengthening are too short.

About 75 people attended a public meeting in Dunedin on Thursday fronted by Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson to discuss proposals to tighten the quake-prone building system.

Maurice Williamson says there is no option but to tighten the rules.

Maurice Williamson says there is no option but to tighten the rules. Photo: RNZ

It is proposed that most non-residential buildings would have to checked for their quake risk in five years, and demolished if not upgraded in a further 10 years.

Building owners from the region mostly agreed change is necessary following the Canterbury earthquakes.

But some warned 15 years was not long enough and would threaten many buildings, especially heritage ones, with demolition.

Mr Williamson said he has no option but to tighten the rules on earthquake-prone buildings.

He told the meeting the Government has a very open mind, and the timeframes suggested may well be too short, but the Canterbury earthquakes had made some changes inevitable.

The minister said minimum safety standards for building owners are no different to those set for the trucking and aviation industries.

The meeting was the fifth of seven around the country.