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Friday, December 31, 2010

Building and Repairs - Checklists and Guides

ConsumerBuild is a website developed jointly by the Department of Building and Housing and Consumer New Zealand  (with support from other organisations including BRANZ, Consumer Affairs and Standards New Zealand).

Amongst the material on their site is a page of checklists and guides for those embarking on journeys of repair, renovation, rebuilding and relocating. None of the material is specifically earthquake related but is still pertinent to what we will be encountering over the next two years. You can find that page here.

The home page of ConsumerBuild is here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Unsympathetic EQC staff dismissed

It was reported in the media yesterday (Press, NZ Herald, Otago Daily Times, and National Radio) that EQC has sacked a small number of its assessors because of their lack of a sympathetic approach to claimants. A sad way to end an extremely difficult job.

There are no details on the EQC site as yet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DBH Booklet - Guidance on house repairs and reconstruction

The best place to start when looking for information on how house repairs should be assessed and carried out is the Department of Building and Housing's booklet Guidance on house repairs and reconstruction following the Canterbury earthquake - A summary of geotechnical and structural engineering recommendations to guide house repairs and reconstruction.
 
There are eight main headings for the contents of the guide:
 
1. Introduction and Scope
2. Summary of Insurance and Regulatory Requirements
3. Future Expectations for Land and Buildings
4. Repair Criteria and Assessment Approaches
5. Repairing Houses
6. Rebuilding Houses
7. Recommended Arrangements for Engineering Input
8. Flood Risk and Floor Levels
plus some appendices.

If your house has suffered damage to its foundations then Chapter 4 is the one to read. It starts with a simple description of the types of settlement a house can experience, then provides a table of recommended criteria against which a particular house type can be assessed and the repair work that will be required (or maybe a rebuild instead!).

Chapter 5 describes the various repair methods and Appendices 3 and 4 outline repair methods.

The booklet can be down loaded from DBH here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guidelines for Repairing Gib Plasterboard

Winstone Wallboards Ltd. have a bulletin Guidelines for Repairing Gib Plasterboard Linings in Wind or Earthquake Damaged properties. 

This is a 4 page bulletin which helps identify different types of damage and how the gib board should be repaired or if it should be replaced.

Make sure you are looking at their Technical Bulletin - Version 2, issued November 2010. It has been available at many hardware stores but was/is out of print.  A copy can be downloaded from here.

Renting - Becoming a Tenant

Most of those who have to move out of their homes while repairs or rebuilds take place are likely to find themselves in the unfamiliar position of tenant. Even if we have rented at some stage in our lives it may have been so long ago that the "rules" have changed to the point where we are absolute beginners.

Both the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) and the Tenants Protection Association (ChCh) Incorporated (TPA) are useful sources of information and have plenty of useful material on their sites have .

My suggestion would be to start with the DBH then progress to the TPA site.

The relevant DBH page is here and the TPA here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Boxing day earthquakes.

EQC have classified the December 26th swarm of earthquakes as a new earthquake.

A new claim will have to be made for any damage caused. As it is a new earthquake anyone affected by it has 3 months in which to lodge a claim.

The EQC  news release on this can be found here.

Insurance Companies Covered By Ombudsman Complaints Process

The Insurance & Savings Ombudsman ("ISO") scheme covers a large number of insurance companies. THE EQC IS NOT covered by this process (they are covered by the office of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.)

As at the 26th of December 2010 there were a large number of insurance companies who were part of the scheme. The most recognisable names were:
  • AA Insurance (in association with AIG)
  • AMI Insurance
  • AMP Life
  • IAG (Insurance Australia Group)
  • NZI (part of IAG)
  • PSIS
  • SIS (part of AIG)
  • State Insurance (part of IAG)
  • Tower Insurance
  • Vero Insurance New Zealand
If your company is not listed above a full list of participating companies can be found on the ISO website here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Canterbury Earthquake Insurance Complaints

The New Zealand Herald has reported Karen Stevens, Insurance and Savings Ombudsman (ISO), as saying the office of the ISO "was responding to rising concerns over the handling of quake insurance claims, by offering advice to clarify people's entitlements."

The article was here on 26 December 2010.

The ISO scheme is funded by insurance companies as a means of redressing consumer complaints. The service is free, impartial, and based in Wellington.

Snell Place footbridge

The Snell Place footbridge is open again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas



Cards courtesy of NASA (Hubble) and STScI

Friday, December 24, 2010

EQC Complaints Procedure

EQC have established a complaints procedure and a complaints web page outlining what is involved. The web page is not clearly marked in the EQC website menu structure (it is located under the Contact heading). Click here to go to it.

The following are extracts from that web page:

How do I send EQC a complaint?   You can click here to fill out and send us a form with the details of your complaint. We do need your claim number, so please make sure you have this ready.

Next steps.  
  • If you have sent us a complaint and given us an email address, we will send you an email confirming we have received your complaint.
  • Otherwise we will write to you acknowledging your complaint.
  • We will allocate your complaint to one of our team who will look into your complaint and contact you to work through the issue.
  • You should expect a response from us within 5 working days. If we need to take longer because, for example, we need to get additional information, we will let you know.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Police Report - Canterbury Earthquake: key points and forecasting

Extracts from a Christchurch Police press release issued earlier today:
 A police report on crime trends following the 4 September Canterbury earthquake indicates crime rates are predicted to return to normal levels over the next three months.
The report has shown that overall crime reduced by 15 percent in the immediate aftermath of the quake, although some categories of offending, including burglary and family violence, showed increased activity.
The report, Canterbury Earthquake: key points and forecasting, has been prepared by police for internal planning purposes, and has also been distributed to other agencies involved in the earthquake recovery phase.
Findings in the report include:
• Overall total recorded offences decreased by 15 percent in the three-week post-quake period. Some of this may be attributable to delayed reporting.
• There was a 28 percent increase in calls for service to Police, the majority of these coming on the day of the earthquake (1286 calls on 4 September, compared to a daily average of 500)
• Increases were recorded in domestic disputes and family violence calls, with some callers referring to the stresses of the earthquake. (Note that family violence statistics have been trending upwards for several years, due to factors such as societal changes and improved reporting, which may also have contributed to the increase).
• Significant reduction in theft from cars and car conversions
• Theft offences decreased by 35 percent, while recorded burglary offences increased by 18 percent, the majority of these from dwellings. Note that some suburbs targeted for burglary were already high risk areas.
• Suburbs which suffered significant housing damage were particularly at risk, especially in relation to theft of hot water cylinders and scrap metal.
• Violence offences decreased by 10 percent compared to similar periods in previous years.
• Decreases in reporting were also noted in arson, fraud and sexual offending.
• The number of attempted suicide reports increased in the post-earthquake period. However the total number was relatively low and given the short time frame this is not considered a significant increase.
The report is much more extensive than the above implies. It contains a significant amount of researched material that has looked at the problems arising from other major disasters (e.g. Hurricane Katrina, Australian bushfires) and put them into a Canterbury context in an attempt to forecast social and anti-social developments through 2011 and 2012.

One of the Report's pointers for the future is that properties/areas vacated for repairs or rebuilding will become focal points for vandalism and theft. Increased membership of Neighbourhood Watch would be a good place for us to start. It would be also useful if we were to discuss how repairs and rebuilds in our area could be staggered to ensure that all vacated properties have neighbours present about them.

