Earthquake Prone Buildings

A new national system for managing earthquake-prone buildings in New Zealand came into effect on 1 July 2017. The new system affects owners of earthquake-prone buildings, Manawatū District Council, engineers, other building professionals, building users and the general public. For information on the new system and how it affects you, visit


  1. New system for managing earthquake-prone buildings (EPB)
  2. What does earthquake prone mean?
  3. Identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings
  4. Where to from here
  5. Tips for hiring an engineer
  6. Frequently asked questions
  7. Who can I contact for more information?

New system for managing earthquake-prone buildings (EPB)

New Zealand is extremely prone to seismic activity and ensuring the safety of people is paramount. Buildings need to be safe for occupants and users.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 introduced major changes to the way earthquake-prone buildings are identified and managed under the Building Act. It uses knowledge learned from past earthquakes in New Zealand and overseas.

The system is consistent across the country and focuses on the most vulnerable buildings in terms of people's safety.

It categorises New Zealand into three seismic risk areas (high, medium and low) and sets time frames for identifying and taking action to strengthen or remove earthquake-prone buildings. The Manawatū District has been identified as a high risk area which determines the time frames for building owners over the next few years.

What does earthquake prone mean?

A building, or part of a building, is earthquake prone if it will have its ultimate capacity exceeded in a moderate earthquake, and if it were to collapse, would do so in a way that is likely to cause injury or death to persons in or near the building or on any other property, or damage to any other property.

Manawatū District Council determine if a building or part of a building is earthquake prone using the Earthquake Prone Building Methodology, a document which sets out how territorial authorities (TA) identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings, how engineers undertake engineering assessments, and how territorial authorities determine whether a building or part is earthquake prone, and if it is, its earthquake rating.

Earthquake ratings mean the degree to which the building, or part, meets the seismic performance requirements of the Building Code that relate to how a building is likely to perform in an earthquake and that would be used to design a new building on the same site as at 1 July 2017 – the date the new system came into force.

The Building Act 2004 is available on the Legislation website.

Identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings

The Manawatū District has been identified as a high risk area in New Zealand and Feilding’s town centre will be impacted the most due to the number of unreinforced masonry buildings (URM). Manawatū District Council is administering the process of identifying earthquake-prone buildings on behalf of central government and want to help building owners through the process.

The methodology to identify earthquake-prone buildings has more information.

Where to from here

Under the system for managing earthquake-prone buildings Council must:

  • identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings, notify and request the building owners to obtain engineering assessments
  • consider engineering assessments provided by building owners
  • determine if a building is earthquake prone, and if it is, assign an earthquake rating
  • issue EPB notices to owners of earthquake-prone buildings and ensure EPB notices are attached to the building
  • publish information about earthquake-prone buildings on the National EPB register.

Knowing and understanding the system for managing earthquake-prone buildings is important for everyone. The focus of the system is protecting people from harm in an earthquake.

Click here for more information.

As an owner of a potentially earthquake-prone building click here for more information.

Tips for hiring an engineer

If you plan to undertake a strengthening project, you're likely to be dealing with a range of professionals and tradespeople. One of the first professionals you'll need is a qualified structural engineer. Heritage EQUIP have put together some advice to help you find the right engineer - what to look for, what to ask, and the services you can expect.

Read some tips for hiring an engineer

Frequently asked questions

Why is the law changing?

It will ensure the way our buildings are managed for future earthquakes is consistent across the country, and will provide more information for people using buildings, such as notices on earthquake-prone buildings and a public register.

What seismic zone are we in?

Manawatū District Council is within the High seismic zone.

What are the timeframes for identifying and strengthening in the high seismic zone?

The timeframes for the high seismic zone are;

Seismic risk area TAs must identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings by: Owners of earthquake-prone buildings must carry out seismic work within (time from issue of EPB notice):
High 1 Jan 2020 1 July 2022 7.5 years 15 years

For more information on priority buildings click here

When will the Council start profiling potential EPB's?

Council must report to the Chief Executive of MBIE every year to supply updates on progress for both identifying and the remediation of EPB's. Council's first report is due by 1 July 2019.

Once the new record keeping systems (national and local) are in place, Council officers will begin the process of profiling the potential EPB's in 2018.

What happens if my building is identified as a potential EPB?

If the Council has identified your building as a potential EPB we will advise you of the decision. You'll then need to contact an engineer to organise either an Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA) or a Detailed Seismic Assessment (DSA) to meet the new EPB Methodology.

You'll have twelve months from when Council contacted you to supply this report. You may apply for an Extension of Time within 10 months of notification by completing the Application Form (PDF file, 655.5 KB).

Who is competent to undertake an engineers assessment?

For guidance on who can undertake an engineers assessment click here

How does the new law affect Heritage buildings?

A building owner of a Category 1 or 2 Heritage NZ listed building may apply for an extension of time to carry out seismic work.

An application can only be made once a building has been identified as an EPB and an EPB Notice has been issued. The application for an extension must be in writing.

There is the potential for Council to grant a 10-year extension if the Heritage NZ Criteria is met.

The Council can prescribe a fee for this service.

If my building has been identified as an EPB do I have to display a notice?

There are two categories of ratings for earthquake-prone buildings prescribed in the regulations. These categories determine which form of EPB notice is issued by Council:

  • 0% to less than 20%
  • 20% to less than 34%

Once the Council issues and attaches the appropriate EPB Notice it must be displayed in a prominent place on or adjacent to the building.

Who can I contact for more information?

The team at MDC are available to answer any questions you may have around this new legislation and what it means for you.

Pop in and see the team at 135 Manchester Street, Feilding, call us on 06 323 0000 or email us at