Masterton Court House



In November 2011, the 101-year old Masterton Courthouse was closed.  The 900m2 building required seismic strengthening as it was deemed unsafe in the event of an earthquake. Re-roofing was needed to bring it in line with current building regulations and general re-configuration and refurbishment was also necessary to bring the building up to modern standards and allow it to reopen for public use.

In January 2012, the Ministry of Justice began working with Impact to project manage the building’s seismic strengthening and refurbishment.

The proposed structural design was almost as costly as demolishing and re-building the courthouse. Impact recommended a peer review take place to assess if the proposed design represented the best solution for the Ministry. This review resulted in a new design that would half the cost and achieve the seismic capacity required by the Ministry. The Ministry approved the budget for the project and Impact proceeded with appointing the full design team.

A part of Impact’s role was to collate the needs of the different Ministry stakeholders into a brief that clearly articulated all their requirements. This brief meant the designers were fully informed from the outset. In addition, a clear scope of services and appointments for all consultants was provided, so the team had a clear direction.

Technologies included in the seismic upgrade of the building included the use of fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) to strengthen unreinforced masonry walls, plywood diaphragms to the roof and ceiling and bolted connections to tie the strengthened walls and roof together. These strengthening techniques proved to be very cost effective and able to be integrated into the design so well that they are completely hidden in the finished building. For example, FRP is only a few millimetres thick and  can be plastered over plywood diaphragms.

Throughout the project, Impact provided clear leadership. This saw the right design team being appointed, costs controlled and a tender process that got best outcome for the Ministry. By suggesting a peer review, Impact’s initiative allowed the Ministry to save 50% on the previous design and saw the Courthouse reopen in early June 2013, ahead of the original timeframe.


Impact showed real initiative when challenged with such a time conscious project. They offered insight into cost reducing measures, and free flowing collaboration between the many specialist consultants required to deliver on time.

- Jeff Helmshaw, Property Project Manager, Ministry of Justice