Falling through the cracks: experts warn of a wave of new buildings failing earthquake standards

There’s the bank, the car dealership and the tyre shop. The bike store, the booze store and the real estate firm.

Take a walk around the streets of Masterton, the 23,000-strong beating heart of the Wairarapa region, and you wouldn’t go far before seeing one of the near-new commercial properties, the product of a thriving rural economy and a civic centre that takes great pride in its appearance.

But take a closer look, and cracks start to appear.

A Stuff investigation has found 13 near-new buildings have structural weaknesses in Masterton, raising fears of systemic failings in the engineering industry.

READ MORE: Nationwide building boom creating next leaky buildings crisis

The design faults, which were not picked up by council, reduced five of the buildings’ seismic strength status to “earthquake prone”.

Now the owner of two of the buildings is struggling to find anyone accountable for the costly errors.

Faulty design work was first discovered when a private Masterton developer Percy McFadzean commissioned a seismic review of a building he constructed in 2005 to be leased to ASB Bank on Masterton’s Queen St.

The initial report found serious design flaws that made the new building earthquake prone. These findings were backed up by two more detailed reviews conducted by independent structural engineering firms.

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Header image Photo Credit: Wikimedia

 

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