x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai earthquake code will 'delay projects and raise costs'

The code is effective immediately for buildings under construction and comes on the back of tremors that were felt across the UAE last month due to two major earthquakes in Iran.

All new buildings in Dubai higher than 10 storeys will be required to meet the new earthquake code to ensure towers can withstand quakes up to a magnitude of 5.9. Satish Kumar / The National
All new buildings in Dubai higher than 10 storeys will be required to meet the new earthquake code to ensure towers can withstand quakes up to a magnitude of 5.9. Satish Kumar / The National

A code requiring all tall buildings in Dubai to withstand earthquakes up to a magnitude of 5.9 could delay some projects by up to three months and raise construction costs by as much as 10 per cent, industry experts warned yesterday.

The code is effective immediately for buildings under construction and those that do not have a permit from Dubai Municipality, the state news agency Wam reported.

It applies to any blocks more than 10 storeys tall.

“These new rules will be of great concern to all those people designing and working on tall buildings in Dubai at the moment, especially those already under construction,” said Mark Lavery, associate director for tall buildings at the engineering consultancy Buro Happold.

“The biggest problem is likely to be the delays. It could take two or three months to re-analyse and produce the design documentation to suit the new rules, and then get a new permit from the municipality.

“The other problem could be the additional cost, which could be up to 10 per cent of the construction costs of the building.”

The changes are likely to be felt widely by property developers in Dubai which, the tower database Emporis says, has 355 tall buildings at some stage of construction.

Many of the tall buildings are stalled due to the global financial crisis.

“It is unclear exactly how the municipality intends to handle schemes which are currently under construction, but any delay will have clear cost implications for developers,” said Chris Seymour, head of property and social infrastructure at E?C Harris.

“The exact cost of these new rules will depend on the height of the structure, with costs increasing disproportionately with height.”

The new rules come after tremors from two major earthquakes in Iran were felt across the UAE last month, causing hundreds of people to be evacuated from buildings.

Yousuf Al Marzouqi, acting director of the municipality’s buildings department, said the requirements had been raised “as a result of the increasing number of earthquakes recorded in Iran”.

The announcement follows news that the municipality is set to introduce a revised wind code for tall buildings later this year.

lbarnard@thenational.ae