Earthquake-Prone Buildings

The information on this page is intended to let you know about the changes in legislation relating to earthquake-prone buildings. As the Gore District Council moves forward with its processes this section will be updated to reflect actions taken and next steps.

What Earthquake-prone means
What structures are covered by the Act
What’s a priority building
What happens when a building is assessed as earthquake-prone
Who does what

The approach for identifying and managing potentially earthquake-prone buildings is governed by the provisions of the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016.

The system, which came into effect on 1 July 2017, is consistent across the country and focuses on the most vulnerable buildings in terms of people's safety. It categorises New Zealand into three seismic risk areas and sets time frames for identifying and taking action to strengthen or remove earthquake-prone buildings.

The Council’s footprint is entirely located within the medium seismic risk area. This means we must identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings (EPBs) within 10 years, and building owners must strengthen or demolish earthquake-prone buildings within 25 years.

More information can be found on the MBIE Building Performance Managing earthquake prone buildings page

What Earthquake-prone means

A building, or part of a building, is earthquake prone if it will have its ultimate capacity exceeded in a moderate earthquake, and if it were to collapse, would do so in a way that is likely to cause injury or death to persons in or near the building or on any other property, or damage to any other property.

The Council will determine if a building or part of a building is earthquake prone using the EPB methodology, a document setting out how territorial authorities identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings, how engineers undertake engineering assessments, and how territorial authorities determine whether a building or part is earthquake prone, and if it is, its earthquake rating.

More information can be found on:

MBIE's Building Performance Managing earthquake-prone buildings page - Determining if a building is earthquake prone

MBIE's Building Performance Managing earthquake-prone buildings page - What earthquake prone means

What structures are covered by the Act

The Act applies to commercial buildings and some residential buildings.

Residential buildings are only covered under the Act if they:

  • comprise two or more storeys and three or more household units, or
  • are used as hostels, boarding houses or other types of specialised accommodation.

The Act does not apply to:

  • farm buildings
  • stand-alone retaining walls
  • fences
  • statues and other monuments that cannot be entered
  • wharves
  • bridges
  • tunnels
  • storage tanks

What is a priority building

Priority buildings are those that:

  • potentially pose a high risk to life safety due to their location or use, or 
  • are considered to be critical to support response and recovery operations in an emergency.

We must consult with the public when a building is considered a priority due to its higher risk to safety (ie unreinforced masonry), and its location, such as in areas where there is a high level of pedestrian traffic. Identification of these buildings is expected to be started by the end of 2018.

The process of identifying priority buildings that could support (ie welfare centres) or impede (ie buildings which could collapse onto a strategic route) an emergency response in an earthquake, involves consultation and discussions with the emergency services and civil defence agencies. This stage is nearing completion.

What happens when a building is assessed as earthquake-prone

If your building is rated as earthquake-prone you will:

  • be issued with a statutory Earthquake-Prone Building (EPB) notice, which you must display in a prominent place in your building;
  • have the details of your building added to a new national register of earthquake-prone buildings;
  • have 12 1/2 years for a priority building and 25 years for other buildings from the date of the EPB notice to strengthen your building so that it is no longer earthquake-prone, or if you carry out a substantial alteration or change of use, have to strengthen your building at the same time.

Earthquake-prone buildings with multiple unit titles

When a building with multiple unit titles is deemed earthquake-prone, the owner of each title will be issued with a separate earthquake-prone building notice.

Extension to complete strengthening for heritage buildings

You can apply for a 10-year extension to complete strengthening works for an earthquake-prone building that is:

  •  a Category 1 listed building, or
  •  on the National Historic Landmarks list.

Exemption from strengthening for isolated buildings

You can apply for an exemption from strengthening works for an earthquake-prone building that is:

  • used infrequently,
  • poses a low risk of injury to people and damage to other property in the event of an earthquake.


Who does what

Territorial authorities, engineers and buildings owners have key responsibilities for managing earthquake-prone buildings (EPBs). This is outlined in the diagram below.




earthquake prone buildings diagram web final

Gore District Council 29 Bowler Avenue Gore P: 03 209 0330 E: