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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Avonside Girls High School update

Demolition work is expected to start on the Stevensons Block at AGHS on Monday.
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Legal Q & A on Red Zone questions

CanCERN and Community Law Canterbury have worked together to identify and answer many of the major questions facing Red Zone residents. The result is a fact sheet produced by Community Law Canterbury covering a range of issues including:
  • valuation of buildings and land
  • cross leases and unit titles
  • repairs and the Red Zone
  • querying assessments
  • obligations to lenders where there are mortgages
  • insurance policies and insurance companies
  • tenancy issues.
There are a few things to note:
  1. Some of the information is not good news for those whose properties are undervalued. This may, or may not, be your situation. A careful reading will help you get a clearer idea of where you stand in regard to the 2007 valuation.
  2. A few questions have not been been answered because the issues involved are financial or political rather than legal (e.g. the availability of affordable land).
  3. The document contains general information; it does not constitute legal advice.
  4. The intention is to continue this process and so there will be later documents with additional information.
The fact sheet is available on Google Docs here.

NOTE: Google Docs is not the easiest place to read a document so if you have difficulty try downloading it first.
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - Stairs and Access Ramps between Floors in Multi-storey Buildings

From the Royal Commission's website:
This report, which was written by Des Bull of Holmes Consulting Group, indicates that in the light of the damage sustained to stairs and access ramps in the Christchurch earthquakes a review is need of the way in which these items are designed. It is clear that inadequate allowance has been made in the past for the relative movement that occurs between floors in a major earthquake. This report should be of interest to practicing structural engineers.
The report notes that in both previous and current design standards the displacements that stairs must sustain in a major earthquake are under-estimated. A method of determining the required design displacements for stairs in new buildings is outlined and an approach for assessing the required displacements for retrofit of existing stairs on the basis of existing design calculations is given.
The report pays great attention to the inadequacy of designs for stairs and ramps. The types of shortcomings and failures that can result are described and illustrated. The conclusion of the report reads:
The methods of calculating inter-storey drifts for structural elements, that span between adjacent floors, given in current and previous new Zealand structural design standards has lead to an underestimate of required displacements that need to be accommodated at supports of stairs and ramps, in major earthquakes. Experience in the Christchurch earthquakes has shown that this has been a major factor in the collapse of a number of stairs and the damage of many others.
The report is here.
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Earthquake Royal Commission - Foundations on Deep Alluvial Soils

From the Royal Commission's website:
This report prepared by Associate Professor Misko Cubrinovski of the University of Canterbury and Ian McCahon of Geotech Consulting Ltd discusses the nature of the soils in the Christchurch CBD, and their susceptibility to liquefaction.
It describes the effect of liquefaction in the Canterbury earthquakes on CBD buildings of different foundation types, identifies foundation types and land improvement measures suitable for buildings on deep alluvial soils, and discusses the importance of appropriate field investigations and the need for a holistic design approach that takes into account soil conditions, and foundation and structure systems.  The report commences with a short Executive Summary.
The report has been broken down into the following sections, which can all be download from here.
  • Title and authors; executive summary; introduction; chapter 2 general characteristics of seismic response of deep alluvial soils. 
  • Chapter 3 Christchurch CBD soils
  • Chapter 4 Observed liquefaction and response spectra in CBD during the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
  • Chapter 5 Typical causes of failure in the CBD; chapter 6 comparison of extent of liquefaction between 2010-2011 earthquakes and a Mw = 8.0, alpine fault event.
  • Chapter 7 typical methods of founding buildings which would avoid such failures; chapter 8 conclusions; acknowledgements; references.
The following is an extract from the conclusion in Chapter 8:

Earthquake Royal Commission - Structural Design for Earthquake Resistance: Past, Present and Future

From the Royal Commission's website:
The Commission has received a report written by Associate Professor Rajesh Dhakal of the University of Canterbury. The report, which was offered to the Commission, provides an indepth discussion of the way in which the current approach to seismic design has developed, and how this may change in the future.
It is particularly relevant to Issues 3(a) and 4 of the issues identified by the Commission in calling for expressions of interest in the inquiry, and will be considered by the Commission in that context.
The report is technical in nature and will primarily be of interest to structural engineers.
The 34 page report, which is very technical, is here.
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Earthquake Royal Commission - Preliminary Observations from the Christchurch Earthquakes

From the Royal Commission's website:
John Hare, in consultation with other structural engineers, has put together a list of observations made on the performance of buildings in the Christchurch earthquakes.  The list includes suggestions for factors which should be considered for amendment in design codes/standards, together with a number of aspects which require research and structural testing to be carried out to enable engineers to understand why the behaviour of structural elements in the buildings differed from that observed in structural laboratories.
The report has been studied by the management committee of the Structural Engineering Society (SESOC) and appreciable inputs were obtained from Charles Clifton, Greg McRae, Mark Batchelar, Mike Newcombe and Gordon Hughes.
This report should be of interest to practicing engineers and students interested in structures.
The report is technical, very heavy going, and can be found here.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

CERA - geotech videos on sink holes and foundations

CERA have released two more videos with geotech engineer Jan Kupec. In these videos he gives explanations of:
  • sinkholes and poses questions about them ( e.g. will they affect the land or the house later on?)
  • options for rebuilding - providing a safe and secure foundation for houses in Canterbury by first looking at how houses fail and then what is needed to prevent this happening.
The videos can be found by clicking on the name of the subject you are interested in.
In the Options for Rebuilding video Jan Kupec frequently refers to a booklet Guidance on house repairs and reconstruction following the Canterbury earthquake available from the Department of Building and Housing. You can download it from here.
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Red-zone tours for RWC media

Yesterday's Press had an article about plans to give Rugby World Cup media representatives tours of the Red Zone. The online version of the article is here.