The report, which makes very interesting reading, can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Consumer Protection for Repairs and Rebuilds

The Department of Building and Housing has a web page covering the protections available to consumers like us who are having repairs done, or a new house built. The topics covered are:
  • Disputes
  • Warranties
  • Putting it right
  • Complaints about licensed building practitioners
  • Other laws that protect you
You can find it here. There is also a link to a site called Consumerbuild with more information about building, buying, renovating and maintaining houses - which sort of covers us.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guidance on house repairs and reconstruction

The Department of Building and Housing has issued a new document providing guidance on building repair and construction specifically for properties damaged in the Canterbury earthquake.
A few key points:
  • the document contains guidance on technical aspects associated with repair and reconstruction
  • one of its purposes is to achieve consistency in the technical approach of the parties involved (designers, insurers, councils)
  • it is aimed at work in areas with little or no ground damage
  • at this stage they are interim guidelines (changes are likely in the first quarter of 2011 as more information becomes available, especially in areas affected by liquifaction)
  • no changes have been made to the NZ Building Code
The guidelines can be downloaded from here.

Press Release - Minister of Building and Construction

The following is a press release from Maurice Williamson, Minster of Building and Construction from yesterday afternoon:
A Department of Building and Housing document released today will provide guidance on the repair and rebuilding of houses in earthquake affected Canterbury, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says.
The Guidance on House Repairs and Reconstruction following the Canterbury Earthquake will help speed up the rebuilding effort while enhancing quality and safety.
Mr Williamson says the document will assist in the recovery effort by providing a clear and consistent approach to the rebuilding work as desired by councils, insurers, designers and builders.
“A consistent approach to repair and reconstruction in areas will minimise delays and aid the recovery. This document proposes engineering solutions that enhance quality and safety and are consistent, robust and well considered.”
The document is part of the Government’s support for recovery in Canterbury and the Department of Building and Housing’s ongoing work to simplify and streamline consent processes in Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri.
At this stage the guidance only applies to houses affected by the Canterbury earthquake, but the Department of Building and Housing will consider incorporating them into more general guidance for the rest of the country at a later date following sector consultation.
The press release can be found here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sewer repairs - timeframe

CCC recently published a two page information sheet with questions and answers specific to particular areas. With regards to sewer repairs in the Avonside and Dallington areas they had this to say:

What is the timeframe for sewer repairs in Avonside, Dallington and nearby areas?   It could be up to two years but it depends on the programme of works that the Council’s contractors determine. The contractors rebuilding the Council’s infrastructure will be responsible for the planning and timing of repairs. They will soon swing in to action and, in consultation with the Council, decide on the programme for repair for each area and the associated timeframes. There will be more information soon regarding the timeframe for them setting up in the area, including having a local site office.

Replacing the Medway Street bridge.

CCC recently published a two page information sheet with questions and answers specific to particular areas. A small comment was made on the future of both the Medway Street and Snell Place footbridges.

It seems that some progress has been made on deciding what to do with the Medway Street bridge.

When will the Medway St and Snell Place foot bridges be removed and rebuilt?   A report to the Council regarding the Medway footbridge is being prepared. The Snell Place footbridge is being assessed to determine whether to retain and repair, or remove and renew the bridge.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rebuilds - Smarter Homes

Smarter Homes is a website owned by the Department of Building and Housing to provide:
clear, independent, factual information about sustainable home design, building and lifestyle options. Readers who access this information will be able to make choices that make their homes warmer, drier, healthier, more affordable, more comfortable and kinder to the environment.
They have a 44 page guide, that can be downloaded for free, which they describe as:
The booklet offers advice on topics including insulation, heating, lighting and appliances as well as home buying, building and maintenance. A range of no/low cost tips and recommended worthwhile investments shows how people can achieve better energy efficiency and cost savings in these areas.
You will find it here:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CALM - Computer Assisted Learning for the Mind.

The University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences has a website, aimed primarily at U of A's students, that combines your computer with their online and downloadable material to provide:
  • Practical techniques in developing positive mind states
  • Practical techniques for managing stress
  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Finding meaning in life through religion
  • Finding meaning after adversity
  • Finding meaning in our day to day lives
The home page is here:

These resources may be of some use.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Rateable Values

The CCC has issued a media release detailing how the new rating values will be set for those areas most affected by the earthquake.
"Council valuers will now update the existing rating valuations, based on an effective valuation date of 2007, on the worst-affected commercial, residential and rural properties. Rates payable for the year starting 1 July 2011 will be set based on these valuations, which will also inform the city-wide general revaluation next year."
To the extent that I understand this, it would appear that the 2007 values (used for the rates for the last three years) will be adjusted for those properties most affected by the earthquake. The adjusted figure will then be used to calculate the rates payable from 1 July 2011 until 1 July 2012. As properties are rebuilt new valuations will be made.

The whole text is available here:

There is no mention of how the valuations will be decided, or if there will be a special appeal process for those who either disagree with the new valuation or feel they should have received an earthquake related revaluation but didn't get one.

In the normal valuation process there is an opportunity to object to a valuation, provided the objection is made within 6 weeks of the valuation being released. Presumably this process will apply to these valuations as well.

You can check out the valuation of your property here: http://ratesinfo.ccc.govt.nz/

Relocation and School Zoning

If families are relocated during repairs, rebuilding and land remediation work does a problem arise over school zoning rules? According to the CCC the situation is as follows:

Will the Ministry of Education recognise the damaged address, currently empty, when a school application is made for children who are currently living out of zone?
If a student is already attending a school then it is not an issue. If a family is relocated whilst restoration of damaged property is taking place, the Ministry expects boards to take a commonsense approach to the individual situation of the family. The Secretary for Education has a discretion to override a school's enrolment scheme in certain circumstances, and if necessary a parent can contact the Christchurch office of the Ministry on 03 378 7788 (response from the Ministry of Education).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Red Cross Relocation (accommodation) Grants for Tenants and Homeowners

The NZ Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Commission will be offering grants to those people who have to move from their houses while repairs are being made or land is being remediated.

Although the word repairs is used it appears that those affected by either repairs or rebuilds are covered by this scheme. The grants are available to both tenants and homeowners (owner occupiers).

If you have no insurance cover for relocation costs there is a different, more generous, eligibility criteria (which is reproduced below).

Applications must be on the Red Cross form and can be posted, faxed or delivered in person.  Processing of applications will commence on the 20th of January 2011.

Full information and an application form can be found on the Red cross website here.


Criteria 

NOTES:
  1. This information was correct as at the 16th of December. As time goes on it will be increasingly important to check the Red Cross site for the latest information.
  2. Clause (d) seems harsh as there will be many who live in areas designated as Zone C and won't know the dates and duration for the work to be done for months or even a year or more.

In order to be eligible for a Relocation Grant:
(a) You must have been living at the affected address at the time of the Canterbury Earthquake and must be the owner occupier or tenant on the tenancy agreement.
(b) You may still be living at the affected address, or may have been living in alternative accommodation since the earthquake.
(c) If still living at the address, you have been advised by your insurance company or EQC that you will need to vacate the property while repairs are carried out.
(d) If you have been living in alternative accommodation since the earthquake because your home was uninhabitable, you have been advised by your insurance company or EQC of a date when repairs or rebuilding is expected to be commenced, and a timeframe for completion.
(e) If the expected duration of your stay in alternative accommodation is 3 months or less, then only those who have no insurance policy that covers the cost of relocation will be eligible.
(f) If the expected duration of your stay in alternative accommodation is over 3 months but not more than 6 months then only those who have no insurance policy that covers the cost of relocation or whose insurance cover does not cover the full cost will be eligible.
(g) All those whose expected duration of stay in alternative accommodation is greater than 6 months are eligible.

Red Cross Grants - General

The New Zealand Red Cross has available a number of grants for home owners and tenants experiencing difficulties.

