New powers for emergency building management

  • Hon Jenny Salesa
Building and Construction

The Building Amendment Bill (the Bill), which passed its third and final reading in Parliament today, provides a new system for managing buildings after an emergency, and clear legislative powers for investigating building failures, says Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa.

“The safety of our buildings is critical to our social and economic wellbeing,” says Jenny Salesa says.

“When buildings are damaged in an event like an earthquake or major storm, they can threaten lives and disrupt surrounding areas, thoroughfares and critical infrastructure such as ambulance or rescue services.

There is currently no legislative mandate for managing buildings after an emergency event, or for managing the transition between the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act and the Building Act.

“The Bill resolves this by bringing in new legislative powers and by clarifying roles and responsibilities, allowing for the quick and effective management of affected buildings during and after an emergency.

“The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will now have clearer legislative powers to investigate significant building failures, which will help to avoid similar occurrences in the future. Until now, MBIE investigators have been required to investigate building failures on an ad-hoc basis subject to the cooperation of building owners, resulting in a heavy reliance on incomplete information.

“The Bill also provides councils with new powers for assessing and evacuating buildings in the event of an emergency. This includes the power to restrict entry to damaged buildings,” says Jenny Salesa.

When the law comes into effect councils will be able to:

  • demolish or carry out work to any buildings that pose an immediate risk to life, or risk damage or disruption to neighbouring buildings or public thoroughfares;
  • require building owners to provide information, such as detailed engineering assessments, to help determine the risks posed by their buildings;
  • require damaged buildings to be repaired or demolished on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate.

More information and a copy of the Bill is available here.