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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Assessing your next home - Homestar

Most in the Red Zones will be looking at buying another home, as will many Orange Zoners and those rebuilding in the Green Zones. Whether this home is a new or existing one there will be advantages in assessing various aspects of the property.

Homestar is a joint venture partnership between BRANZ and the New Zealand Green Building Council. They have a free on-line system that is:
"... a New Zealand home rating and advisory tool that examines a broad range of home performance and resource consumption-related issues and is applicable to both new and existing homes.
The tool helps people assess the intrinsic value of their homes using a robust framework adapted from similar tools throughout the world, based around key indicators of warmth, health and resource performance.
A star system is used to indicate the overall performance of the house and ranges from 0-10. A 10-star rated home is an exemplar house across all areas of energy, comfort, health, water, waste, operation, proximity to amenities and material management."
You can use the system to check where you live now, see how the system works and your property scores. Once the property is assessed, a report containing detailed comments and recommendations is provided. This could come in handy for negotiating a price, or assessing a design plan. The report can be downloaded.

It can also be used to compare two or more properties (or design plans) to see how they compare with each other. Using Homestar's log-in system your evaluations will be saved in case you want to revisit them at some stage.

Homestar is here.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

CERA - Having a say on the Recovery Stratgey

Everyone has until 5.00pm today to make their submission to CERA, on what CERA considers to be the key points for recovery:
  • What is your vision for the recovery of greater Christchurch?
  • What are the priorities for recovery in the next year? Two years? Five years?
  • How can everyone work together towards recovery?
There is time now only to do this via CERA's website here.

I made an on-line submission last night. For what it might be worth here it is. As is often the case there are lots of words so click on the continuation link below to see all of it.

Q. What is your vision for the recovery of greater Christchurch?

For safety reasons a low-rise city with essential, social, business and corporate services and activities distributed across the urban area. A city needs a heart but too much concentration leads to vulnerability. Using the internet as a model it is possible to build along the same lines as long as the communication between nodes is suitably implemented. We need also to mindful of storm, flooding, and tsunami risks. We must not fail to plan for them.

Distributing services and activities also allows for employment and commerce to be closer to where people live and reduce the need for tides of traffic flowing into and out of a central point.

For aesthetic reasons that also bolster safety, greater use of wood will be encouraged. Wood can be used for multi-story buildings, often beautifully so. It is a renewable resource that can be produced in Canterbury as well as the rest of the country.

We should leave most of the physical reminders of the past behind. They are expensive to maintain and potentially dangerous as we still do not understand the long term effects of the shocks to URM buildings and their foundations.
What was great that needs to be brought back goes beyond september 2010. In earlier decades Christchurch was a city of low density and low intensity living. To a certain extent this can be achieved by juggling the need for population growth and the jealous protection of green spaces, especially with the city area, and most particularly where people live.

Also best left behind is the recent passion for developing Christchurch as a tourism destination to the exclusion of the  use and enjoyment of those who live here. Tourism is important, but alienating residents from the inner city renders it irrelevant (hence the growth in malls).

Q. What are the priorities for recovery in the next year? Two years? Five years?

Transport, especially public transport. Many are isolated from the rest of the city because they lack transport, especially safe and efficient transport.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

LIDAR maps of Kaiapoi & Christchurch

The Waimakariri District Council have made available a five page report consisting of aerial maps of Kaiapoi. Each of the five maps shows consequences of the earthquakes in terms of liquefaction, the severity of damage over the area, building damage ratio, height differences (changes to land height) between 2003 and 2011, and ground surface elevation in March 2011.

It can be downloaded as a PDF file from here. A wide range of local information can be found on the Waimakariri District Council's New Foundations website here.

Similar information for Christchurch, but not at the level of detail in the Kaiapoi images (which is equivalent to suburb level), was part of the zoning presentation on the 23rd of June. Prepared by Tonkin & Taylor, it is available as a PDF file here. Also available are PDF copies of the presentations for the areas covered by the Waimakariri District Council (the same report as mentioned above) and Christchurch City Council (here).

For those unfamiliar with the term LIDAR, and what LIDAR is, the following is from the United States Geological Survey:
LIDAR Definition
  • LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology which measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other information of a distant target.
  • The prevalent method to determine distance to an object or surface is to use laser pulses.
  • Similar to radar technology, which uses radio waves instead of light, the range to an object is determined by measuring the time delay between transmission of a pulse and detection of the reflected signal.
For those who want to know more than enough about LIDAR, check out the USGS LIDAR website here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Neighbourhood Support - crime statistics & other information

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence about how much crime there is and where it is occuring. Neighbourhood Support have on their website a Weekly Crime Information page where you can find the latest information. Also available for download is a file with the latest week's worth of crime statistics. The file lists the date, time and street of burglaries of houses and businesses; thefts from cars; and thefts of cars.

The weekly crime information page is here.

Also on the site is a page of the fact sheets listed below. They are here.

