Capital quake deadline 'ridiculously short'

8:50 am on 8 May 2017

Wellington building owners are struggling to pay for earthquake strengthening in time to meet the council's deadline, they say.

Working Men’s Club: 101-117 Cuba St (101 Cuba St – Building A and Building B) **Please check still on unreinforced masonry list before using in this context**

Quake-prone facades on Cuba Street in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Edward O'Driscoll

The Wellington City Council has issued a revised list giving the owners of 108 buildings until March to secure unreinforced masonry parapets and facades.

It is targeting buildings on busy, high-traffic areas.

Owners are being offered up to $10,000 to fix a parapet - a low wall along a roofline - and up to $15,000 for a facade.

The money is part of a $3 million fund which is made up of $1m from the council and $2m from the government.

Body Corporate Chairs' Group president Neil Cooper said the current timeframe was "ridiculously short".

"And the costs associated with it are considerably higher than the council are suggesting," he said.

"To suggest that the $10,000 - $15,000 would cover the costs of the work is far too unrealistic.

"The engineering reports alone are likely to be in excess of $15,000 and in fact we've already had two of the body corporates in our group tell us that their engineering reports are in excess of $15,000, then they still have to do the work," he said.

Mr Cooper said a year to do the work might be possible with a building owned by a single owner, who could decide to do the repairs and raise the finance.

But for most body corporate buildings it just was not going to be possible in the current timeframe.

"That's not because they don't necessarily want to do the work.

"It's a matter of the difficulty associated with body corporates and getting a decision to go ahead ... and then the difficulty some owners will have in raising the finance to do the work," he said.

Mr Cooper said the council needed to extend its timeframe, offer better advice and provide more financial support.

Wellington City Council building resilience manager Steve Cody said he was sympathetic to Mr Cooper's concerns, but the council was sticking to its timeframe and the level of financial support was unlikely to increase.

"I suggest the owners get an understanding of what work needs to be done and then go forwards from there and come and talk to us if they believe they are going to have problems raising finance and the like.

"So that we can get an understanding of where they are at in the process," he said.

Mr Cody said some property owners had complained of being unable to find an engineer, others had no problems.

"I'll actually be talking to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) this week about that. And I understand as well that we might provide a list of engineers that people can call," he said.

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