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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: