22 Dec 2017

Govt must boost masonry repair fund - building owners

7:45 am on 22 December 2017

The government will need to spend more if it really wants to help people fix dangerous masonry, a Wellington building owner says.

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 http://wellington.govt.nz/about-wellington/emergency-management/november-2016-earthquake-information/unreinforced-masonry-buildings**

Photo: RNZ / Edward O'Driscoll

Yesterday, Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa said she was hoping to extend the March 2018 deadline some building owners face to fix the most dangerous facades and parapets in the country.

Owners would also be able to apply for up to $25,000 to secure either a single parapet or facade, up from $10,000 for a parapet, and $15,000 for a facade.

Ms Salesa said they could apply for funding to remove unreinforced masonry on non-heritage buildings, and that the funding cap to secure large and complex masonry on dangerous buildings would be raised.

But acting Wellington branch chair of the body corporate chairs' group, Neil Cooper, said in making those promises, the government had not mentioned boosting the $4.5 million set aside to fund the entire project.

"I wouldn't have thought it was anywhere near what's needed," he said.

"The number of buildings they're talking about, and potentially all of them have got at least one parapet or facade that needs fixing, then $4.5 million isn't going to go to far."

The original timeframes to fix masonry were totally unrealistic, Mr Cooper said.

Some building owners would appreciate the recognition of the costs involved, however there was no funding relief for people who were unable to pay at all, he said.

"I'm thinking of many of the inner-city residents who've gone into these apartments, largely as a retirement home, and they have very limited income.

"They're suddenly being asked to pay out large sums for the strengthening work [and] they just don't have the ability to do it."

The bulk of the buildings needing work are in Wellington and Lower Hutt, but some are in Blenheim and Hurunui.

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