There’s been plenty of focus on earthquake preparedness recently, with the Council stepping up education sessions around the city . There’s also been a rash of yellow and red stickers appear on some of the commercial buildings and apartment blocks around town, informing owners they need to take action to bring the buildings up to standard.
However we noticed a yellow sticker had appeared on a residential house at 59 Pirie Street a few weeks back, which seems a first for the neighbourhood. We understood the Council’s review only took in apartment buildings and the like, so we’re a bit mystified why a house – which seems no different to hundreds of others in Mt Victoria – suddenly got singled out. We’ll enquire with the Council to see if this is the beginning of a trend in the neighbourhood, but if anyone has any information feel free to add a comment.
Update: Here’s the comment from the Wellington City Council:
Further to your enquiry regarding the property at 59 Pirie St. I have checked our records and I can confirm the building is not a single dwelling but actually consists of 3 residential units. The building is single storey at the front and at least two storeys at the rear.
As I briefly outlined in my email yesterday, for the Council to assess residential buildings the building has to have 3 or more units and be at least 2 or more storeys in height. The building at Pirie St meets this criteria. If the building had been a single home we would not have assessed the building.
In respect of your other questions,
What was wrong with the property? The Councils engineers noted certain characteristics of the building which they considered in their professional opinion made the building earthquake prone.
A building can be earthquake prone for a number of reasons ranging from too many larger openings in external walls leading to a lack of bracing through to the building having masonry chimneys. If a person had a query or concern about their own building I would suggest they engage the services of a professional (engineer) to provide some advice.
Will other houses in the neighbourhood be looked at? The Council is checking all buildings across the city that meet the criteria as defined in the Building Act (refer section 122 of the Building Act). This means if there are other houses in the neighbour hood which meet the criteria (contain 3 or more household units and 2 or more storeys) the Council will be assessing those buildings.
What is the criteria for a property to be yellow stickered? A building will only receive an earthquake prone building notice (yellow sticker) if the Council is satisfied the buildings structural performance is less than 331/3% of the New Building Standard (NBS). A new building in the same location would be 100% of NBS.
I would note with No. 59 the owner engaged the services of a structural engineer and undertook some strengthening work on the building. The details of this work has been passed to our contract engineers to review. If our engineers are satisfied this “new” work has addressed the eqp issues they identified in the building the Council will withdraw the earthquake prone building notice.