earthquake rating Archives - Apartment Specialists

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Apartment Specialists Podcast No: 155


What is the reason why some buildings in Auckland don’t have earthquake ratings? How can you be sure if an apartment building is not earthquake-prone? Find out the answers from this podcast, as Andrew Murray shares his insights and expertise regarding earthquake ratings.


Good day, Andrew Murray here from the Apartment Specialists, talking about earthquake ratings and why all apartment buildings don’t have earthquake ratings. I often get asked the question when I’m showing a person through an apartment.

It may be built in the 80s and what’s the IEP rating or earthquake rating? I said, “It doesn’t have one and the people are going, “Well why not? The one that I saw down the road’s got one, and an older one has one. I want to make sure this is not earthquake-prone.” So, I thought I’d do a podcast on it.

The reason is the council is only identifying or doing assessments on buildings that are built before 1976. The reason for this is because in 1976, the code changed. What changed was a loading element, which meant it had to pass certain regulations, which means everything built after 1976 is a lot stronger. Often times, it’s so it can handle earthquakes. Logically, they’re only assessing buildings from 1976 or before, or earlier than 1976.

I’ve also come across some heritage buildings or buildings that are older than 1976 that don’t have an earthquake rating. It has always baffled me and the reason for that is because they only started doing these IEP ratings, earthquake ratings in 2010 have until 2015 to have them all done. They just haven’t had them all done yet, and there’s no reason other than that. You’ve got to think of how many buildings are in Auckland, and how many they’ve got to go and do these assessments for.

Another thing I get asked is, “Okay, is the earthquake rating going to change?” I addressed that in another podcast. In my opinion, it’s a NO! But it doesn’t mean the IEP rating that the building has is set in stone, because that can be changed. If you do a more detailed report, and that often leads to a building being stronger. Anyway, if you search in my podcasts you’ll find more about that particular one on how to change your IEP rating.

Andrew Murray, Apartment Specialists. Hope that this has been helpful.

Cheers, bye.

Apartment Specialists Podcast No: 154


Will the earthquake rating for Auckland apartments change in the near future? How important is an earthquake rating when buying an apartment in Auckland? These questions will be answered in this podcast along with some exclusive insights about this topic. Learn more about it by watching the video.


Good day, Andrew Murray from the Apartment Specialists. I will be talking about earthquake ratings. Are they going to change?

The benchmark is 34%. Is it going to go up or is it going to go down? And the short answer is, no. You’re probably thinking, “Well how do you know? You just sell apartments.” Well, yes I live and breathe selling apartments, but you’re right, I can’t say this is from myself.

This is from me speaking to structural engineers and to people in this industry – in the building industry and asking their opinions. So, this is the opinions they’ve given me. I’m obviously passing that on to you. I do a lot of research to help me understand the market as well as, obviously, give the right advice to owners.

Basically what they sort of made me aware of is, that every 1% that earthquake rating changes, it costs the country about $700 million. That’s a lot. It’s being at 33% now means that 34% or higher is a pass. To raise that, every percent is going to cost a huge amount of money.

Now, another question I get asked is the earthquake rating going to go down? For example, 33% mark which could fail.  You think that could go down 20%? Now, from the research, I’ve done is that is extremely unlikely because this earthquake rating – to help you understand , it says 33% and that means it’s 33%.

The strength is in regard to a new building, so it means it’s one-third as strong as a new building and that’s built today in an earthquake zone. That also means is that because earthquakes work definitely—a building in an earthquake prone area.  It’s like if we’re saying an average earthquake, and that is at 33% compared to a brand new building, it will have ten times the damage. So for the council or the governing body to lower that, is to put people at risk, especially with apartments when they live in them.

So, for them to take that mark and bring it down, I highly doubt it because that would go against why they’ve actually put in these limitations in the first place. A bad earthquake rating or a failed earthquake rating, it’s bad news and it’s not good for many reasons. A lot of banks won’t even finance an apartment in a building with a low rating. It’s in a nutshell and I can’t see it changing, it’s a 33% mark, 34’s a pass, and obviously, the higher the better.

