The assessment of earthquake-prone buildings in the Timaru district is under way.

The assessment and upgrade programme, which will take place across the country in the coming decades, is set to improve the performance of buildings during earthquakes.

The initial stage of the process will involve identification and assessments of commercial buildings and multi-unit residences that are deemed “earthquake prone”.

Any owner of a building that does not meet 34% of standards required of new buildings is legally obliged to display a notice informing people about the building’s risk, as part of the earthquake-prone building provisions of the Building Act.

However, Timaru District Council building control manager Jayson Ellis said people should not be too alarmed by the presence of the signs.

“They don’t mean the building is unsafe for daily use, just that in the event of a moderate earthquake the building wouldn’t perform as well as a modern one.”

Once a building was assessed, owners had to bring the building up to the minimum standards, within 12 years for priority buildings or 25 years for non-priority buildings.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey said it was a long-term project running nationwide, so it was important people continued to support local businesses over that time.

“We accept that it will be initially alarming to people to see these notices appearing, but it’s an important step in delivering a stronger and more resilient built environment across the district.”

Council-owned buildings will be among the first to be identified and assessed.

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