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Warning on quake vulnerability

11 Sep 2017

The Insurance Council of New Zealand is warning Wellington homeowners to quake check their houses after new research reveals not enough is being done by homeowners to check their biggest asset for earthquake vulnerabilities.

Wellington homes are generally older than the national housing stock which makes them more vulnerable to earthquakes.  Wellington is more vulnerable to earthquakes than many other parts of New Zealand” said Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton.

A UMR survey explored the age of the housing stock in New Zealand and asked homeowners what maintenance checks they had undertaken for earthquake vulnerabilities.

“The older Wellington housing stock clearly points to a vulnerability for the city with 21% in homes older than 75 years old (nationally 15%), 59% living in homes that were 26-75 years old (compared with 50% nationally), and 20% in houses less than 25 years old (nationally 34%)” he said.

“We live in a seismic country and have one of the longest coastlines in the world. These add up to more than our fair share of natural hazards affecting our daily lives and assets.  New Zealanders, and particularly Wellingtonians, need to wake up to spending some time protecting themselves from the risks they face” he said.

The survey found that 61% said their house had been re-piled (Wellington 78%), 72% had checked that their roof was properly braced (Wellington 77%), 70% had checked whether foundations were properly attached to the floor framing (Wellington 72%), 66% had checked to see floors were level (Wellington 75%), 57% had checked for sub-floor dampness (Wellington 63%) and 50% had checked for sub-floor borer (Wellington 56%).

“When those with homes older than 75 years old were asked about actions they had taken to make their homes less vulnerable, Wellingtonians were more responsive but there is a lot of room for improvement” he said.

“The Wellington Resilience Strategy outlines seismic risk as one of three challenges for Wellington this century, and the resilience of our homes as one of the greatest opportunities for improvement.  Wellingtonians need to aim to make our City ‘the capital that knows how to live with earthquake risk’ rather than a City that might be crippled by a seismic event” said Mike Mendonça, Wellington City Council Chief Resilience Officer.

Top 5 quake-busters:

  • Secure your hot water cylinder and your ceiling/roof header water tank.
  • Remove your chimney if not in use, or check its stability and safety if still used.
  • Correctly fasten the floor bearers to the piles and check the stability of the piles.
  • Check the foundations and the connections of the floor joists to bearers.
  • If you have a clay or cement tile roof, check the wire fixing tiles to tile battens.

“Experience from Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes is chimneys are vulnerable, especially brick chimneys.   We recommend people get a professional in as weekend warriors trying to remove a chimney for example is never a good idea” said Grafton.

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