Build+ Newsletter

We regularly issue our Tauranga Toolbox newsletter. Here, we expand on some of the topics covered in our January 2018 edition.

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Earthquake-prone buildings continued

It introduces a new category of ‘priority’ buildings in high and medium seismic risk areas that are considered higher risk because of their construction, type, use or location. Priority buildings must be identified and strengthened or removed in half the time available for other buildings in the same seismic risk area.

The system applies to non-residential buildings and larger residential buildings that are two storeys or more, have three or more household units or are used as a hostel, boarding house or other form of specialised accommodation.

Under the new system, territorial authorities (councils) are responsible for identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings and notifying building owners, determining if a building is earthquake prone and if so assigning a rating (based on an engineering assessment) and issuing EPB notices to building owners.

Territorial authorities will also have to publish information on buildings they have determined to be earthquake-prone in a national online register hosted by MBIE. The register is a public document.

MBIE will be working with territorial authorities and building professionals over the coming months to help them with the transition to the new system and providing information for building owners.

Managing earthquake-prone buildings has an overview of the new system.

Earthquake-prone building resources has links to the relevant Acts, regulations, engineering assessment guidelines and the EPB methodology. The methodology and The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings: Technical Guidelines for Engineering Assessments are key tools to help territorial authorities and engineers identify, assess and make decisions on potentially earthquake-prone buildings.

The Register of earthquake-prone buildings (EPB Register) has a public portal as well as a logon for territorial authorities entering data.

  • a building’s importance, e.g. whether it has a post-disaster function or has a high occupancy
  • its age and condition relative to the code to which it was built or previously strengthened

Buying or selling an earthquake-prone building

The new owner becomes responsible for the seismic strengthening. It’s recommended that purchasers carry out independent investigations prior to purchasing a property that is likely to be earthquake-prone.

If you need to find out whether a building is earthquake-prone you can approach an engineer to undertake an independent Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA) at your own cost. This will give you a guide as to the strength of the building. We maintain the right to review these findings.

Alterations to an earthquake-prone buildings

If we receive a building consent application for upgrading or alteration of a building which is confirmed as being earthquake-prone, the building will need to be strengthened to comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable with the current Building Code.

If you are changing the use of the building, we must be satisfied with the structural and seismic performance of a building when considering the intended change of use. If we are not satisfied the building will need to be strengthened to comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable with the current Building Code.

Section 133AT on alterations to earthquake prone buildings comes into effect 13 May 2018.

Disagreeing with earthquake-prone classification

If you disagree with our classification of your building as earthquake-prone, you can provide an engineer’s report in challenge of that decision. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will then make a final, binding determination on whether your building is earthquake-prone. 

The policy affects all types of commercial or public buildings, and residential properties that have two or more stories and contain three or more household units. Buildings that are mainly used for residential purposes are not affected by the policy. Buildings built after 1976 are unlikely to be earthquake prone.

Earthquake-prone buildings register

The buildings on the Ministry register have been confirmed as earthquake-prone.  The online register is updated regularly to reflect any strengthening works undertaken by building owners or any buildings newly classified as earthquake-prone.

Earthquake Prone Building Enquiries

Initial Contact: Rob Wickman, 021 277 947, email

Secondary Contact: Andrew McMath, 027 482 1787 (only if Rob is on annual/sick leave)

Tips for a faster building consent application

To help make these complex large and staged consents application more efficient and remove the chance of receiving requests for further information that are not required there are some simple things that can be done and information supplied to help simplify the process for the Building control officer that will ensure a faster process for everyone involved.

  • Supply a covering letter detailing the scope of works the consent covers.
  • Supply an overall plan covering the whole project and cloud the sections that have been covered under a separate consent application, also note the building consent number to each stage, for quick reference for the processor to make sure there is not any parts of the consent application that have a cross over with the previous consent application. For example fire reports and requirements as systems and egress routes may be linked to a previous stage that has been already consented and has implications to the new application.
  • Request a pre lodgement meeting. This will be of great value as when you are about to lodge the first of many applications associated with the large project, the building processing team can plan for the work to be covered by a small team to look after the whole consent process from start to finish, this can mean time saved as the person processing already has some knowledge of the consent application and what has happened previously in other stages, it will also enable the inspection team to allocate a small team of inspectors for the construction stage to help with making inspections more efficient.
  • Noting existing systems that are linked from one application to another such as Fire alarm systems that are to be extended or linked from one stage to another.

Third-party inspections

This form has evolved as a result of some of the common issues that have arisen on previous third party situations such as:

  • We have had no notification: This will generally result in significant delays in the project once we are aware of the work. The on-site work will generally need to stop until a full assessment of the third-party documentation and the completed building work has been carried out.
  • Work starts prior to issue of consent: This can only ever be considered work without a building consent - by default, illegal building work. This could result in a formal Notice to Fix and a full shutdown of the project. Any work carried out prior to consent will likely need to be removed from the Building Consent and re-submitted as an application for a Certificate of Acceptance. You could face substantial fines and jeopardise your LBP licence.
  • There is insufficient evidence of code compliance: Without a clear scope of who is covering what there can be gaps in the third party documentation. This can result in us not being able to issue a Code Compliance Certificate.

There are 41 clauses of the Building Code and we need clear details on who is covering each relevant code clause. Most third parties are only prepared to sign off on one of the 41 Code Clauses.

In summary, there will now be no third-party inspections without a formal application request first submitted by the applicant. The application will then be formalised in the building consent file by one of the BCA managers or senior inspectors. We seethis third party process being used mostly for commercial projects, specifically engineered walls, foundations, including slab, blockwork and some carpentry items. The scope of the application will be confirmed by the senior staff member who processes the application on a case-by-case basis. There will be no verbal third-party agreements. If it is not written down, it didn’t happen.

We are hoping this process will assist in a more streamlined build process, help to reduce waiting times for inspections, and reduce the confusion at CCC stage.

Hot topics continued

Mono-pitch roof bracing

Most cladding systems are BRANZ appraised to be fixed onto compliant NZS3604 framing. Check the framing complies with the manufacturers framing requirements. Check the manufacturers’ specifications and appraisals for this situation. See sketch, end truss framing does not comply as a full height wall for bracing elements and perhaps cladding that are required to connect to both top and bottom plate to full height.

Truss framing sketch

Drainage plans

On Drainage plans ensure you have the invert levels of all TCC SW and sanitary sewer service connections to demonstrate adequate falls are achieved. Check your SW drain sizes comply with Fig 3. E1 AS1. In you calculation use 126mm/hr. as the rainfall intensity (I). Some designers provide the calculation (Modified catchment area = 0.01 Al) at the edge of the drainage plan drawing which is very helpful for the processor. Residential SW design needs to comply for 100mm connection.

From the compliance team:

Hi everyone, just a gentle reminder that when you are exposing more than 100m2 of site area to ensure you have adequate sediment controls in place to prevent sediment and contaminants entering our waterways and stormwater systems. If you have any questions on pollution prevention or how to set up your site please do not hesitate to contact either: Rob Wickman 021277947 email or James Piddock 0276716505 email

Tauranga City Council - City plan

More info on sediment control

From the code compliance certificate team:

When uploading documentation to the consent portal, please only upload one copy of each document. There have been cases where the same documentation has been uploaded two or three times, and it is time consuming to review and accept/ request further documentation each timeManaging this will ensure a faster turnover of CCC applications.

Carpentry LBP memorandums: remember that window installation is restricted work and needs to be covered by the licensed building practitioner.

Last Reviewed: 21/02/2018