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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.