Their website has information on the following:
  • Relocation Grants (accommodation during repairs or rebuilds - for both home owners and tenants)
  • Financial Support Grants (income reduction as the result of the forced closure of a small business)
  • Emergency Grants (for people unable to live in their homes due to damage- for both home owners and tenants )
  • Damaged Home Grants (still living in a home but with loss of water or sewage services - for both home owners and tenants )
Details are available here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Department of Building and Housing

The Department of Building and Housing was an outfit unknown to me until Sunday evening. According to the Department's website:
The Department of Building and Housing's vision is for a building and housing market that delivers good quality homes and buildings for New Zealanders that contribute to strong communities and a prosperous economy. Here you will find information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weather tight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.
Also on the site is information for people who have been affected by the earthquake. One link leads to a page with advice for those who are rebuilding their homes. It seems to be pretty good stuff although oriented towards those who are organising their own repairs or rebuilding. You can find it here.

A good place to start if an insurance company is rebuilding your home. It will provide insights into what the processes should look like and areas you would want to have documented to your satisfaction. See also the Repairs and Rebuilds Information Pages (on the right) for other DBH links.

Rebuilds

Some of those of us who know, or anticipate, they will have to rebuild are keen to do so in a way that is environmentally friendly. On a separate Information Page (see on the right) is a list of resources that may help you get going.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Repairs

When an assessment has been made homeowners are put into one of the three categories (below $10,000, between $10,000 and $100,000 or above $100,000 - plus GST) and eventually the money arrives, followed at some stage by the assessment.

Few of us have much, if any, knowledge on how damage should be fixed, what that will cost, or even if the damage assessment is correct. There is a lot of information available but finding it can be difficult.

We are starting to locate useful stuff and new information pages will be set up on this blog regarding Repairs, Rebuilding and Land Remediation. Links to the pages can be found to the right.

I am most grateful to the man who rang me on Sunday night with a whole lot of pointers to where stuff can be found and who can help. A specialist in building matters his call was in response to an e-mail he received "out of the blue" from me. What a great country we live in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Road renewal and pothole fixing

The CCC has added more to its webpage Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings. This time it covers the planning and timetabling of renewing and repairing roads. The full text is below. The basic points to be taken the new information is:
  • Road renewal will not occur until after sewer and storm water drains are renewed.
  • Road renewal will not start until land remediation has been finished.
  • Resident participation in renewal planning will not occur, roading will be reinstated to the way it was (i.e retain the same street layout). Reinstatement will invariably mean that upgrades or improvements (e.g. speed restricting road designs) are unlikely to be made.
  • Where choices need to be made Council will make these and inform residents about the selected option.
  • Potholes will continue to be repaired as before the earthquake - notify the council of a problem and they will fix it.
  • Child safety issues associated with paths and parks that have been damaged will be done by contractors as part of the Council's infrastructure rebuilding programme.
What is the road renewal timeframe?  Road renewal will follow pipe renewal works.

Are they going to wait for land remediation to occur before roads are replaced?   Yes.

Will the Council repair the roads and underlying ground to prevent vibration damage in the future?  All repairs will have road shape designs and requirements to minimise traffic-induced vibration.

What say will we have in selecting or advocating for a permanent solution and can there be improvements to parking etc?  Asset renewals will generally replicate assets that existed prior to 4 September 2010 using good practice methodologies. Asset renewals will include optimised decision-making and the installation of "modern equivalent" assets, e.g. new style flat street channels as appropriate. Residents will be informed about the selected option.

Can the Council seal the potholes as they appear?   Yes, please report them to the Council on Ph 941 8999.

When infrastructure is done will they upgrade at the same time?  Designs will generally replicate what existed prior to September 2010. Some "modern equivalent" assets will be installed, e.g. new style flat street channels as appropriate. Each site will be considered separately.

Can we get some interim repairs done to the roads in the meantime as they are dangerous?  All emergency work has been completed and all roads should now be safe for the posted speed limits. Final solutions/ timing will be determined by the contractors repairing the Council's infrastructure in each area.

Will streets be redesigned to stop speeding when they are reconstructed?  The street layout will be a renewal of the original layout. Speeds will be monitored following all works and action taken if speed is an issue in the future.

Why is the Council not telling people when the water will be turned off?   There are two reasons for turning the water off: for reactive repairs when there is a burst pipe for instance or for planned work, for instance for the connection of re-laid mains. For reactive work when the Council's contractor turns the water off they ring the Council call centre to let them know so if anyone calls in in there should be a record that the water is off and for how long it is expected to be off. It is not possible or practical to send notices, or inform everyone, every time the water has to be turned off for reactive purposes. For planned shutdowns the contractor doing the work should deliver notices to each household at least 24 hours in advance to notify the residents of the upcoming shut-off.

Can something be done about paths, and safety for kids in parks? Facilities are broken and paths muddy, creating a health and safety issue.   This will be addressed by the contractors rebuilding the Council's infrastructure.

Will street design stay the same?   Yes, the street layout will be a renewal of the original layout.

Community Law meeting

Community Law Canterbury held a meeting in the afternoon of Friday the 10th, which I attended. The brief of the meeting was:
Community Law Canterbury’s initial response to the quake was to provide an immediate availability for both information and advice and to provide fact sheets in relation to topical legal issues related to the quake. We also attended community forums and begun work on compiling a legal resource manual.
We are currently undergoing an analysis of our own client’s needs to date and wish to learn more from our community as to what its present legal needs are and how we can best contribute with legal help.
To that end we invite you to a meeting at Community Law Canterbury, 281 Madras Street, on 10th December 2010 from 3pm to 5pm. The focus of the meeting will be for us to briefly introduce our response to date and our anticipated further legal needs but more importantly to hear from you as to what types of legal issues your organisation has been confronted with or any legal difficulties you or your clients have experienced
A large number of people attended, most of whom represented support groups from a range of organisations. It was a bit surprising that the issues canvassed ranged well outside the legal area however it certainly helped provide a context from which Community Law can work out where best it can make a contribution.

I was too busy paying attention to take notes however there will be minutes provided in a week or two which I will distribute to those who are interested.

One piece of information provided via a member of the Ombudsmen's Office was that EQC is about to set up a complaints procedure with dedicated staff (who should have been appointed by now). Will try to find the details and post them here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cowlishaw street sewer and stormwater mains

Hydro Tech spent parts of yesterday and today working on the sewer and stormwater mains in Cowlishaw street, which should also benefit Chaddesden Lane.  They checked with a video camera and flushed them out with water from the fire hydrants.

Friday, December 10, 2010

LIM Reports and earthquake related information

Today the Council's  Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings webpage was updated with information about the information to be placed on LIM reports. All of that information is reproduced below. Please remember this information may change over time so check the Council website to make sure you have the most recent information.

NOTE: If you had a yellow or red card placed on your property the third section especially applies to you.
What information on earthquake land damage will be placed on the LIM report?   Council is bound to advise LIM applicants about special characteristics of the land. This includes effects of the earthquake, including liquefaction and subsidence. We have two sources of information - the Tonkin & Taylor reports, Land Information New Zealand report. We will reflect the results of these reports in the LIMs.
For properties undergoing land remediation works - does this go on the LIM and if so, when will it be removed?   We believe that remediation of land bestows upon that land a ‘special characteristic’ which is required to be reported on in a LIM. Where land is directly remediated (such as ground compaction methods) then this should be reported in LIMs as that ground has undergone specific specialised treatment. Where land is within a perimeter treatment zone (the large dams intended to prevent lateral spreading) then this too should be reported as the land will be unlikely to suffer lateral spreading in any further events – again a special characteristic is bestowed on that land. We believe reporting of this to be an advantage for property owners, as it informs potential buyers what works have been undertaken to counter any remarks about land damage including liquefaction (including lateral spreading) and or subsidence. These remarks would remain on the LIM permanently.
Will there be any reference to earthquake damage, house rebuilding or repairs on the LIM?   If the Council has issued a notice - such as a red or yellow placard on your property then that is a notice issued by Council and absolutely must be reported in the LIM - we are bound by legislation on that. If works or investigation takes place and the notice is removed then we should have that information supplied to us so we can also report that in the LIM - it will serve to 'set aside' the original notice.
If a new house is built then we will record the building consents and any other notices or certificates associated with that. We would not make comment on any destroyed structures that were demolished. We will also need to make comment on what we know about the land.
If I have to make only small earthquake repairs, will this go on my LIM?If the repairs did not require a building consent then it is unlikely they would be included in the LIM. But for homes where a notice had been issued, e.g. a yellow placard, then we would advise that owners forward any details of repairs be  included in the LIM.
Can council provide updated LIM report if we want to buy a house somewhere else?   Yes. Each LIM is a unique document that relates the information that Council has about property. As new information comes to hand we update the information systems that we use to manage the LIM process.

