Skip navigation

Building a more resilient home

Making smart decisions about design and construction means your new home should be able to perform in the best way possible in the event of a natural disaster.

When planning your new build, talk to your licensed building practitioner, designer or an engineer about what designs, construction methods and materials will help make your new home strong and safe in a natural disaster.


Some things to think about when building a house:

House design

Certain house design features make some homes more vulnerable to natural disaster damage. Structural damage may be more likely in:

  • houses with large open internal spaces, large windows along the front wall and a lot fewer windows on the back wall
  • houses with irregular (vertical and horizontal) design shapes or split levels
  • houses with mixed foundation types (for example, some concrete slab and some suspended timber floor)
  • older (pre-1980) houses that use heavy roofing and wall cladding materials.  All houses with heavy roofing and cladding, built on land that is more vulnerable to liquefaction, are likely to have more structural damage than lighter houses.

If you’re interested in building a home with these features, ask a structural engineer to consider how these features might affect the way the building might perform in the event of a natural disaster.


Different types of foundations perform differently, particularly in the event of a natural disaster. The ideal foundation type for your new home will depend on geographical location, ground conditions and any land features (for example, sloping ground).

Check council information and ask a licensed building practitioner or an engineer about the best foundation option for your site and proposed foundation type. It’s best to do this before you get too far into the design and construction process, particularly in areas where the ground may be vulnerable to liquefaction hazards.


There are many different wall framing and cladding options, so check what will work best for your home. For example, a house will generally respond better to the movement generated during an earthquake if it has strip cladding, such as weatherboards.  Stiff sheet materials are likely to show signs of cracking – particularly at joints.


Well-secured, lightweight roofing materials are likely to be more resilient and safer in an earthquake.

Your designer or licensed building practitioner can get information from your council about wind zones to help them ensure your building has sufficient bracing.

Going beyond the Building Code

All building work must comply with New Zealand’s Building Code(external link) (which encompasses the minimum standards required in the Building Act). This includes work that doesn’t require council consent. The Building Code sets the minimum standard.

Building beyond the Building Code’s minimum standards may give you greater confidence that your home will perform better in the event of a natural disaster. Choices you make may also help your household recover more quickly following a natural disaster.

Some examples of building beyond the Building Code include adding more bracing or building stronger foundations than are required by the Code.

Learn more about smart construction systems(external link) for your design, location, and climate on MBIE’s Smarter Homes website.