Strengthening unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings
We are taking a proactive approach to strengthening Wellington’s buildings so that the city is as prepared as it can be for significant earthquakes. Strengthening unreinforced masonry is one of the priorities over the next year as we continue to support Wellington becoming a resilient city.
Following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquake in November 2016, the Government has proposed that owners of certain unreinforced masonry buildings within Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui will be required to secure street-facing parapets and facades. The focus will be on unreinforced masonry buildings on routes that have high foot and vehicle traffic.
The Government has set aside two million dollars for Wellington unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings. The Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester, has agreed to a further one million dollar contribution, subject to full Council approval.
More information will be added over the next few weeks as the building criteria and funding are finalised.
What is an unreinforced masonry building?
Unreinforced masonry is a construction of clay brick, concrete block or natural stone units bound together using lime or cement mortar, without any reinforcing elements such as steel reinforcing bars.
What is a parapet?
A parapet is a low protective wall at the edge of a balcony or roof.
Why is this happening?
Strengthening unreinforced masonry is one of the Council's priorities as it’s prone to failure in earthquakes. This will help improve the city’s resilience.
How many buildings/streets are affected?
We are working through the criteria with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and will contact affected building owners as soon as possible.
How will the buildings be identified and owners contacted?
MBIE is drawing up a set of criteria to help identify buildings. Once we receive these guidelines and an Order in Council (OIC) is passed in parliament, we will be in contact with the building owners directly. This is likely to be around the end of February.
How much money is the Government and Wellington City Council putting in?
The Government has set aside two million dollars for Wellington. The Mayor of Wellington has agreed to a further one million dollar contribution, subject to full Council approval.
When does the reinforcement work have to be completed?
Reinforcement work needs to be completed within 12 months from when the Order in Council (OIC) is passed in the parliament. OIC is likely to be passed by the end of February.