Community Policing

The December issue of Ten One - Community Edition, the New Zealand Police online magazine has a brief article on community policing in Christchurch, and especially Avonside. The article is here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Avonside Community Picnic

There is to be an Avonside Community Picnic on Sunday the 12th of December (this Sunday) at Woodham Park (access off either Woodham Road or Lionel Street). Time is from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. Advertised highlights are: Mullet Man, Punk the Clown, Giant Bouncy Castle, Sausage Sizzle, Games Fun + More. 

You should have received a flyer in your letter box today (or maybe tomorrow).

MPs and Hagley/Ferrymead Councillors and Community Board members have been invited to come and help but a few volunteers are needed to help with whatever needs doing on the day.

Enquiries to actionforchristchurcheast@gmail.com

Police support for quake-hit suburbs

Christchurch Police have issued a news release describing efforts to provide extra support to residents in the Avonside and Dallington areas. Some extracts from the news release are reproduced below. The full press release can be found here.
Christchurch Police are stepping up their support for residents in quake-hit Avonside with a Police bus providing a presence in the area over the coming weeks.
Christchurch Central Area Commander Derek Erasmus says a "booze bus" will be pressed into service from today [Thursday 9 December], to provide a mobile community base for Police liaison with Avonside residents.
"The bus will be a regular presence in the area for a couple of days each week," says Inspector Erasmus.
"It will give residents an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns, as well as providing a visible reminder that we're there to support and help the local community."
Police will be delivering flyers to residents, advising when they will be in the suburb and where they will be based.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Major updates to the Council's on-line information

The CCC has made significant additions to the web page Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings.

The two areas covered by the change are Support (mainly Red Cross and other relief grants and assistance) and Roads, wastewater systems and other infrastructure.

The Support information includes eligibility for grants, the forms to fill out, how much money is available, how many grants can be applied for, and whether insurance excess payments qualify for these grants (the short answer is no).

The Roads, wastewater systems and other infrastructure section covers a wide range of topics including a few we have discussed:
  • What is the Council's schedule of plans for timing for repair and restoration of infrastructure?  The programme (including timing) is being prepared now.
  • Who fixes services / leaks in private lanes with several houses? As we pay the same rates.   Unless there is a designated Council main (water, wastewater, or stormwater) in a private lane the repair of the services is the responsibility of the owners of the properties in the lane. The Council can advise on a case by case basis if there is a public main in the lane.
  • Is there a contact person for toilet backwash etc?  Who do you call? What is the timing of information, and who do we ask?   If there has been a sewage spill onto a property, this presents a health risk and the Council will clean it up and disinfect the area. Phone the Council on (03) 941 8999
  • The streets are just patched up. When are the whole things going to be redone? Sewage, water, roads etc...   Council is appointing head contractors to plan the rebuild of the city's infrastructure. This work will be programmed to ensure completed works do not get disturbed. This means that the order of work in a street will be land remediation (where required), sewer, stormwater, water and then road corridor and landscaping.
  • When they do infrastructure will they put power wiring, poles and fibre optic cables underground?   There are no plans for undergrounding services as the poles, wires, etc are not Council assets. Companies involved with fibre-optic cables have expressed an interest in being involved during any road renewals. The Councils contractors will meet with the telephone companies and Orion to ensure co-ordination of any service installation planned by these utilities.
There is a lot more on the web page.

New sewer line

On a personal note, many of you will have seen the fine chaps from Maxwell Plumbing digging up our drive.

We share a sewer and stormwater line with Julian and Jan. After the earthquake the line struggled along for some weeks but gave up shortly after Gail and I returned home. It turns out it had been shattered in a number of places (old clay pipes) and the lateral from the sewer main to our sewer line was also damaged. Julian was able to get things organised with Maxwells and by tomorrow night we should all be re-enthroned, as it were. Then it will be good-bye to the porta-loos.

Some progress photographs:







Flood protection on the Avon

The CCC updated some City Planning Issues information on the 6th of December on the webpage Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings referred to in earlier posts.

The bit on flood protection reads as follows:
Inspections and surveys conducted since the earthquake confirm that there are no significant post-earthquake differences in the benchmark levels around the city. This means that the land has not generally risen or fallen with respect to the sea, although there have been minor rises or falls in particular areas.
The lower Avon River has more than adequate capacity to handle a major land-based storm. Flooding risks in the earthquake-affected lower Avon River are mostly related to exceptionally high tide levels which can occur as spring tides and/or storm surges. In general the earthquake has not affected the flood protection status of the river, and the risk of stopbanks overtopping is no greater than pre-earthquake. The stopbanks are strong enough to exclude tidal water. Partial blockages in Porritt Park Loop, Knights Drain and Estuary Drain do not pose a major threat to flooding and are being rectified.
Such issues are much less relevant in the Heathcote River, which does not have significant stopbanks. The area around the Heathcote River was also much less damaged by the earthquake.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The effect of the Canterbury earthquake on the property market

QV (Quotable Value) have released information on property values in Canterbury for a period that predates the earthquake and two months afterwards. The summary of their report is reproduced below. The whole of their report can be found here.
Summary
A relatively small percentage of properties in Waimakariri District, Christchurch City, and Selwyn District have been badly affected by land damage and will require significant re building work. Following some initial disruption, the remainder of properties are beginning to sell again, although the process is taking longer than usual.
In the month of the earthquake the number of sales dropped by 37% compared to pre-earthquake levels, but activity is continuing to pick up in subsequent months.
Property values were gradually declining in the months up to the earthquake. Following the earthquake this downward trend reversed with values in Christchurch City and Waimakariri District in October 3.2% higher than this previous trend. Local QV Valuers are reporting healthy interest in the property market, driven both by locals and people coming from outside the region to assist in the repair and rebuild.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Council information for spa and pool owners

The following are extracts from a CCC media release from the 6th of December:
The Christchurch City Council is stepping up its pool safety campaign in the wake of the 4 September earthquake
In addition to ensuring regular pool safety measures are in place, the Council is now also seeking to identify and inspect all earthquake-damaged pools in the city to make sure they are safe.
All swimming pool owners are being contacted directly by letter, and two inspectors will be working to inspect all damaged  pools in the city.
What the Council needs to know about pools following the earthquake
  • Is the pool still intact and operational?
  • Has the pool or pool fencing suffered damage?
  • Is the pool area safe – barricaded off/temporary fencing/empty?
Residents are also urged to advise Council if
  • their pool is empty and will remain so.
  • their pool has suffered extensive damage and is no longer useable
  • they no longer have a pool.
The full press release is here.

Earthquake Rates Relief - CCC double dipping? Part 4

Earlier I mentioned that the Council had stated the end result of the rates relief policy was that residents who had to leave their houses would have the additional rating costs included in the emergency accommodation provided by insurance companies. As there were no specifics about this, and our insurance policy seemed to exclude ordinary expenses, I asked the council about the basis for the statement.

