Farm buildings escape quake assessment

Last updated 05:00 06/07/2014

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Farm buildings will not be assessed for earthquake risk, saving farmers $3000 each, Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced.

Guy said the decision would mean that assessments of 250,000 farm buildings, at a cost of $170 million, would be avoided.

"This decision will be a huge relief to farmers. The assessments were going to cost $3000 per farmer," Guy said.

The ministers said the buildings had a low occupancy rate, and there was no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapse in an earthquake.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes.

"It makes no sense to require earthquake assessments of hay sheds, shearing sheds, implement sheds and milk sheds when the farmhouses where people spend more time are exempted," Smith said.

"We need to take a pragmatic approach and focus our efforts to improve the earthquake safety of buildings on those that pose the greatest risk to public safety.

"This is not the only area where I am concerned that the Bill casts its net too wide. I have officials working on other areas of low-risk buildings that should be exempted.

"This work requires a careful balancing of the need to improve public safety while at the same time being careful not to impose excessive cost."

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- The Timaru Herald

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