Questions and answers - Section 39 urgent demolitions

A fence has been placed around my building following an aftershock. Can I enter the area?

Under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, CERA is able to put up fencing to prevent people from approaching a dangerous building or site. You may also see a notice warning people not to approach a dangerous area. If you see a sign, if there is fencing or if you think an area might be dangerous - please do not enter the area as it is not safe.

I have received an Urgent Building Works Notice. What does this mean?

Under sections 38 and 39 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, CERA is able to carry out urgent work on a building where an emergency has caused or is likely to cause:


  • loss of life or injury, or
  • damage to property or the environment, or
  • danger to any works or an adjoining property.

This work can include partial or complete demolition.

Does CERA have to let the building owner know if an urgent demolition is going ahead?

CERA endeavours to contact the building owner by telephone before any work begins. Because of the urgent nature of the work, CERA may begin immediately to remove the danger. As soon as possible CERA will send the building owner and their insurers copies of the Urgent Building Works Notice, copies of the structural assessment report and photographs.

It is possible that future aftershocks may result in urgent demolitions. CERA will endeavour to contact all owners prior to any urgent demolition.

Why have I been sent an Urgent Building Works Notice and not just a section 38 Demolition letter?

Your building has been identified as having damage that could result in a risk of loss of life or injury, damage to the property or the environment, or danger to any works or an adjoining property as the result of an emergency such as the aftershocks on 13 June 2011.  When such an emergency occurs, CERA uses the urgency provisions in section 39(5) and (6) of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

Under section 38 there is normally a longer process for contacting owners, occupiers, and other interested parties and organising how demolition is to occur. This time period is not suitable because the new danger posed by the building must be dealt with urgently.

I am already in discussions with a demolition company and have been contacted by CERA about the need for an urgent demolition. Will CERA use my contractor?

CERA will consider this option where:

  • the contractor is accredited for the work and,
  • the contract has already been signed between the business owner and the contractor,
  • the contractor has knowledge and experience of the building or site and has already developed a demolition plan, which includes a traffic management plan and a debris management plan.

However, any contractual agreements between the owner and the demolition company are not transferred to CERA.

Demolition contractors are engaged by CERA using competitive market rates; these are independently monitored and assessed.

Will property be recovered from the site under urgent demolition?

Contents will be recovered where it is possible to do so safely.

If CERA carries out the work who will cover the cost?

CERA will invoice the building owner for the costs of the dangerous building demolition, including administrative expenses.

Under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, CERA can impose a charge against the land to recover costs.

Please direct any specific questions to:

Email:demolitionenquiries@cera.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 RING CERA (0800 7464 2372)

How can I find out more?

Email: demolitionenquiries@cera.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 RING CERA (0800 7464 2372)

Related information regarding section 39