A few days ago an e-mail arrived from the CCC explaining the basis of the statement that residents would not pay twice for rates:
" ...has passed your request for further information on to me for response.  The information that you refer to, in paragraph 32 of the report to Council on earthquake related rates relief dated 17 November, was based on discussions between Council staff and claims managers for three of the largest insurers in the Christchurch market - IAG (owner of State and NZI), Vero and Lumley.  The information provided by insurance company representatives was verified with the Chief Executive of the Insurance Council."
In essence this means that emergency accommodation provided by those insurers will include a component for rates, which will not be deducted as an ordinary expense along with electricity, phone etc. If you are with Lumley, NZI, State or Vero it looks like you can have an expectation that you won't pay your rates twice. The rest of us will need to look at this with our insurance companies.

Again, this is fine on the surface but there are significant underlying problems.
  • Where an insurance company pays the rates then the double dipping is shared across two parties. This reduces the burden on homeowners but the issue remains.
  • Once a policy holder is no longer eligible for emergency assistance from their insurance company they pick up the cost again. For some, especially many of those in Zone C areas, this may continue for two or more years.
Ultimately the Council is still double dipping no matter who pays the additional rates. Hopefully a joint approach by local MPs can influence the government to underwrite the relatively small amount the council would lose (c. $6m over three years) and relieve the pressure on all concerned.


NOTE:

The power to levy rates is granted to councils via the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002. This power allows council's to be flexible in how rates are set (section 3 (a)), and gives them power to remit some or all of the rates payable if considered appropriate (section 85). The discretion is wide and the choice of the amount remitted lies with the council. The bottom line is there appears to be no legal requirement for the Council to levy rates on earthquake affected properties.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

EQC on your Christmas card list?

How do you feel about adding EQC to your Christmas card list?

While we are experiencing frustration, disillusionment, anger or despair with the post-earthquake process there is a high risk of forgetting that those trying to make things right are human beings just like us.

I personally would find it a thankless task, working for EQC, and try to be grateful for those who have been prepared to do it.

So how about sending a Christmas card of peace and goodwill to EQC staff? The cost is low and it might help someone who is also stressed, maybe wondering why should they bother, and will be giving up their Christmas break to try and make a difference.

The only postal address I can find is:

The Staff of EQC
EQC
P O Box 311
Wellington


Lawrence

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Public information meetings for earthquake affected residents

Labour MPs Brendon Burns and Lianne Dalziel are organising a series of meetings for those with unanswered questions. Representatives from the insurance industry and EQC have been invited.

Brendon Burns and Lianne Dalziel are jointly hosting a meeting on Monday the 6th of December. If you live in Avonside, Dallington, Avondale or Richmond this meeting is for you. The meeting commences at 7.00pm and will be at Shirley Intermediate School, on Shirley Road, near the Palms shopping centre.

Lianne Dalziel is also hosting meetings for her electorate area on Tuesday (Bexley residents), Wednesday (Horseshoe Lake, Burwood and Parklands), and Thursday (Brooklands, Spencerville, Kainga and Stewarts Gully). Details are available from her electorate office 382 0288.
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CCC - Repairs and Rebuilds: Building consents

On the Council’s web page Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings there is also information on building consents as they apply to post-earthquake repairs and rebuilds. That information is reproduced below. Please be aware that as time goes on what is listed below may change so check the Council’s website for the latest information.

What is the timeframe for a new building consent? Will the Council speed up the process for rebuilding?   A streamlined approach will see consents processed more quickly for the project managers engaged by EQC and the insurance companies.  This reflects an on-site approach to consenting these type of consent and close liaison with designers and builders. Normally consents take 20 working days where all of the information is provided, but further questions slow this process. Project managers will liaise direct with the Council to get the consent sorted out as soon as possible.

Our resource consent has a time limit - will that be extended?   Time limits can be extended and existing use rights might apply.

Will building consents be issued before sewerage is repaired?   It is important that sewerage systems are considered during the consenting process to ensure connections are possible. However consenting can occur once they are planned and prior to their repair.

How much are they charging for building consents?   Building consents are charged on the time it takes to process them and how many inspections there are.  Streamlined processes will reduce the overall cost where licensed building practitioners are engaged.

Will houses be progressively inspected by the Council during repairs?   Yes. However this only applies to repairs which require a building consent.  An extended range of works is able to be undertaken without a consent.

Will there be more building inspectors to inspect work?   Yes, a further 30 building inspectors are being employed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

CCC - Repairs and Rebuilds: Building standards and regulations

On the Council's web page Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings there is some information on the application of the current building code to repairs and rebuilds. That information is reproduced below. Please be aware that as time goes on what is listed below may change so check the Council's website for the latest information.

Does the current Building Code stand?  Yes, the current Building Code still applies. There may be other floor level and foundation requirements for affected areas.

Is the Council going to impose new building standards for the most affected areas, e.g. for foundations?  There will be new building requirements particularly around foundations in affected areas. New foundation design standards are being prepared by a special design group working with the Department of Building and Housing and the Council. New guidance documents are being produced for affected areas.

What will the new building standards include, especially for foundations?  The new design standards include a range of six options including deeper piles, wider footings, honeycomb foundations, post tensioned slabs and in some cases additional compacted hard fill - depending on the situation.

Who decides if a repair is to the existing or new building code?  New standards/guidelines will apply. The Council will ensure the appropriate method is used.

If there are new building standards then who pays?  Rebuilds need to be built to the current building code. Most insurance policies are for total replacement and so insurance companies will have to pay for the upgrade to the new standards.

Will we have to comply with the new building regulations if the house was older?  For a complete rebuild - yes.

Will we have to change to lighter cladding on damaged land?  No.  Different foundation designs will apply to different cladding systems.

Will double glazing be required?  For new houses - yes. Rebuilds need to be built to the current building code. Most insurance policies are for total replacement and so insurance companies will have to pay for the upgrade to the new standards.

Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings

CCC have issued another e-Newsletter, this one covering the topic: Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings.

The link in the newsletter takes you a web page containing the questions and answers discussed at various community meetings. While not yet complete the site does have a wide range of topics covered. You can go to the web page by clicking here.

Some of the information in the answers is not particularly "solid" and I will deal with that over the weekend.

Quite useful is the information on Building Standards and Regulations, and Building Consents,  which will also be dealt with separately.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

EQC Claims Procedure Manual

Thanks to Sharyn the EQC Claims Proedure Manual has been located on-line. The pages are not dated so it is impossible to know whether these are current or not.

Most noticably missing is information on the procedures available to claimants who wish to dispute an assessment or some part of the process.

The start page can be found here at http://www.eqc.govt.nz/claims_status/EQC-Claims-Procedures-Web/Start_Here.htm

I will look it over and  post, from time to time, any extracts that may be of interest.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What next after the 2nd Geotech report – Zone C Processes

The main report contains outlines on the processes to be followed in remediating land according the zone in which a property is located. These are reproduced below:

Zone C is Retreat Road and many of the streets closer to the river.
2.3 Zone C
Zone C is the land which has generally suffered very severe or major land damage, or is close to the areas of major remedial works. It includes a buffer area, where required, to provide adequate space to undertake the works and protect neighbouring buildings. Zone C also includes some areas of moderate land damage which require a wider-scale, coordinated remediation programme than the land in Zone B. Land remediation and building work in Zone C will require suburb-specific geotechnical reporting, engineering design and major remediation works. These will differ from suburb to suburb to meet the target land performance standard as adopted by the Government. Repair or rebuilding of houses in this area will need to be staged so that repairs and rebuilding work can be undertaken in association with land and infrastructure remediation.
2.3.1 Process
• Suburb-specific geotechnical reporting is being undertaken and will provide engineering guidance for the coordinated land repair strategies.
• Where buildings do not need to be rebuilt but can be repaired, cracks located on accessible land should be filled with sand or gravel (depending on crack width) and the land lightly compacted with a plate compactor or small roller. Additional works may be required where cracks or significant volumes of ejected sand are present beneath dwellings.
• Demolish buildings and damaged hard surfacing where re-levelling or repairing is not economically practical. Where land cracking is severe, sub-excavate the ground and recompact the upper 1-2 m to achieve a hardfill raft beneath the building platform and main access way, and as much land beyond the building platform and main access way as is practical.
• Where perimeter treatment works are undertaken to reduce the extent of lateral spreading under a similar sized earthquake event, building foundations can be constructed subject to simple shallow soil testing confirming suitable foundation conditions.
• Where perimeter treatment works are not practical, consideration could be given to constructing specific foundations that can accommodate similar levels of ground movement, as experienced from the Darfield Earthquake sequence, without structural collapse.
2.3.2 Programme outline
It is recommended that works within Zone C in any individual suburb be staged to allow the maximum number of people to remain in their homes for the longest period possible. Staging of works will allow rebuilding to commence as soon as one portion of land remediation work is completed.
The actual timeframe and number of stages involved will depend on a number of factors including detailed design and location of the land remediation works, obtaining necessary regulatory approvals, and co-ordination with infrastructure works. Once each stage of the land remediation works is complete, rebuilding works in that stage will be coordinated by the private residential insurance companies. It is likely that land remediation works will occur concurrently in a number of areas to ensure the works can be completed as quickly as possible.
A flowchart demonstrating the indicative programme is provided in Figure 5.3 (page 14).

What next after the 2nd Geotech report – Zone B Processes

The main report contains outlines on the processes to be followed in remediating land according the zone in which a property is located. These are reproduced below:

Zone B is Chaddesden Lane, Cowlishaw Street and Patten Street
2.2 Zone B
Zone B land has mostly suffered some land damage as a result of liquefaction. T&T engineers consider that this land has now mostly returned to its pre-earthquake strength, although the ground surface may be disturbed and require minor surface levelling and compaction. EQC will generally cover the cost of this surface remediation work.
2.2.1 Process
• Cracks located on accessible land should be filled with sand or gravel (depending on crack width) and the land should be lightly compacted with a plate compactor or small roller. Additional works may be required where cracks or significant volumes of ejected sand are present beneath dwellings.
• Necessary land and building work can begin now in accordance with council consent requirements. In cases where foundation repair or rebuilding works require consents, the suburb wide geotechnical reports will assist in providing engineering guidance.
• Repair building on existing foundations (provided they are undamaged and level), or
• Evaluate the practicality of re-levelling or repairing damaged foundations, and repair wherever economically practical, or
• Demolish and rebuild where re-levelling or repair is not economically practical. Rebuild on new foundations, in accordance with council consent requirements, subject to simple shallow soil testing to confirm that the upper ground surface provides sufficient bearing capacity in terms of NZS 3604.
2.2.2 Programme outline
The programme of building repair works will be coordinated by the Fletcher Construction Company for EQC claims under $100,000 plus GST. Building repair and rebuilding works for claims over $100,000 plus GST will be arranged through the private residential insurance companies.
A flowchart demonstrating the indicative programme is provided in Figure 5.2 (page 13).

What next after the 2nd Geotech report – Zones and Timelines

Who is in what zone?

Cowlishaw Street, Chaddesden Lane and Patten Street are classified as Zone B, with Retreat Road as Zone C (see Appendix B, page B-5). This is obviously a generalisation as the boundary on the map runs where the fence is between our place, Alan's and others, and the neighbours on the Retreat Road side of the fence. Chances are damage to land did not follow fence lines.

The significance of the Zones is that Zone B is considered to be an area requiring no major land remediation and that work can commence independently of works on public land (protective work around the river) and other properites in the same suburb. Work can start quickly in Zone B. Unfortunately Retreat Road is Zone C where wider coordination will be required and there will be a slower start to work on properties.

The report has this to say about Zones B and C:

2.2   Zone B

Zone B land has mostly suffered some land damage as a result of liquefaction. T&T engineers consider that this land has now mostly returned to its pre-earthquake strength, although the ground surface may be disturbed and require minor surface levelling and compaction. EQC will generally cover the cost of this surface remediation work.

2.3   Zone C

Zone C is the land which has generally suffered very severe or major land damage, or is close to the areas of major remedial works. It includes a buffer area, where required, to provide adequate space to undertake the works and protect neighbouring buildings. Zone C also includes some areas of moderate land damage which require a wider-scale, coordinated remediation programme than the land in Zone B. Land remediation and building work in Zone C will require suburb-specific geotechnical reporting, engineering design and major remediation works. These will differ from suburb to suburb to meet the target land performance standard as adopted by the Government. Repair or rebuilding of houses in this area will need to be staged so that repairs and rebuilding work can be undertaken in association with land and infrastructure remediation.

Timelines

Zone  B: The main report states (page 13) that work will be staged and anticipates the first repaired/rebuilt houses will be complete by May 2011. All repairs/rebuilds should be completed by May 2013.

Zone C: Land remediation and infrastructure reconstruction will commence in February 2011 and the first remediated areas ready for reconstruction by April 2011 (page 14). The first repaired/rebuilt houses will be complete by August 2011. All repairs/rebuilds should be completed by August 2013.

(Lawrence's NOTE: these timelines have to be considered indicative as there are so many things that could happen including: ongoing after shocks, bad weather, process issues involving insurance companies, availability of builders and other trades, supplies of materials, disputes and lawyers.)

Geotechnical land damage report - Stage 2

If you haven’t received your letter from the EQC its various parts can be found on-line at:


The letter about the report does not include the report itself, or any of the appendices, so you will need to visit the link above to see or download copies.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Earthquake Rates Relief - CCC double dipping? Part 3

After a small exchange of e-mails with the Council it is clear the Council is double-dipping on 60% of the rates. If you have to move into alternative accommodation while your land or house is being remediated/fixed/rebuilt you will be affected by this.

Where home owners have to move to alternative accommodation they will end up paying (one way or another) more rates than if their land/house had not been damaged by the earthquake. If the homeowners are fortunate enough that their insurance company will pay (which they may not) the Council still profits by charging more rates than before the earthquake (see further below for more detail on this).

One wonders if councillors we advised of this outcome before they voted for the partial rates relief package on the 18th of November?

It is likely that the policy was drafted to give only partial relief so that rating income would not drop too far, and threaten some of the Council's planned operations and projects. While this is meritorious, it is inappropriate that those most affected by the earthquake should be the ones to suffer the consequences of this approach.

An e-mail has been sent to local members of parliament to see if a multi-party approach could be made to the Government to compensate for lost rating income, providing rates are remitted in full.

Figures released by the mayor's office on 18 November stated the package represented about $1.439 million in lost rates revenue over three years. A bit of scaling up would suggest the cost of full rates relief to both homeowners and businesses would be around about the $6m mark, over three years. Not a lot compared to the money available to host the rugby world cup.

Will keep you posted.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Brendon Burns - Earthquake update

Brendon Burns has posted an earthquake update on his blog site which can be found here.
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What is liquifaction? - Part 2

The geology department at the University of Utah also has a very useful explanation which is repeated below. Although the explanation is given in a US context it helps make the connection between liquifaction and sandy soils, especially when we remember (if we ever knew) that a large part of the loop of the river we live was an area of sand dunes in the 19th century. The university's web page is here.

What is liquefaction? Liquefaction may occur when water-saturated sandy soils are subjected to earthquake ground shaking. When soil liquefies, it loses strength and behaves as a viscous liquid (like quicksand) rather than as a solid. This can cause buildings to sink into the ground or tilt, empty buried tanks to rise to the ground surface, slope failures, nearly level ground to shift laterally tens of feet (lateral spreading), surface subsidence, ground cracking, and sand blows.

