Asbestos was in widespread use in New Zealand houses and commercial buildings from the 1940s to the 1990s. It was commonly used in wall or roof cladding, for insulation (both thermal and acoustic), soffit linings, as backing to vinyl flooring and in decorative plaster and textured ceilings.

EQC is committed to repairing a substantial number of homes in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme, many of which were built in this period.

Asbestos Contained Materials (ACMs) are a health risk if they become damaged and fibres are released into the air.

How we're dealing with asbestos

Asbestos needs to be identified prior to any repairs being undertaken. The presence of building materials that could contain asbestos is identified when the Canterbury Home Repair Programme team visits your home to scope your earthquake repairs. (This team may include an EQC representative, the Fletcher EQR contracts supervisor and the contractor.)

  • If asbestos is suspected, samples of the damaged area may need to be taken and sent to a laboratory for testing. (The sample is taken by an independent certified asbestos contractor and then sent to an approved New Zealand laboratory for testing)
  • If no Asbestos is detected the repair process will continue as normal.

If the test confirms that the damaged building contains asbestos, the repair strategy will follow the Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Guidelines for the management and removal of Asbestos.

Asbestos that poses a health risk will be addressed by specialists contractors in accordance with the Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Guidelines for the management and removal of Asbestos 

Where asbestos is identified in a house tagged for repair, the homeowner is always notified.


Where is earthquake-damaged asbestos usually found?

It is often found in textured plaster or decorative ceilings, roof cladding, wall cladding, vinyl or linoleum backing, Soffit linings and insulation.

Who decides how the earthquake-damaged asbestos is dealt with?

EQC will determine the most appropriate repair strategy. In some circumstances, specialist contractors will be consulted.

Does the presence of damaged asbestos slow down repairs?

Generally not, however, scheduling and availability of contractors can sometimes create minor delays.

Who pays for dealing with the asbestos?

EQC covers the cost for damaged Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) where the damage is as a direct result of natural disaster.

Can I have all the asbestos in my home removed?

Asbestos which is not damaged as a direct result of Natural Disaster is not covered by EQC and will therefore become the responsibility of the homeowner. 

What happens if I am cash settled and asbestos is found?

The contractor that you engage is responsible for ensuring that areas that potentially contain asbestos as a result of earthquake damage are tested prior to commencing repairs.  A contractor qualified in identifying asbestos will need to be engaged to take samples from earthquake damaged areas suspected of containing asbestos and have it tested by a certified asbestos testing laboratory. 

It is important to note that EQC only provides cover for earthquake damaged areas of home that are suspected of containing asbestos. If you wish to get other areas of your house tested that are not earthquake damaged, you will need to pay for this yourself.

What if the test returns a positive result?

The contractor engaged to do your repairs, will need to follow the Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Guidelines for the Management and Removal of Asbestos.

Is there a $ cost allowance for asbestos in my cash settlement?

A $ cost allowance is included in your cash settlement for sampling and testing earthquake damaged areas potentially containing asbestos.  If the test returns a negative result, then there is nothing more you need to do as your cash settlement will not be affected.

If the test returns a positive asbestos result you will need to provide a copy of the asbestos test certificate to EQC as your cash settlement figure may need to be reviewed.

If you require further information please contact EQC (0800 326 243).

Resources for homeowners

Homeowner Guide to Dealing with Asbestos (1.2 meg - PDF)

Ministry of Health advice to Bayfield School

Removing Asbestos from the Home (Ministry of Health)

All About Asbestos (Ministry of Health)

Asbestos (overview – see useful ‘related websites’ at left-hand side) (Ministry of Health)

Chief Executive responds to asbestos - Open letter (pdf file)

Page last updated: 20 Jun 2014

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