The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings

The new document 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 new earthquake-prone building regulations and methodology. Public consultation on the regulations and methodology began on 2 September 2016 and submissions are due on 15 December 2016.

The formal release of the Guidelines will coincide with the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 coming into force, currently scheduled for July 2017. The (current) Revised Draft was issued in October 2016 to accompany the public consultation on the regulations and methodology. This replaced an initial draft for the June 2016 engineering briefings.

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 (i.e. the minimum expectations and requirements for a new building).

Using the Guidelines

Engineers are encouraged to use the Guidelines, referring to both this page to verify that they are using the most current draft and the Errata page for identified corrections. The 2006 NZSEE Guidelines can continue to be used until the final version of the Guidelines are published here. For future reference, the preliminary version(s) of the Guidelines will still be available here after they are superseded.

These Guidelines only provide a brief overview and outline the key principles of reducing the seismic risk of buildings – designing seismic ‘Improvement’. More specific guidance and examples will be published here as both draft and complete solutions are developed.

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 in November and December 2016.

The searchable Knowledge Base on this web site gives answers to questions about the Guidelines.

Download and provide feedback for the individual parts:

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


Please provide feedback using the form on Part A, on Part B or on a section within Part C. Using these forms directs your feedback to the appropriate Task Group leader within the Project Technical Group. Please also see Writing Questions to help the Technical Group manage the feedback.

June 2016 Engineering Briefings

Engineers were briefed on the key elements of the new Guidelines during June 2016. The two part presentation covered:

  • Implementation of the New Earthquake-prone Buildings Provision
    (presentation by John Gardiner)

    • The Amendment Act – Status and main areas of change from the current provisions
    • System Design – how the various regulatory elements required by the Amendment Act are being developed and will operate
  • Introduction to the New Seismic Assessment Guidelines
    (presentation by Dave Brunsdon & Rob Jury)

    • The Seismic Assessment Guidelines have been fully revised to take account of technical developments, including lessons from the Canterbury Earthquakes. One of the requirements of the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 is that the Guidelines must be used as the basis for seismic assessments to determine whether or not a building is earthquake-prone.