Thank you. Andrew Murray, Apartment Specialists.

Apartment Specialists Podcast No: 107


What is an IEP Report and how important is it?  If you’re an apartment owner or buyer then you should know the earthquake rating of a building before you make any decision. Get the facts about the IEP Report from this podcast.


What is an IEP report, and what is an earthquake rating?

Basically, they are the same thing. Good day, it is Andrew Murray here from Apartment Specialists, talking about earthquake ratings. Something that’s very prominent at the moment regarding character buildings, and because of what happened down in Christchurch. An IEP rating, which is called as you can see here, I’ve got one in front of us, which is an Initial Evaluation Procedure. Hence IEP, which is what comes out as a figure, gives you a percentage of what iscalled a New Building Standard.

An IEP rating comes out with a percentage, which is compared against what the standard of a new building that is built today, in regards to earthquakes. For example, if it comes out at 75%, let us say in a building that was built 50 years ago, there is 75%, but it’s 75% as strong as a new building that was built today.

I said I would show you one. This one was done by Fraser Thomas Engineers. It was done for a heritage building built in 1917 – The Regency. Obviously done here, which is the Initial Evaluation Procedure, IEP, and they go through and they actually come in and look at how the building was built.

The first IEPs  or earthquake ratings are just done off the plans, which are done by the council, which is my brush stroke approach. If you feel that your building has got a higher structural rating than what a council thinks, you can get an external IEP rating by an engineer. That is when they look in more closely, and then often what happens is, that’ll often increase – it could decrease, depending what has been done to the building. In this case increase, so they look at the buildings and they give you a history of the building. What it was built out of, when it was done, for what.

In this case, because it was built in 1917, it had various things done to it. It went from a warehouse office space, then an extension on the top, then it was turned into apartments in 1994. When it comes to an IEP rating, Initial Evaluation Procedure that comes out with an earthquake rating, it is really talking about two things: What they call longitude, which is what happens with the movement up and down, and what they call traverse, which is the movement side to side.

What is the rating? What will happen in an earthquake, if the earthquake movement was up and down, what is that rating? Against if the building was built today. What is the rating if the earthquake’s moving from side to side? Then each one will have a percentage, and then what happens is, they’ll take the lower of the two. And that will be the IEP rating, which is Initial Evaluation Procedure, or what we call the earthquake rating.

If you look down here, so it goes through a lot of stuff, that really you have got to be an engineer to really get into. I can explain some of it, but a lot of it is sort of probably beyond my expertise. Then it comes down to, we have actually come down to the IEP rating. What they have done here, is I think it might be a bit of a typo, but you can see here, you have got the longitude. Which is the up and down, coming at 54, and then the traverse, which is the side to side strength, is 72%. Now take the lower of the two, and it is 55 – I think it is supposed to be 54 there, because generally that’s what they take there. But anyway, you get my drift. That is what they come and look at. They look at the IEP, and they got the lower of the two of movements – this way and that way, and that gives you your IEP rating or earthquake procedure rating.

At the moment, the law is at 33% is the cut off. If you come in at 33 or lower, you are going to have to strengthen your apartment within 15 years. If it is a character apartment, you can have 25. That means you have to be 34% or higher to pass. In different parts of the country, that is higher – Wellington and Christchurch, etc. I have got, from very good sources within the council, that it is not going to be changing in Auckland.

I cannot promise that 100%, but to give you an idea, every single percent that goes up – that’s 33%. If it goes to 34%, on average, they estimate it to be about $700 million dollars that it’s going to cost the country. I’ve spoken to structural engineers, and they are basically telling me they are 100% sure it is not going to change. Obviously, I cannot say that, because I’m not a structural engineer. But that’s what I’ve heard from the industry, which is great news because I actually own character apartments myself.

Anyway, I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about IEP and earthquake ratings. Obviously flick me an email,, or off the website, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Cheers, bye.

