19 Nov 2013

Houses shaken to foundations in quake test

6:11 am on 19 November 2013

Earthquake simulation pressure tests have been conducted on a block of state houses to help with future strengthening work on earthquake-prone buildings.

The 1950s four-unit building had been condemned and was on a street in Upper Hutt where many now vacant Housing New Zealand buildings are boarded up awaiting demolition.

Testing was carried out on this building.

Testing was carried out on this building. Photo: RNZ

Housing Minister Nick Smith said on Monday it is the first time destructive earthquake testing has been carried out on a two-storey building in New Zealand.

Housing New Zealand plans to invest more than $44 million over the next three years to strengthen and refurbish about 150 of its buildings throughout the country.

Its board chair, Allan Freeth, says the tests will give a much more accurate view of the strength of the buildings.

"What we've learned from Christchurch is that while a lot of the numbers that come up in ratings - while they've been a good indication of the strength of buildings - you don't really know until you've really tested it."

The best data is gathered by simulating a real quake and the experiment will not only inform a lot of the work done by engineers, but will be published as a scientific paper.