Call for urgent changes to building standards

1:55 pm on 13 October 2011

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission is recommending new guidelines for buildings should be introduced immediately to help prevent them failing in any further earthquakes.

The recommendation is contained in an interim report which the commission has delivered to the Government.

The commission's recommendations are based on reports from structural engineers who have pinpointed shortcomings in design codes and construction practice.

Its report calls for the Government to use special powers it has under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act to introduce new guidelines for the construction of buildings in Christchurch following the devastating quake in February.

It says the matter is urgent - not only because of the risk to life and limb from unsafe buildings, but also the expense if buildings constructed now need extra work later to bring them up to the new standards.

The Labour Party's spokesperson for earthquake recovery, Clayton Cosgrove, says given the report's call for urgency and the use of the special powers, the Government needs to provide a timeline for when the changes will be introduced.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says officials are looking at many of the report's recommendations and will draw up the necessary changes as soon as possible.

However, Mr Williamson says he will not give a timeframe for this. He says the fact Parliament has now finished sitting will not prevent changes to the Building Act being introduced.