Preparing your home for an earthquake


New Zealand is located on the Pacific ring of fire between the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, with a large number of faults, normally New Zealand experiences around 20,000 earthquakes annually. High risk zones are scattered right across the country, including Christchurch, Kaikoura, Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu, and Hawkes Bay. As such, it is critical New Zealanders are prepared for such events.

Our homes can be hazardous even before an earthquake strikes with many people are unaware of the risks their home can pose.  These tips for earthquake preparedness can not only help make your home safer during an earthquake, but can also minimise any potential damage.


Secure heavy, large and tall furniture. Ovens, fridges, sets of drawers and bookcases will often move or fall over during a shake. A tradesman or handyman can do this easily for you with metal brackets or fixed straps.

Fasten small objects and ornaments. Everything moves during an earthquake, including our displayed ornaments, books and picture frames. Small belongings can be fasted to a flat surface with blue-tac. Larger items may require a tie or brace.

Inspect and fasten, or remove, your chimney. Chimneys built before the 1970s which are concrete masonry or brick, are at high risk of falling during a shake. However, all chimneys should be inspected by a professional building inspector looking for signs of concern such as cracking, loose bricks, and missing or deteriorated mortar. Your inspector will advise you on an appropriate course of action which may involve the removal of the area above the roofline and replacing it with a metal flue, or it may simply require a form of bracing instead.

Fix and secure log burners and gas bottles. Securely fastening your heating source to the wall or floor will help prevent it moving around or falling over during an earthquake. Metal bolts and angle brackets or an anchored metal tray are recommended forms of fastenings.

Fix and fasten the foundations of your home. If your home sits unsecured on piles, it can slide off the foundation during an earthquake. A clear example of this was seen during the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.  

House slides of piles during earthquake

Pile to bearer connections are required to secure your home and this is best done by a Licensed Building Practitioner.


Hot Water Cylinders and Header tanks. As of the 1sty July 1992 the ’91 Building Act came into force and required all hot water cylinders to have restraints, however we frequently find unrestrained cylinders- even ones which were installed after this date! Header tanks are also frequently unrestrained so it is recommended these are secured to prevent risk to life and extensive damage in a seismic event. If in doubt, a qualified building inspector will be able to check these items for you.

An Earthquake inspection. There are many other factors which can pose risk due to the design of certain buildings. It is advisable to have an Earthquake inspection carried out by a professional building inspector who can identify these things and advise you on the urgency of carrying out necessary works. At NZ House Surveys we offer QuakeCheck, an inspection which covers all of the above items including the foundations, chimneys and heating sources, and also includes inspection of the roof, retaining walls, interior risks, and general construction.

To book a QuakeCheck inspection, phone our team today on 0800 487 884

Quake damaged home

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