Auckland Council is anticipating challenges from building owners whose properties are identified as earthquake-prone.

From November onwards, proprietors of approximately 1800 earthquake-prone buildings in Auckland are going to receive letters of notification which will inform them of their building’s status.

Owners of such buildings will either be added to a national register and undergo the assessment or take part in a private assessment within a year’s time.

A structure is categorised as earthquake-prone if its seismic strength is lower than 34 per cent of the design standard of a new building in the same area.

This could apply to unnotified buyers, unknowing owners, joint-owners and and building owners who refused to provide the required earthquake-prone notice.

According to a report released in 2014 by economist Ian Harrison, such strengthening initiatives would cost $3 billion.

Ian McCormick, Auckland Council general manager of building consents, points out that Auckland has a low siesmic risk and that earthquake-prone buildings are not necessarily hazardous.

Waitemata Local Board contained around 795 earthquake-prone buildings, with the highest number in Auckland; Albert Eden Local Board ranks second with 381 earthquake-prone buildings.

“We don’t want people to be alarmed or to feel they can’t continue working in or owning or supporting a heritage building because of the strengthening,” explains Tava, Waitemata Local Board member.

“We want heritage to be protected as best as possible.”

The assessment generated a lot of fear when it first surfaced, but the issue is a lot less severe than it appears, he clarified.

The letters will take 12 and 15 months to issue and the strengthening will need to be done within 35 years from date of issue.

Puketapapa Local Board will receive the letters first as it contains 132 affected buildings. It will be used to test the waters of the number of queries generated.