Earthquake strengthening guide released

Wellington homeowners have a new tool to help assess how their properties might hold up in an earthquake.

A new guide, Earthquake Strengthen Your House, is now available with information on how to identify features of a property that may need earthquake strengthening.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says that the guide is part of a wider work programme to make Wellington more resilient.

"Earthquake Strengthen Your House is a straightforward guide for homeowners to help check the safety of their property," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

"Many Wellingtonians are competent ‘DIYers.’ This handbook provides people with guidance on how they can strengthen their homes which allows them to make informed decisions about whether they want to invest in strengthening work.

"It provides information on ways to limit damage to one's own house and points out what to check. Over the next 10 years the Council will be focusing on strengthening more of our buildings, roads and water network. We also want to encourage Wellingtonians to think about what they can do at a household and community level," she says.

The guide looks at common features on a property that are often damaged in an earthquake and how these can be fixed. It covers features which many of the residential insurance claims from the Christchurch earthquakes relate to, such as unreinforced brick chimneys or walls, foundations and unsecured hot water cylinders.

"Some of the problems that could affect Wellington homes, like securing hot water cylinders and tying the house to its foundations, are relatively easy and inexpensive to fix," says the Council’s Built Environment Portfolio Leader, Iona Pannett.

Wellington City Council commissioned BRANZ (the Building Research Association of New Zealand) to develop the guide. Both organisations have been working with other councils in the Wellington region so that the guide can be used elsewhere. Many other councils in New Zealand will adapt the guide for their local areas.

BRANZ Chief Executive Officer Pieter Burghout says their structural engineering team spent a lot of time in Canterbury after the earthquakes. "We feel it is really important for the whole of New Zealand to learn from Christchurch about how we can work to prevent property damage and loss of life."

Copies of Earthquake Strengthen Your House are now available online at Wellington.govt.nz/earthquake, from Council libraries and our service centre at 101 Wakefield Street, or by phoning 499 4444.

A new earthquake resilience assessment service will soon be launched for homeowners in the Capital. More information will be available at Wellington.govt.nz later this month.

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