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Last reviewed: Mon, 21 Oct 2013

FAQs Council Facilities Rebuild Plan

Frequently asked questions regarding the Council Facilities Rebuild Plan

How long will it take for decisions to be made and work to be done?

The length of time it will take to repair or make another decision about a facility will depend on the type of facility, the level of damage and the assessment and insurance process. Decisions for one site must take place within the context of all 1600 Council-owned facilities across the city and in Banks Peninsula.

Due to the large number of buildings owned by the Council and the limited number of engineers, quantity surveyors and other staff available, it will take until mid 2014 to complete full engineering assessments on all facilities.

All major decisions about a facility must be made by elected members. They will be presented with a full report, which includes recommendations from Council staff, about a building.

Some repair work to facilities has already been completed, allowing them to re-open to the public. Some temporary facilities have opened until more permanent solutions are in place and staff are currently working on plans for rebuilding some facilities.

Due to the size of the project, decision making, investigations, repair work and rebuilds are occurring in stages. Repairs and rebuilding will occur to some facilities as investigations into other buildings and decision-making about them continues.

In September 2012, the Council agreed that 30 projects should be prioritised for funding, further investigations and, where possible, repairs. This includes progressing engineering assessments, discussions with insurers and, looking at repair and strengthening options or, in some cases, seeking approval to demolish a building.

A draft prioritised programme for the non-residential facilities in the Facilities Rebuild Plan project that are not included in the Council’s priority 30 list of facilities was approved by the Council on 6 December 2012. This list, which has had community board input, prioritises the order in which investigations will be done on a facility, which will in turn help to inform decisions made about it. The prioritised list does not set out when a facility will be repaired or other work carried out.  See the list here.


Are the Council buildings that are currently open safe?

Council-owned buildings are currently undergoing Detailed Engineering Evaluations and this process is almost complete.  It is possible that these evaluations may show a building has more damage than identified in earlier engineering assessments. All Council buildings that are open have been assessed as suitable to be occupied. Council facilities were prioritised for DEE assessments according to a risk-based profiling approach endorsed by the Engineering Advisory Group Committee. Factors that are were into account include:

• Recommendations made as part of a Level Two Rapid Assessment
• The age of a building
• The material with which it is constructed
• The number of people using the building
• The type and duration of building use
• Ground conditions
• Whether it is likely to be an earthquake-prone building.


Will Council-owned buildings be expected to meet the New Building Standard (NBS)?

As part of the Detailed Engineering Evaluation process, buildings are being measured against the New Building Standard. Recommendations will be made to the Council around the cost of repairing a building to 34 per cent, 67 per cent or 100 per cent of the new building code, where possible.


Why have some buildings re-opened even though their seismic capacity is less than 34 per cent New Building Standard (NBS)?

On 27 February 2014, the Council agreed to revise the threshold for closing its non-residential buildings that have undergone a DEE assessment, which could lead to some Council facilities re-opening.

The Council revised its previous policy of closing all non-residential buildings with a seismic capacity of less than 34 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS) following a DEE assessment. The policy was introduced in December 2011 following the Canterbury earthquakes.

Engineers are now reviewing the 236 closed Council buildings to determine if they can re-open. Buildings that can re-open will undergo a series of health and safety checks to ensure they comply with the Building Act before re-opening. The Council will contact affected community groups once it determines which facilities can re-open.

Under the new policy:

• All buildings that do not have significant damage and do not have a brittle collapse mechanism, (defined as a part of a building which, on failure, could lead to a collapse) can be occupied without restriction.

• Buildings with significant damage that have a seismic capacity under 34 per cent of the NBS should not be occupied. (Significant damage is structural damage or damage to the ‘load bearing elements’ of a building such as beams or columns).

• A specialist engineering panel will be set up to provide recommendations on the occupancy of Council buildings that have a seismic capacity below 34 per cent of the NBS and have a brittle collapse mechanism (defined as a part of a building which, on failure, could lead to a collapse). Buildings that fit into this category but are deemed fit to occupy by the engineering panel will also remain open.

Measuring a building’s suitability for occupancy against the New Building Standard is very crude.  In deciding whether a building is suitable to occupy the likely behaviour of the building is considered in addition to its strength.  This is because the behaviour of a building can have a greater impact on the damage a building suffers in an earthquake than its strength (eg a brick building would perform differently to a timber building of the same strength).



What will happen to the buildings that are part of this Facilities Rebuild Plan?

There are a number of possible scenarios: a building is repaired to the same level; a building is repaired to a higher standard; a building is demolished and replaced with the same type of facility; a building is demolished and replaced with a different facility or a building is demolished and not replaced.


Will I have a say in what happens to a facility?

A lot of public consultation has already occurred as part of key Council strategies around its facilities and the services provided there. We are committed to keeping the public informed about decisions made about a facility. There is likely to be some public consultation for some of the major facilities.


