Strengthening quake-prone buildings

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2014

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As fears surface in Taranaki towns about earthquake-prone buildings, engineers and builders are already working to strengthen some of the town's assets.

The Taranaki Daily News revealed last week an extra 350 to 450 buildings in New Plymouth's CBD, as well as nearly all buildings in Stratford and countless in South Taranaki will have to be assessed by councils if stringent new rules are passed into law.

However one New Plymouth law firm is already resting easy in its newly strengthened offices.

Quin Law on Robe St closed for four weeks over Christmas so their building could undergo seismic strengthening.

The purpose of the work, completed by Meco Engineering and Pepper Construction, was quickly evident when the team returned to work in the new year, Quin Law principal Catherine Quin said.

"Our first day back in the office and we had an earthquake. So we definitely got to try out the strength of the work," she said.

Building owner Stan Long said when he found out the offices were earthquake-prone he decided to bite the bullet and get the work done as soon as possible.

Now was always the best time to strengthen buildings as it would always cost more in the future, he said.

"Without getting it done the building is not in any condition to be sold or rented. There is going to be a lot more of this work happening in towns around the country," he said.

"I knew it had to happen so I thought it is probably sensible to be proactive and get it done."

Although he did not want to say how much the seismic strengthening had cost, he said he had fears for small towns in Taranaki that had building owners who may not be able to afford the significant costs.

"The whole country has to be assessed and that is a huge financial burden, particularly for some towns. People are saying it could be the death of small towns," he said.

Earlier this week top realtor John Christiansen, of Harcourts, said Taranaki towns would be destroyed under the weight of the incalculable costs of earthquake strengthening, while the board of trustees at New Plymouth Boys' High School are currently debating the future of a historic hostel building.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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