Landlords urged to exceed code

Last updated 05:00 23/10/2012

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Landlords should not skimp on seismic strengthening of buildings or it could end up costing them more in the long-term, a property consultant says.

Seismic standards are likely to increase over time, meaning strengthening work should anticipate future requirements, he said.

Brian Jones, a director of Hampton Jones, said continued research into New Zealand's seismic structure and the Canterbury earthquakes was expected to change the face of commercial property.

Owners of commercial property have already been hit with higher insurance premiums and the need to strengthen their buildings as new earthquake codes have been introduced to Christchurch. Millions of dollars are being spent by listed property trusts in this process.

But Jones rejected the belief held by some that the cost of construction in Christchurch would skyrocket in a bid to build more earthquake-resistant buildings.

Detailed knowledge and data collected on the stability of land in Christchurch meant the costs of building would be on a par with the rest of the country, Jones said. Also, the rebuild of the commercial sector was likely to occur gradually, meaning there were not as many inflationary pressures on material and labour costs, he added.

Hampton Jones, a building, surveying and design practice, had recently employed a new director, Graham Matthews, who had previously worked with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Matthews had experience on the ground in Christchurch during the earthquakes.

Jones said ongoing research would bring further changes to seismic standards, which would impact building owners and occupiers.

But the actual cost of strengthening a building was not always as significant as people believed, particularly when compared with the loss of income incurred through untenanted space, he said.

"Landlords . . . may wish to go beyond meeting current minimum strengthening standards as I believe the building standards will be increased," Jones said.

New seismic research could be costly to landlords but had the potential to be of huge economic benefit to the country as Kiwis became world experts in this field.

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