Why is liquefaction a concern? Liquefaction has caused significant property damage in many earthquakes around the world, and is a major hazard associated with earthquakes in Utah. The 1934 Hansel Valley and 1962 Cache Valley earthquakes caused liquefaction, and large prehistoric lateral spreads exist at many locations along the Wasatch Front. The valleys of the Wasatch Front are especially vulnerable to liquefaction because of susceptible soils, shallow ground water, and relatively high probability of moderate to large earthquakes.

Where is liquefaction likely to occur? Two conditions must exist for liquefaction to occur: (1) the soil must be susceptible to liquefaction (loose, water-saturated, sandy soil, typically between 0 and 30 feet below the ground surface) and (2) ground shaking must be strong enough to cause susceptible soils to liquefy. Northern, central, and southwestern Utah are the state's most seismically active areas. Identifying soils susceptible to liquefaction in these areas involves knowledge of the local geology and subsurface soil and water conditions. The most susceptible soils are generally along rivers, streams, and lake shorelines, as well as in some ancient river and lake deposits.

How is liquefaction potential determined? The liquefaction potential categories shown on this map depend on the probability of having an earthquake within a 100-year period that will be strong enough to cause liquefaction in those zones. High liquefaction potential means that there is a 50% probability of having an earthquake within a 100-year period that will be strong enough to cause liquefaction. Moderate means that the probability is between 10% and 50%, low between 5 and 10%, and very low less than 5%.

What can be done? To determine the liquefaction potential and likelihood of property damage at a site, a site-specific geotechnical investigation by a qualified professional is needed. If a hazard exists, various hazard-reduction techniques are available, such as soil improvement or special foundation design. The cost of site investigations and/or mitigation measures should be balanced with an acceptable risk.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

EQC - as reported in the Press

Yesterday's Press (27 Nov) had some interesting articles and letters regarding the way in which EQC is handling claims. If anyone still has the Press would you please keep me the letters section. Apparently there is a letter there about assessors being rewarded under certain circumstances, possibly to the detriment of the householder.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What is liquifaction? - Part 1

There are websites in NZ with explanations of liquifaction however few of them seem particularly useful in understanding what happened in our area. The best local site so far is that of the Selwyn District Council. The following is an extract from their webpage which can be found here.


Q. What is liquefaction?

A. Liquefaction occurs in loose sand and sandy soils when it is saturated and subject to strong seismic shaking. In a dry sand, the shaking would normally joggle the sand particles into a denser, more compact arrangement, but with water filling the voids between the particles, the water becomes pressurised instead. This can result in the
  • almost complete loss of friction between the particles and hence soil strength
  • consequences of liquefaction including:
    o Foundation bearing failure as the soils under shallow footings loses strength and it is no longer able to support the loads.
    o Ground settlement, as the originally loose sand settles back into a somewhat denser state, sometimes as much as 0.3m or more.
    o Ground movement as the surface unliquefied crust breaks and is jostled by the earthquake shaking (analogy is that of ice floes on the sea).
    o Ejection of sand and water from the pressurised liquefied layer(s).
  • lateral spread along any change of slope such as terrace risers and river banks, which may result in permanent ground displacement of 1.5 – 2m at the “free” face (ie the bank) and measurable displacements up to 300m back from the bank.
The majority of the ground movements will occur during and for a few hours following the earthquake. However, in some soils it takes many days for the excess pore water pressures to dissipate. This means ongoing creep of both lateral movement and settlement can occur for one to three weeks after the event.

Once the groundwater pore pressures have returned to normal, the sand is essentially back to its pre-earthquake state. As such it can be built on again, in a similar way as before, except that it must be recognized that sands which liquefy in one earthquake have been shown to re-liquefy in a subsequent earthquake; it's not a one-off phenomena which can now be ignored .

Cowlishaw Street - School Traffic and Parking

As has been discussed at recent meetings the problems of school traffic and parking are increasing. This does not bode well for 2011 and beyond when work is being done to remediate land and repair or rebuild houses.

Gail and Sharyn will be visiting houses in the street later this morning with a petition to the Council on this issue.

Any questions or whatever please give Gail a ring or e-mail me at this e-mail address.

Friday, November 26, 2010

MP visit to EQC's Christchurch Headquarters

MP Nicky Wagner visited the Christchurch Headquarters of EQC earlier this week. Her website has a record of her visit along with photographs and a description of how the Christchurch EQC operates its 6 day week of 15 hours per day.

There are no answers, or much comfort, to be found in the article however it does help confirm the size of the problem.

The article can be found here.

Earthquake Rates Relief - CCC double dipping? Part 2

In the Backround section of their rates relief page the Council justifies a partial remission of rates in this way:
Christchurch City Council does not normally waive or remit rates payable on properties damaged during a rating year, such as by fire. This practice is based on the fact that rates are legally payable and that insurance cover provides alternative accommodation for the owners/occupiers of that property.
The silent assumption in this statement is that insurance cover for alternative accommodation will not be subject to any reduction for the rating component.

Depending on who your insurer is there may be a problem coming up. For example, if you have a contents policy with AMI there is a section headed Temporary Accommodation where Clause 1, part b. says
"We will deduct your normal household expenses from the amount we pay you."
What are these normal household expenses? 

It is possible/likely insurance companies will classify the rate component of rents to be "normal household expenses" and deduct it from the compensation paid. The fact that the Council has already dipped its hand into your pocket may not sway the insurer.

To summarise it would appear that the Council wants 60% of the rates to be paid, figuring the insurer will provide full alternative accommodation. The insurer may not pay the rates component of accommodation costs because these are classified as normal household expenses.

I have asked the Council whether they have checked with all insurers to see if the accommodation support they provide includes a component for rates. I am also exchanging e-mails with AMI over this.

Will keep you posted and, again, if I've missed something fundamental here, please let me know.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Earthquake Rates Relief - CCC double dipping? Part 1

There seems to be an element of Council double-dipping in the way some aspects of the rates relief are being applied.

Take the case of a house that needs to be demolished and rebuilt. For a period of time that property will be unused. Clearly the infrastructure services can't be used so there should be no charge for them. Thus 40% of the rates will be remitted.

The balance of the rates remain payable because they are for services still consumed by the residents concerned, as stated by the Council:
Only a small proportion of Council’s services are delivered directly to a property. Water, wastewater, refuse collection and, to an extent, land drainage services are provided directly to properties. Residents and ratepayers access all other Council services such as libraries, recreational facilities and roading remotely from their properties. These are funded through the General Rate and UAGC.
The full text can be found on its website here.

Unless the residents leave the city, or stay with relatives, they will be in accommodation for which they pay rent - and a portion of the rent will go towards paying the rates the landlord incurs on the property. This will include the things under the Council's description "all other Council services such as ...". So, if you are paying at the old address, and also at the temporary address, a large portion of the rates are double-paid.

I have e-mailed the CCC about this, and will post any response that I get.  If I have missed something blindingly obvious, please let me know.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Home Security

The court reporting website mentioned in the previous post has a page on home security. Check it out here.

Looter sentenced to imprisonment

The New Zealand Herald (Auckland) is often the quickest newspaper off the block. This afternoon they reported that a man had been sentenced to 17 months jail for looting (although his sentence included time for other offences).

Less well know (almost invisible really) is the Christchurch website Christchurch Court News which gives a daily account of the comings and goings in the Christchurch courts. They carry the story of the looter as well as the sentencing of another person for shoplifting (the shoplifitng being "doubly bad" to retailers struggling afterr the earthquake).

