News from NZ Government
Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith today officially re-opened a block of units in Lower Hutt which have had significant earthquake strengthening work done as part of Housing New Zealand’s nationwide programme around earthquake-prone buildings.
“Housing New Zealand has a major job to upgrade its earthquake-prone buildings, particularly in the wake of the major earthquakes in Christchurch and Seddon. We are making good progress, with these 16 units being re-opened today, another 111 to be completed by year’s end and a further 230 by next August. A decision will be made soon on the outstanding 58 earthquake-prone Wellington buildings,” Dr Smith says.
“These 16 units in four buildings on Harrison Crescent in Lower Hutt have had significant work done to make them safe for tenants. This work has included installing deep concrete foundations to support steel frames and strengthening wall linings to raise the buildings from 10 per cent to around 70 per cent of the building code for new buildings.”
The work took four months to complete, with the units costing between $90,000 and $120,000 each to strengthen.
“Housing New Zealand is also taking the opportunity to modernise these homes at the same time as carrying out the earthquake strengthening work. This includes installing insulation, new floor coverings, wet wall linings, curtains, rangehoods, ventilation, as well as painting and upgrading bathrooms,” Dr Smith says.
“I appreciate the earthquake strengthening work is disruptive for tenants. The process of undertaking engineering assessments, designing strengthening and determining where it’s economic to repair rather than demolish takes considerable time. However, with tenant safety at risk and tens of millions of dollars being spent, we need to take the time to ensure we get it right.”
Last week Housing New Zealand won an Australasian Institute of Housing award for its work to improve tenant safety by addressing its earthquake-prone buildings.
“This strengthening programme of earthquake-prone buildings makes up $45 million of the $2.9 billion investment in improving the Government’s social housing stock. We will have insulated all 46,500 homes that are capable of being insulated by the end of this year to make them warmer and drier. We will complete the strengthening of Housing New Zealand’s earthquake-prone buildings by the end of 2014, and the repair of Christchurch’s 5,000 earthquake damaged homes and building of 700 new ones by the end of 2015,” Dr Smith says.
“We are deliberately moving at a pace well ahead of the Government’s timeframe for requiring upgrading of earthquake-prone buildings. We have 220 earthquake-prone buildings nationwide which are being assessed for refurbishment or demolition. It is ambitious but doable to have this complete by the end of 2014, as compared to draft legislative requirement of 20 years. This is about the Government leading by example as a landlord and ensuring our tenants are in safe, healthy homes.”