The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings

The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings (the Guidelines) provides a technical basis for engineers to carry out seismic assessments of existing buildings within New Zealand. The Guidelines support seismic assessments for a range of purposes, including whether or not a building is earthquake prone in terms of the Building Act 2004 and for property risk identification more generally.

Specifically, the Guidelines provide the assessment component of the earthquake-prone building regulations and EPB Methodology that came into force on 1 July 2017. They must be used for all engineering assessments that territorial authorities use to determine whether or not a building is earthquake prone.

The Guidelines provide methods for two levels of assessment: Initial Seismic Assessment, for a broad indication of the likely level of seismic performance of a building, and Detailed Seismic Assessment, for a more comprehensive assessment.

Both seismic assessment methods rate a building as a percentage of the new building standard applied to an equivalent new building on the same site. For seismic assessment purposes, new building standard refers to the minimum life safety performance requirements of Building Code Clause B1 – Structure.

The key principles of reducing the seismic risk of buildings – designing seismic ‘improvement’ – are covered in the Guidelines in overview only. More specific guidance and examples will be published here as both draft and complete solutions are developed.

Using the Guidelines

From 26 March 2018, a two page Errata (download) for Section C5 needs to be used when assessing relevant buildings identified as potentially earthquake-prone.

The 2006 NZSEE Guidelines and the draft versions are no longer to be used now the final version of the Guidelines have been published. For future reference, the superseded versions will still be available here.

Engineers need training to use the Guidelines so seismic assessments of existing buildings are carried out consistently throughout New Zealand. Please see Assessor Training for details of the training opportunities.

Download the individual parts:

Part A – Assessment Objectives and Principles Part B – Initial Seismic Assessment Part C – Detailed Seismic Assessment


If you have a question, please check the Knowledge Base articles for the section or part that it relates to. If it is not addressed there, please refer to Writing Questions and submit your question using the form in Part A, Part B or the section within Part C as appropriate.