Unreinforced masonry buildings -  only 1 year to fix!

Unreinforced masonry buildings - only 1 year to fix!

, Margaret Browne

Did you know that building owners in Wellington, Marlborough and Hurunui have just one year to secure all street-facing unreinforced masonry (URM) parapets and facades?
Given the current squeeze on resources, a 12 month turn-around is a big ask – the wait time at some scaffolding companies is up to 9 months right now …

Why is this happening?

Unreinforced masonry parapets and facades are a significant risk to life safety (39 people were killed by falling masonry during the Christchurch earthquake.) The Kaikoura earthquake means that the Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui regions are at an increased risk of another big earthquake, so the decision has been made to get this sorted sooner rather than too late.

NOTE: A new Building Act Amendment is about to come in which would have required this work be done within about 7-17 years across the whole country anyway.

https://www.building.govt.nz/building-code-compliance/b-stability/b1-structure/securing-parapets-facades-unreinforced-masonry-buildings/ Source

What does this mean for you?

Lower Hutt Council have sent letters out (Section 124 Notices) to all the affected properties that they are aware of. According to Wellington Council, building owners in Wellington should have received letters in early April.

There is up to $15,000 government funding available for each building to carry out the work, but we would recommend applying for this as soon as possible, because this is a finite fund.

The good news is that work is only required on street frontages. If strengthening work has already taken place, but there are no council records, then all that may be required is a follow up Engineer’s check. All work needs to be signed off by a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng), which means that it cannot be designed or approved by an LBP builder.

What should you do?

If you’ve received one of these notices, or you’re worried that your building might be affected and you might not get the required work done in time; the first step is to speak to a Chartered Professional Engineer to see what the options are.

Hampton Jones’ Structural Engineers have teamed up with a rope access company to be able to offer innovative solutions that avoid the need to wait months for scaffolding and minimises disruption to public areas and tenants.

Contact Jennifer Critchley, Structural Engineering Group Manager at Hampton Jones to see if we can help.

Jennifer Critchley

Jennifer Critchley BEng (Hons), MSc DIC, CPEng, IntPE, MIPENZ

Group Manager – Structural Engineering

021 715 135 | 04 499 3851 jennifer.critchley@hamptonjones.com

Links for more information:

URM Hubs

Wellington City Councils URM hubs will be run to allow building owners to meet with a technical officer and a case manager to discuss any queries as well as the next steps to be taken within the programme. These hubs will be held on:

  • Wednesday 3 and 10 May, from 9.30am-12.30pm, at Earthquake Recovery Information Centre
  • Thursday 4 and 11 May, from 9.30am-12.30pm, at Kia Ora Newtown

Securing of Masonry Parapets and Facades

http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/building-construction/safety-quality/urm http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/building-construction/safety-quality/urm/questions-answers

Guidance on the new Building Act Amendment for assessment and treatment of earthquake prone buildings.