Apartment Specialists Podcast No: 94


Why do you need to raise your apartment’s earthquake rating? How can you raise your earthquake rating? How can it affect the value of an apartment? This podcast will answer these questions. Find out more from this video.


Good day!  Andrew Murray from the Apartment Specialists, on raising your earthquake rating. Now you’ve probably seen in the papers, quite a bit of publicity around character apartments and how the earthquake ratings are affecting their values, and a lot of owners are scared around this.

There’s a number of buildings around the CBD – I don’t really want to mention them – that are going below that 33 per cent threshold, where they have to be restrengthened. That’s a very expensive exercise. One example is obviously St James. It is at 28 percent. It is a stunning building, and to get those earthquake ratings up means a knock to the values. Currently, they’re being sold below their value because of this. So I wanted to talk to you today about what I did in my own building, and how I raised the earthquake rating in my own building.

Now I’m a chairman of the Regency Apartments. Obviously, I work with the owners’ committee here, and I meet with the Body Corporate secretary here, so that’s Paula Beaton from BCA, so I can’t take the credit myself.

But basically what we did is, earthquake ratings are based around what’s called an IEP, which is a Initial Evaluation Procedure, and that’s a brushstroke approach done by the council, where they don’t actually inspect the buildings individually. They look at the original plans. And these are often incorrect.

So what they do is they look at these plans and give a bit of an idea. And they put a rating on it. These ratings are done in a longitude and latitude way. So they’ll have a rating, let’s say we got the Regency for example. It was around about 66 percent longitude. So if there’s an earthquake, going up and down, it had a 66 per cent strength, which is great.

But then the latitude, because it’s old, and it’s where these character apartments often fall – so as in not fall, but fall down. So the earthquake rating was only 35 per cent. Now so that means the IEP rating, or earthquake rating, falls on the lower of two. So it came out as 35.

Now yes, that just scraped through past that 34 per cent mark, which is, you know, the pass mark. But that’s still quite close so it does affect a purchaser’s opinions on what they’ll pay for the apartment .So what we did, is we looked at getting another IEP rating. That’s when you get an engineer in. It will costs you a couple of thousand dollars. They’ll come in and actually assess your building, and actually find out what the IEP rating really is.

So what we did is, we got another engineer in, an independent engineer, to do an inspection of the building. An inspection of  how it was constructed, and actually really really look into closely the strength of that building. And we had a very positive report that came out, showing that the plans that were in the council did not actually reflect how strong the building was. And that came out at 55 per cent, which is fantastic, because that lifts the ratings. And it lifts the value of the building. Being an owner, it was fantastic.

So when you’re dealing with a building, and if you are looking at purchasing a building or you own in a building which has an IEP rating or earthquake rating which is low, talk to your body corporate. Talk to your owner’s committee. Talk to your body corporate secretary and have a chat about getting another IEP opinion.

So get another engineer, to do an independent report, and yes it could come back at the same amount, but it also could come back a lot higher. So before you start thinking, Oh I’m stuck with an apartment with a bad earthquake rating, make sure you go down that avenue.

Now, if that fails, then you can go into– and you still believe that it could be stronger, you then go into a DEE, which’s is a detailed evaluation. That is done by an engineer and that’s very expensive. So that’s when they actually go into, they actually drill holes and look at what kind of steel was involved and all that kind of thing.

A recent one was done in the Wiltshire, which it came in where the earthquake rating was very very low, so, I think by memory, don’t quote me on this, about 23 per cent, and then they got a DEE, so a detailed evaluation, and that came in, by memory, at around 83 per cent. So it shows you that these earthquake ratings aren’t set in stone, and the initial ones that are given by the council are just a brushstroke approach. There are options here to see if you can lift that, and just lift the values of your apartments, with the apartment you own, and the value of the whole building, basically.

So feel free to give me a ring on 021 424892. 021 424892, or, if this concerns you and you’d like to have a conversation about it, because yeah, it’s all not lost and there’s some hope out there.

So anyway, hope that helps.

Cheers, thank you.