The lucky journalists will be taken to see the inner city Red Zone, AMI stadium, and the RWC 2011 fan zone. There will be three tours during September, coinciding with visits by the England, Wallabies and All Blacks teams. Each tour will be accompanied by the Mayor. The emphasis is on keeping a positive focus on what is seen, and managing what they see and write about.

The following is the Mayor being quoted in the article.
"Global press interest" in the Canterbury quakes as a side story to the World Cup was expected, he (Parker) said.
"Our job is to ensure the story they leave with is maybe not the same story they came here imagining they might do," he said.
"It's all about managing the interest of the media and helping them to focus on the remarkable recovery.
Of course there is more to Christchurch of 2011 than the three destinations mentioned. The positive story of a remarkable recovery is some way off for many in that other Red Zone, plus the tens of thousands living a damaged existence in the Green Zone. And for those who have had to leave.

Christchurch is a small village. There will be people here who have personal connections with media from the outside. Maybe they would like to encourage them to take a wider visit, so the whole story can be told. Both the BBC (here) and The Australian (here) have worked hard (especially The Australian) to do this. Perhaps there are others who will prefer to be guided by their journalistic instincts rather than be managed by corporate and official minders.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

EQC liability update

EQC have added a page to their FAQ to provide an update on their increased liabilities. The following issues are addressed:
  1. How much has EQC's liability increased?
  2. Will the increased estimate affect EQC's ability to pay its claims?
  3. Will this new estimate affect the rebuild?
  4. Why was EQC's previous estimate so much lower?
  5. What are the main factors behind the increase?
  6. What are the implications for the Crown's finances?
  7. Can you rule out the figure changing again?
  8. Who pays if the Natural Disaster Fund (NDF) is used up?
  9. Who pays if there is another event?
  10. What does this mean for the overall earthquake damage bill?
  11. What does this mean for the Government's share of the earthquake damage bill?
  12. Will the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund be enough to fund the recovery?
  13. What audits/checks have been or will be done on this actuarial estimate?
  14. What is the Government doing to allay any concerns reinsurers might have about writing cover in New Zealand?
  15. What does the new estimate mean for insurance in Christchurch?
  16. What is the size of this disaster compared to other disasters?
  17. What progress has been made in the earthquake recovery process?
These questions and the answers are here.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Choosing a Red Zone option & taking on your insurance company

Janine Starks, writing for interest.co.nz, has a piece for Red Zoners contemplating taking the government offer.

She writes that there are a number of dimensions involved that need to be investigated, including pursuing your insurance company for a rebuild and challenging any attempt to declare a Red Zone house repairable. This is going to be particularly important for those with mortgages.

Areas covered by the article include:
  • Red Zone blind spots (challenging attempts to declare a house as repairable)
  • Should damaged land trigger a full replacement claim?
  • Fighting for replacement value
  • Mortgage repayment holiday
The article is here.
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Canterbury insurance embargo

The website insuranceNEWS.com.au have produced an article analysing what is currently happening with insurance cover in Canterbury, and what the future might hold for: the long term availability of insurance, the type and amount of cover available, the size of excesses, and the cost of premiums.

It is an interesting read whether you have household or business insurance. The article is here.
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State Insurance update

State Insurance has added more earthquake information to their website. The information covers newspaper advertisements placed by State for their Red Zone and Green Zone customers. The web page is here.

There is also a new Earthquake Claimant Letter (dated 29th of August) that contains information on:
  • what is happening for Red Zone claimants
  • what is happening for Green Zone claimants
  • insurance on houses that are being repaired or rebuilt by State
  • the availability of home and contents cover in Canterbury for existing and new customers
The newsletter can be downloaded from here.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Wednesday Earthquake Recovery Forums

Wainoni Methodist Church is hosting earthquake recovery forums each Wednesday until the 21st of September. The forums begin at 11.30 and continue until 1.00. Lunch is available from 11.15 for a gold coin donation.
The dates and speakers are:
  • Wednesday 31 August - Financial Advisor and Planner - David Weusten
  • Wednesday 7 September - Insurance company representatives - IAG, AMI, AA, Vero, Tower
  • Wednesday 14 September - Lawyer and Managing Director of Community Law - Kevin Campbell
  • Wednesday 21 September - CERA General manager - Michelle Mitchell
Wainoni Methodist Church is located at 878 Avonside Drive, with the easiest access from Wainoni Road (Avonside Drive is closed by Avon Park).
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lets get it done project - help for those with work to be done

The following is from the Rebuild Christchurch web site:
Around 300 volunteers are expected to get to work around Christchurch on the weekend of the 10th and 11th of September.
rebuildchristchurch.co.nz, in association with the Student Volunteer Army and CanCERN, are thrilled with the response to the call for volunteers, who will complete work around the city that may have been started but is not yet complete.
rebuildchristchurch.co.nz spokesperson, Wendy Davie, says the weekend is ideal, for example, for elderly residents who may be reluctant to ask for help.
If you need help, or know of someone who does, more information on the project is available here.

You can register for help, or volunteer to help, by clicking on the appropriate buttons on the page here.