Wairarapa's councils are holding off finalising a joint policy on earthquake-prone buildings - and it may not happen this year.
The three councils had aimed to produce a joint draft policy on earthquake-prone buildings by November 2011.
But South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Jack Dowds said work on that policy had been delayed, largely due to those involved wanting to wait for the royal commission report into the Canterbury earthquakes, and any central government changes that may follow.
The commission is in its second week of eight weeks of submissions.
It has until November 12 to report to the Government.
Dr Dowds said it made sense for the Wairarapa councils to hold off on their proposed joint policy: "It is simply prudent to wait for the changes to be made to central government policies and legislation so that we can give effect to those documents and only have to make the changes once ourselves."
South Wairarapa's policy on earthquake-prone buildings lacked teeth, he said. It didn't allow swift action on building owners who did not comply with quake-prone buildings standards, in particular those who did not have their buildings assessed.
"We are currently working with the Masterton District Council and Carterton District Council and other lower North Island territorial authorities to develop a consistent policy that gives us more power to require action," Dr Dowds said.
A Masterton District Council spokesman said a review of its earthquake-prone buildings policy was due to be heard by its policy and finance committee on July 25. The committee would determine the council's interim position, which would include the option of taking into account the royal commission findings.
Masterton was in a similar position to the other Wairarapa councils in that its earthquake-prone buildings policy lacked teeth in terms of enforceability, he said. However, a change to that policy was signalled in the council's recently approved long-term plan 2012-22.
"The council may set a targeted rate in 2013-14 or future years in order to recover the costs of work council had done relating to private property. This work may include undertaking earthquake assessments on commercial buildings," the plan said.
Carterton District Council planning and regulatory manager Milan Hautler said, like many other councils, it was waiting for the royal commission's report.
Mr Hautler said Carterton was also considering introducing an interim policy to give it more power to require commercial building owners to have assessments done.
Assessments of quake-prone buildings must be carried out by qualified structural engineers and can cost up to $1500.
Masterton's list of possible earthquake-prone buildings includes 230 buildings which have been identified as having that potential but have not been assessed, and another 12 that are in the process of being assessed.
South Wairarapa has received 97 engineers' assessments from property owners about the extent their buildings are earthquake prone, of which 18 have been found to be below building code.
Another 125 buildings either have yet to be assessed or the council has yet to receive a report for them.
Of the 94 buildings identified as potentially earthquake-prone in the Carterton district, six require remedial work, two have been demolished and 62 still need to be assessed.
The other buildings on the Carterton list have either had their remedial works completed or their use changed to residential.