But things go a bit screwy when you socialise downside costs, don't charge building owners any actuarily-adjusted insurance levy for provided insurance, and don't enforce the actual building code.
And so 605-613 Colombo Street fell onto a bus, killing 12 and leaving only Ann Brower to write about the failures in building regulations. Before the earthquakes, Council failed to enforce the building code despite pretty serious problems. After the September and December quakes, when the building became incredibly unsafe, Council didn't let the building owners tear the thing down. Ann writes:
There weren't heritage regulations preventing Council from allowing that the building be demolished. But whether the insistence on drawn-out consenting processes for the demolition stemmed from Council worries about annoying heritage activists, or just from the love of process... who knows.
Either moving to a liability system or enforcing a stricter set of earthquake building codes on older buildings is sufficient for fixing things. And both will put a ton of pressure on owners of older buildings, some providing substantial heritage amenities, to tear them down in favour of newer buildings. Moving to a system that pays owners of older heritage buildings to strengthen them moves the burden of heritage protection onto the public that enjoys the heritage amenity and encourages a focusing of effort on the most important buildings.