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  We pleased with the Government’s s announcement on overhauling the our crippling earthquake strengthening rules and believe this is a big step towards progress on the issue. Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith has reduced the number of buildings that require assessment from an estimated 500,000 to 30,000. That’s a substantial decrease in costs: down from a total estimate of $1.3 billion to $777 million. Chief executive Connal Townsend says this is great. “We are pleased that the Government has come on board and made a decisive decision on making earthquake strengthening viable for New Zealanders.” “We know how difficult this is and public safety is always at the forefront, but quite frankly, businesses cannot afford the extremely high costs associated with strengthening and the impact this can have on local communities.” We have argued that sky rocketing strengthening costs can have devastating effects on smaller communities who simply cannot afford to carry out the work, leading to derelict buildings and capital flight from regions. “We are satisfied with the Government’s announcement as we know how hard it is to balance all relevant factors such as risk, safety, and costs. We believe the Minister is totally right to say that while there’s still risk associated with buildings above the 34% NBS, we have not had a single death in Christchurch from a building that met this level, but the key here is to make it viable for everybody to be able to upgrade. —  ]]>