Councils told to sort out dodgy buildings

The Royal Commission of inquiry into the Canterbury earthquakes has told councils to act on unreinforced masonry buildings

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure caused by the Canterbury Earthquakes urges councils to boost public safety.

The report released today echoes the findings of a recent Department of Housing and Building report.

Public safety concerns prompted the royal commission to recommend as a priority that local authorities register all unreinforced masonry buildings and that they should be improved by bracing parapets, installing roof ties and securing external falling hazards in the vicinity of public spaces.

The collapse of unreinforced masonry buildings during the February 22 earthquake in Christchurch resulted in 42 deaths (out of 182).

The Royal commission report recommended eliminating falling hazards by securing chimneys, parapets, ornaments and gable ends; strengthening masonry walls by adding reinforcing materials and installing connections between the walls and the roof and floor systems at every level of the building; ensuring adequate connection between all structural elements of the building so that it responds as a cohesive unit;  inserting steel and/or reinforced concrete frames to take over the seismic resisting role from the original unreinforced masonry structure.

Another main recommendation was that Christchurch City Council should require thorough soils investigations to be carried out as a prerequisite to foundation design.

Land use and building controls should reflect care in placement of buildings of different structural types and sizes, so that soils issues are minimised, the report said.

Cera and the Christchurch City Council should consider compiling and making available a public database of all bore logs previously recorded in the CBD.