Unit owners 'possums in headlights'

The pressure on owners of units in older buildings could be about to be ramped up as a result of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission's's second report, which deals with the failure of buildings as a result of last year's earthquake.

The report was given to the Government last month and is likely to be released to the public shortly.

Alan Turner, the commercial building surveying operations manager with building consultancy Cove Kinloch, believes it will recommend that existing seismic standards should be increased.

"I think you'll find it will set a whole lot of new standards," he said.

If that proves to be the case, it could significantly increase the amount and cost of work that many buildings built before 1976 will require.

Turner said Cove Kinloch is already advising clients with older buildings to strengthen them to 70 per cent of the new building standard, rather than the current legal minimum of 34 per cent, so that they don't have to undertake further upgrading if standards are raised in the future.

Building owners or body corporate committees unsure about their building's seismic standard should employ a suitably qualified engineer or consultant to carry out an Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP), which would help determine whether strengthening work was necessary and/or desirable, so that they knew where they stood.

"Attention to defects can only benefit the property's resale value," Turner said.

"Banks and insurers are taking keen interest in the security and risk offered and are often making a builder's report containing an IEP a condition of their provision of services."

However, most owners and body corporate committees appear paralysed by the issue.

"They are like possums in headlights," Martin Dunn, the director of City Sales said.

Sunday Star Times