Government approves $850k to re-survey Canterbury land

This is from a ministerial press release. It appears that getting this sorted is a prerequisite to being able to re-lay pipes, fix roads.
Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson has announced an $850,000 Government approved fund for Land Information New Zealand's re-establishment of critical surveying information in Canterbury following the 4 September earthquake.
Mr Williamson says Canterbury's landscape has changed significantly since the earthquake.
"Re-establishing control of the geodetic network is vital to ensuring that councils and infrastructure providers have accurate information about the land and can get on with rebuilding and re-instating services like roads, water, waste-water and sewerage systems quickly," Mr Williamson says.
Work is expected to be completed by the end of February.
The funding will also support the restoration of coordinate markers vital to hazard monitoring, mapping property boundaries, and re-building infrastructure like telecommunications cables and water reticulation systems.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Police and policing

Early this morning, while pottering around the river, two police cars went slowly past in the space of 10 minutes. It was heartening to see and reminded me of the many calls for a greater police presence.

That thought then led back to a 17 November article in The Press headed: Vandals, speeding drivers add to misery which described the problems of speeding motorists, the tipping over of portaloos, and other antagonistic and anti-social behaviour. As most such articles do, it included a plea for more police action.

Amongst the online comments on the article was one from someone claiming to be a police officer (genuinely so I think). The words are worth reading so here is the bulk of his/her comment:

Red&Blues #12 11:26 am Nov 19 2010

I live in a damaged house & it will probably be demolished so I understand the frustrations that go with that (esp. when a vehicle goes past our place at speed). I have tried my best (as workload allows) to catch speedsters & criminals in your area. We have arrested several burglars on different occasions in the last two weeks on the shifts I have worked, again in your area. There have been many arrests on the other shifts as well since Sept 4. I have caught a number of speeding drivers - both residents and non-residents and missed many as they were on the other side of the river. There does need to be more of a presence but unfortunately we are limited somewhat by staffing numbers & other emergencies across the city - for example an innocent member of the public was seriously assaulted the other night - one of our two-person cars was tied up for at least six hours on that (as well as several other staff for varying lengths of time). I managed to patrol the Avonside area the following shift for about an hour before being called away again to another critical incident, then another, then another, then another. I wish I could do more but I can't.

Poor sod, no wonder police morale is low. Anyway, how many police, how many patrols would it take? Look at the size of the various branches of law enforcement there are in Iran and they can't keep a lid on things. Do we want that many enforcers? The lawless behaviour problem is endemic, won't be fixed by more law enforcers, so perhaps we need to look at taking the initiative through neighbourhood watch?
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Insurance cover for damage during repairs

From Alan Cooke

After receiving my cheque for contents from EQC I have approached the Insurance Company and apparently any damage caused by repairers to household contents will be a claim to one's own Insurance Company.

Earthquake Rates Relief

The CCC today, via its Stronger Christchurch Recovery eNewsletter, released information on the level of rates relief available for residential and business properties.

The information, along with a rates relief application form, is available on the Council's website here.

For residential properties the rates and criteria are:
The residential package is to remit:
•40% of rates for residential properties on land requiring remediation by the EQC, from 1 September 2010 until rebuilding has been completed or six months after land remediation has been completed if building has not commenced – whichever is earlier;
•40% of rates for residential properties requiring demolition and rebuild by insurance companies, for the period which the house is unable to be occupied;
•40% of rates for three months to those properties that remained unable to connect to the reticulated wastewater network at 31 October 2010;
This package applies to churches and other non-rateable properties.
A link to an application form is on the page.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nicky Wagner MP - November update

Nicky Wagner has a website which can be found here.

One part of her website is dedicated to post-earthquake issues and is updated from time to time. The most recent update occurred today and you can find it by clicking here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Community Law Canterbury - free law help

Community Law Canterbury is a free law help and advice service. As they describe themselves on their blog: 
"Community Law Centres are non profit organisations which work to reduce and remove barriers to the law. Community Law Canterbury services provide quality, free legal help to people in Canterbury who face barriers in accessing justice."
"Community Law Canterbury has prepared factsheets in the area of insurance, employment and tenancy.  Feel free to download these from below.  If you require any further information or would like some advice on these issues please contact us."
I can anticipate there will be some who find themselves in difficult or harrowing situations resulting from the way claims are assessed and the decisions made by assessors (EQC and the insurance companies). This service may become invaluable for some residents of Canterbury, including us.

The three Earthquake Factsheets covering Insurance, Employment and Tennancy issues. They can be found here.
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Help and Support - Massey University School of Psychology

Massey University has a Joint Centre for Disaster Research which is a joint venture between Massey University and GNS Science, within the School of Psychology at the Wellington Campus of Massey University.

On their site is down-loadable material aimed at equipping us for the needs of children, adolescents and adults.

The website is here.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Roading and Street Improvements

The CCC has an Infrastrucure FAQ that addresses a number of issues. It doesn't contain a great deal of specific information but is a starting point. One question that provides an important possibility for the future regards roading design (think peak traffic, road use, and parking).

Q. Can local communities have a say in how the area and roading will look like or will it have to be exactly as it was before? Can we take the opportunity to improve the area and will there be consultation around that?
A. Yes the negotiations with contractors are underway so work can be started. There will be some consultation with residents prior to streets being repaired.

The FAQ is available  here:

Unfortunately the document is undated and doesn't have a review date so its ongoing relevance can't be assessed.
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Real Estate - buying and selling

Harcourts real estate held a property seminar in early November to address post-earthquake concerns of potential buyers and sellers.  Some of the presentations were recorded and viewed on the harcourt's page here.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Help and Support - Canterbury Webhealth - Part 2

Also on the Canterbury Webhealth website is a list of trauma, stress and psychological resources. Included is a link to a document on helping children cope with a stressful event. The link is here - scroll to about halfway down the page.
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Help and Support - Canterbury Webhealth - Part 1

Canterbury Webhealth is a web site to "... assist you to find health and social services in an easy and timely manner. Webhealth is a not-for-profit organisation, with a strong focus on mental health, physical health and wellbeing." It is sponsored by the Canterbury District Health Board. It has a earthquake page dedicated to providing "Useful Information".

Some parts of the page are lists of links to other useful pages as well as original material. The following is an extract from that page:

Free Counselling - Christchurch

The Ministry of Social Development have contracted the following agencies to provide free trauma support counselling in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquake.
Victim Support 0800 842 846
24/7. Telephone contact. People may need to leave their details and a volunteer will ring them back.
Samaritans 0800 726 666
24/7. National telephone listening and support service staffed by volunteers.
Lifeline 0800 543 354
24/7. Trained telephone counsellors.
Relationship Services Whakawhanaungatanga (03) 366 8804
Trained counsellors. Available by phone until 8pm.
Face to face counselling is available at the ChCh office (Level 5 CTV Building, 249 Madras Street) on both a walk in and appointment basis - 8am to 8pm.
Salvation Army (03) 377 0799
Available until 8pm to make appointments for face to face counselling sessions.
Ministry of Education (03) 378 7300
8am to 5pm weekdays. Counsellors available to parents and schools to discuss the trauma reactions of children.
St Johns Caring Caller Service - volunteers who can make daily phone calls to people at home to provide support. Email referrals to: jacci.tatnell@stjohn.org.nz
WorkPlace Support  http://www.workplacesupport.co.nz/ Support is available for not- for -profit community based social service organisations requiring support for employees who are impacted by the ongoing effects of the Canterbury Earthquake. This support is being provided through "Workplace Support" sponsored by MSD. Or email Trauma Counsellors are also available at the new recovery assistance centres.

The extract above states that it was last updated: 21/10/2010. No doubt some of this will change over time so it would be best to check the website if you want to contact an agency. The web site is here. 
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Government Support Services

The Ministry of Social Development has a webpage devoted to support services available to individuals and families affected by the earthquake and subsequent events. To go there click here.

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