Farm buildings to be exempt from assessment

  • Nathan Guy
  • Nick Smith
Primary Industries Building and Construction

Farm buildings are to be exempt from the requirements for assessments under the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“The Government is not satisfied that the risks posed by farm buildings justify the cost of every building being assessed. These buildings have a low occupancy rate and there is no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapsing in an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes.

“It makes no sense to require earthquake assessments of hay sheds, shearing sheds, implement sheds and milk sheds when the farmhouses where people spend more time are exempted. We need to take a pragmatic approach and focus our efforts to improve the earthquake safety of buildings on those that pose the greatest risk to public safety,” Dr Smith says.

“This decision will be a huge relief to farmers. The earthquake engineering assessments of the 250,000 farm buildings across the country were going to cost $170 million, or an average of $3000 per farmer. This is a good example of the sort of unnecessary compliance cost for farms that could not be justified,” Mr Guy says.

“This is not the only area where I am concerned that the Bill casts its net too wide. I have officials working on other areas of low-risk buildings that should be exempted. This work requires a careful balancing of the need to improve public safety while at the same time being careful not to impose excessive cost,” Dr Smith concluded.