26 Aug 2013

Building owners frustrated by seismic assessment variations

11:20 am on 26 August 2013

The Institution of Professional Engineers, IPENZ, says it is aware of concerns about inconsistencies in the seismic assessment of buildings.

Building owners in Hawke's Bay have questioned why there are such large variations in engineers' assessments of how quake-proof their buildings are.

IPENZ Hawke's Bay chairperson Guy Lethbridge says there are different ways of assessing a building's propensity to earthquake damage and what you get depends on what you pay for.

He says options range from a cheaper initial evaluation to a more expensive detailed engineering assessment.

Mr Lethbridge says the detailed assessment is the one building owners should pay attention to.

Canterbury University associate professor Stefano Pampanin says rating differences can also occur depending on whether an engineer just assesses structural weaknesses or also includes solutions to address those weaknesses.

He says an analogy is going to the doctor, who will not give a number to score your health, but will look at the overall symptoms and remedies based on the depth of diagnosis.

The Napier Art Deco Trust says it is working with AUT in Auckland to create a model to help building owners and engineers get consistent earthquake ratings for older buildings, and develop innovative and cheaper options for earthquake strengthening.