How much is this expected to cost?

This is unclear at this stage of the project. The Council has insurance in place to cover repairs to a building where there is earthquake damage.

The Council is estimating $274 million will be the cost of reinstating these facilities. The cost of improving or strengthening Council facilities above their pre-earthquake strength comes on top of this and we're also budgeting for this.


Does the Council have enough insurance to cover all its buildings?

Council insurance will cover earthquake damage but it will not cover any betterment or improvements such as strengthening a building.
Before the earthquakes, the Council’s assets were insured for close to $1.9 billion on a full re-instatement basis per asset.

This was based on advice from professional valuers. The gap between insurance and rebuild costs is the extra cost required to strengthen our buildings and to introduce improvements.  Unlike open-ended replacement household insurance, our facilities were covered to a set value based on repairs to 33 per cent of the NBS. 


What is a Detailed Engineering Evaluation (DEE)?

The DEE process was developed by the Engineering Advisory Group, and supported by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), to assess existing buildings following recent earthquakes.

The DEE process requires a detailed analysis of a building’s structure to gain an understanding of the damage that a building has sustained; the cause of the damage and the overall impact on the performance or capacity of the building to withstand future earthquakes or significant aftershocks. This is expressed as a percentage of the New Building Standard (NBS). DEE assessments also include recommendations for future repair or earthquake strengthening work.
These assessments can take a number of months and engineers may employ a number of techniques, including invasive tests such as removing wall cladding or ceiling linings.

For more information, see the Engineering Assessment Document [PDF 400KB]


Earthquake-damaged Town Hall

Earthquake-damaged Town Hall

larger view ]

Why is the Council carrying out Detailed Engineering Evaluations (DEEs)?

The Council is carrying out DEE assessments on its buildings to help it determine the level of damage a building has sustained and a building’s capacity to withstand future earthquakes. DEE assessment results also help to make decisions about whether a building should remain open. These assessments will inform discussions with the Council’s insurers and, along with a full damage assessment, help the Council to make decisions about the future of a building.

How has the Council determined the order in which assessments will be carried out on its facilities?

Buildings are being prioritised for assessment according to a set of weighted criteria. To see the criteria, click here. Three different categories have been taken into consideration in the prioritisation process. The ‘occupancy’ category takes into consideration factors such as the type and number of people using the building and the length of time the building is occupied. The ‘use’ category considers what the building is used for, for example this could be a critical activity for the Council or the building could have be of significant value to the community. The ‘physical attribute’ category takes into account a number of factors such as the age of the building, the material with which it is made, its heritage significance, and the size/complexity of the building. This category also notes the type of damage a building has incurred.

Buildings that meet a combination of the criteria will be the first to be assessed. It will take longer for those who meet fewer criteria to be assessed. A wide range of Council staff have had input into this assessment programme, including chartered engineers, facility managers and elected members.


How much will these assessments cost to undertake?

The two-year programme of work is expected to cost about $6 to $7 million. This will be mainly funded by insurance where a building has structural damage and where there is a successful insurance claim. If a building does not have structural damage, the Council will pay for it to be assessed.


Does an engineering assessment need to be completed before repairs can begin on a building?

As a DEE assessment gives a more accurate picture of the type of damage a building has sustained, it does not make sense to begin significant repairs until this level of assessment is completed.


What steps must occur before a Council building is repaired?

To make sure the right decisions are being made, the Council needs to follow a rigorous process and this takes some time to complete. Staff need to gather all the information about a building to make a recommendation to Councillors.  Councillors make all the final decisions about a building.
All Council buildings underwent a Level Two Rapid Assessment – a visual assessment of the inside and outside of a building- or an equivalent assessment after the earthquakes. All buildings must also go a Detailed Engineering Evaluation or DEE. The DEE provides a more detailed picture of the building’s structure, earthquake damage and assesses its ability to withstand future aftershocks.  This is expressed as a percentage of the New Building Standard (NBS). Once this evaluation comes in, the Council reassesses if a building can remain open/closed in line with its occupancy criteria. 

Then comes a full damage assessment.  This details the damage to the building and what steps need to be taken to repair it. This information is used in discussions with the Council’s insurers to come to an agreed position about a building. At this point it may become apparent that a building is damaged beyond economic repair.

Next the Council progresses to a conceptual repair strategy which includes options for repair and strengthening the building if required. The options for repair are costed.

Following this, a recommendation is made to the Community Committee , which subsequently makes a recommendation to the full Council.  Councillors make the final decisions on any building. 

Following Council approval, a detailed repair and strengthening plan is developed by a builder.

At this stage, if a consent is required, the Council lodges one and, once issued, the repair works can begin. 

Click here for a visual flow-chart of this repair process.


Authorising Unit: Capital Programme

Last reviewed: Monday, 21 October 2013

Next review: Monday, 21 April 2014

Keywords: council facility, facility