 Your home and property
    Who burgles a house and why?
    Reducing the burglar's opportunities
    Home Burglar Alarms
    What to do when you hear a burglar alarm
    Buying Secondhand Goods
    Serial Number Recording
    Consumer Guarantees Act Made Simple
    Reducing the risk of handbag, briefcase and laptop theft
    Reducing the risk of theft from student accommodation

Neighbourhood Issues
    Preparing for the Bird Flu
    Fences and Neighbours
    Neighbours and Trees
    Neighbourhood Problem Solving
    Noise and Nuisance
    Dog Control
    The Ideal Neighbourhood Support Group

Holiday security and driving tips
    Visiting New Zealand
    Holiday Security Tips
    Holiday Driving Tips
    Reporting Bad Driving
    Enjoying the Outdoors Safely
    Hitch-Hiking

Vehicles
    Protecting your vehicle
    The truth about Police speed enforcement
    Drink Driving
    Illegal parking and car towing
    Checking if a vehicle is stolen

Dishonesty
    Cheque fraud
    Credit and Eftpos card fraud
    Identity theft
    Phishing

Law and the Older Person
    Driver licence renewal
    Asset testing for the residential care subsidy
    Making a Will
    Enduring Power of Attorney
    Age discrimination
    Elder abuse and neglect
    Personal Safety
    Rates Rebate Scheme

General
    When to call 111
    Stopping accidental or hoax 111 calls
    Giving a good description
    Witness Forms-
    Shoplifting - Trespass, Kids and Human Rights
    Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use in Young People
    Methamphetamine Clandestine Laboratory Awareness
    Misuse of (BB) airguns
    The age of criminal responsibility
    Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
    Serving a Trespass Notice

Violence
    Armed Robbery
    Domestic Violence Act
    Terrorism Awareness
    Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence
    Family Violence: How friends and family can help
    Recognising when a child or family needs help
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CERA's "My Housing Expo"

One of CERA's first responses to help people in the residential Red Zone is to run a two day expo at the end of the month.

On Saturday July 30th and Sunday July 31st CERA's “My Housing Options Expo” will be on at the Addington Raceway. In Roger Sutton's words (media release is here) it will be:
... a kind of one-stop shop for residents affected by the land decisions.
It will be an opportunity for them to talk to a whole range of organisations in one place, as they consider relocation and property decisions.  Government agencies and local authorities will be there, along with business and private organisations such as insurance companies, the Real Estate Institute, banks, architects and designers.
There will also be seminars covering areas such as building a house or renting, buying a property and organising insurance.
We know that people need to have the full range of information and options available to make the choices that work best for their circumstances. 
This is a great idea, however it is a bit too early because many people don't know their circumstances. One or more of the following issues and situations affect the majority of those the expo is intended to benefit:
  1. the full details of the payout packages have yet to be released (e.g. equity issues, land value, revaluations, the zoning appeal process)
  2. the ramifications of taking either package are not clear, nor of declining them both.
  3. difficulties with insurance companies need to be aired and sorted (reassessing properties previously classified as rebuilds, disputed scope of works documents and costings, pressure on clients to take the first option, mechanisms for dealing with disputes, guidelines/requirements to ensure insurance companies don't delay those wishing to take the second option to push them up against and past the government's deadlines for the payout package, etc.)
  4. there are 10,000 in the Orange Zones and an unknown number in the White Zones who won't know whether the Expo is relevant to them.

Will the expo provide an opportunity to discuss these essential ingredients of the payout package? 

If this is one of a series of similar expos it will be useful. If it is to be a one-off then a disservice is being done to those who are supposed to benefit from this.

It would have been helpful if CERA had contacted a range of community organisations for their ideas on both content and timing. Maybe next time.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Wastewater works - Avonside Drive near Bracken Street, 19 July to 19 August

The following is from the Stronger Christchurch - Infrastructure Rebuild website. It affects Avonside Drive between Bracken Street and Robson Avenue. 
We will be working on a temporary wastewater system in Avonside Drive from Tuesday 19 July for approximately one month.
• This work will take place between 7am and 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday. The work is expected to finish by 19 August 2011.
• We are repairing wastewater services for properties between 294 to 336 Avonside Drive.  This work involves installing temporary pipes and in-ground tanks where sucker trucks will be used to remove waste contents.
• The work will result in increased noise and vibration levels.
• The work will not impact on current water or power services.
• There will also be no right turn from Bracken Street into Avonside Drive during this time.
• During this period of construction there will be special cordons around construction areas for safety.
• Any existing wastewater service will be temporarily interrupted when we connect private laterals to the temporary tank system.  Residents will be advised of this ahead of time.
• All works are subject to favourable weather and on-site construction conditions.
• If you have any questions about this work please contact the MacDow Fletcher Infrastructure Rebuild Team between the hours of 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday on (free phone) 0508 718 719.
The full notice is here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Unbanked EQC cheques

EQC has issued a news release encouraging those who have unpresented EQC cheques to bank them. As at the beginning of this month $1.9 m worth of claim cheques had not been banked.

If claimants are holding on to a cheque because they disagree with the assessment that has been made EQC have said:
“Some people are querying their assessment and they believe that by cashing the cheque they have accepted the decision made by EQC. This is not the case,” he said.
“If anyone feels our assessment is not correct they can be reassured that they can continue to talk with EQC to resolve the situation. Banking the cheque will not affect the final settlement amount and it is particularly important that people have the money, at what may be a difficult time for them.”
The full release is here.
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