A survey conducted after the Canterbury earthquakes has revealed that between 10,000-25,000 or between 8% and 13% of all New Zealand’s non-residential buildings do not meet earthquake standards, as reported by One News.
These statistics are a cause for concern. This will prove to be one of the most costly and serious issues facing New Zealand today.
Residential buildings are facing a similar problem as well.
A submission made by the Christchurch City Council to the Local Government and Environment Committee recently may help to inform us on this issue:
In relation to an appropriate strengthening level, the Royal Commission can note that the council’s earthquake-prone buildings policy sets a target for owners of earthquake-prone buildings to strengthen their buildings to 67%.
Council works at persuading owners to achieve this level. However, it has encountered significant resistance from insurers for any strengthening of earthquake damaged buildings, other than that required to lift a building above 33%.
Most building owners do not have sufficient funds themselves to pay to get the building strengthened to a higher level. In the future however, insurance might not even cover strengthening of buildings to any level.
It should be noted that it is not just Christchurch feeling the pinch but insurance premiums and the cost of strengthening upgrades are also biting in other parts of the country.
Across the country, homeowners receiving their latest insurance bills are facing on average increases of up to 30 per cent.
In Wellington it has been reported that building replacement insurance on some heritage buildings has gone from $14,000 a year in 2009 to $52,000 in 2011. And it’s predicted to hit $132,000 this year. Worse still, owners have been told to expect a 50% increase next year, taking insurance premiums to levels which are simply unaffordable.
Where is the leadership from the National-ACT Government on this issue? This is something which may haunt New Zealand for generations to come and we need Maurice Williamson to act rather than sit back and display his blasé attitude.