Wellington building owners want Government help with ballooning cost of earthquake strengthening

Frustration is growing among owners of buildings in Wellington that need to be earthquake strengthened.

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Owners are demanding and urgent review of the crippling costs to strengthen their buildings. Source: 1 NEWS

They say they're not opposed to getting their homes up to standard, but costs are ballooning and they need the Government to step in and help pay for the work.

Owners are demanding an urgent review of crippling costs although the minister in charge is non-committal to it.

Meanwhile a Government loan scheme promised last year still hasn't been set up.

One apartment owner says she was given an estimate seven years ago that’s more than tripled in cost.

"We were given an estimate way back - well when I say way back 2012, 2013 of about $1 million, that's now expanded to $4 million,” says Carol Brown.

A Government loan scheme to help fix buildings like this was promised in last year's Budget but still hasn't been set up.

But for owners like Carol Brown, who's retired, a loan would hinder not help.

"I made sure I paid off all the money I owed before I retired and now we have this offer of a loan for over $200,000 but to me that is a stonking great debt,” she says.

Her apartment on a main road needs fixing to protect public safety and that's why she argues the public should pay.

"There could be an arrangement whereby the Government pays a percentage, the council pays a percentage and the individual owners pays a percentage because this is being imposed on us,” Ms Brown says.

Hundreds of other apartment owners last week took their grievances to Parliament.

They are demanding an urgent review of how the costs could financially cripple owners.

"People are willing to do it, it's just the scale, they cannot do it. So if the Government wants to do it, the Government has to help,” says Geraldine Murphy of the Wellington Inner City Residents Association.

The Building Minister wouldn't commit to a review or further help, saying the loan scheme offered assistance.

"We assist private owners of buildings. Given that this this public money it also had to be fair to our tax payers,” says Building Minister, Jenny Salesa.

The loan scheme is expected to be up and running in October.