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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Holy Trinity Avonside - Annual Fair

Holy Trinity Avonside's annual fair is on Saturday the 22nd of October between 10am and 1pm - wet or fine.

As there is no church or hall the fair will take place in the car park at 168 Stanmore Road (Lychgate Close).  With the car park being used for the fair, you will need to park in Stanmore Road or elsewhere nearby.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Red Zone and a damaged house? Could EQC move it for you, and give you a section?

The doings of EQC are governed by the Earthquake Commission Act 1993. In terms of specifics, the insurance of any residential building, residential land, or personal property is subject to the conditions set out in Schedule 3 (see Sec. 27 of the Act). You can find Schedule 3 in its entirety here, on the website

For the purposes of this post we are interested in Sec. 10 of Schedule 3. The heading of the section is Relocation of building. That section is reproduced in full at the end of the post.

I am not a lawyer, and it will take some legal brains to work out the fish hooks (e.g. getting EQC to agree to use this option), however the wonderful opportunity this would be for some is:
  • you are in a Red Zone with a damaged house,
  • you are a rebuild  repair (below the cap),
  • you get the value of the land,
  • EQC pays the cost of relocation,
  • Fletchers/EQR fix the house.
If the house is over cap, but still a rebuild, then there could be an arrangement between EQC and your insurance company for removal and repair. Seems simple enough, and a good option for protecting the equity of some of the people currently facing the biggest losses.

What about the cost of buying a new section? This is where a lawyer would be very handy - does the second half of sub-section (1)
or, where that site is unsuitable because of damage which it has suffered or is likely to suffer, (shift the house) to a different site determined by the Commission, being a site that is reasonably equivalent in all material respects to the existing site immediately before the damage occurred.
contain the implication that EQC would also provide the land?

It seems so to me, as sub-section (2)(c) says:
where the building is moved to a different site, provide the insured person with a legal right or interest in the different site of the same kind as the right or interest that the insured person had in the previous site; ...
It is a little surprising that neither EQC or CERA have put this forward as one of the choices for those with damaged houses in either a Red or Green zone. Can EQC retrospectively change its policies by removing what might be a preferred option for many? Presumably EQC's re-insurance cover was purchased with a view to this option being used? It must have been, as the zoning concept had not been conceived when reinsurance was taken out.

Any qualified legal opinions out there?

Schedule 3
Conditions applying to insurance under this Act

10. Relocation of building
(1) Instead of paying the amount of any natural disaster damage to, or reinstating, a residential building or residential land, the Commission may, at its option, relocate the building concerned on the same site or, where that site is unsuitable because of damage which it has suffered or is likely to suffer, to a different site determined by the Commission, being a site that is reasonably equivalent in all material respects to the existing site immediately before the damage occurred.
(2) If the Commission elects to relocate a residential building, it shall—
(a) pay all costs of relocation; and
(b) reinstate the building to the same condition as the building was in immediately before the natural disaster damage occurred, except that the Commission shall not be bound to reinstate exactly or completely, but only as circumstances permit and in a reasonably sufficient manner; and
(c) where the building is moved to a different site, provide the insured person with a legal right or interest in the different site of the same kind as the right or interest that the insured person had in the previous site; and, upon provision to him or her of this right or interest, the insured person shall transfer to the Commission his or her right or interest in the previous site.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - on-line document library

The Earthquake Royal Commission have created a document library on their website (here).

Via the library it is possible to access Submissions, Technical reports, and All Documents (the default). Each document has an entry showing:
  • date added to the document library
  • title
  • author
  • category (report or submission)
  • subject(s)
  • buildings referred to (if any)
plus links to more information and to a copy of the document itself.

Access to the Commission's media releases, a good source for establishing what was released when,  is here.

Earthquake Royal Commission - interim report released

The Earthquake Royal Commission has released its interim report (here). It is based upon expert and technical evidence provided to the Commission to date. The Commission has not yet heard private submissions, nor had sufficient time to consider reports on catastrophic building failures, and is still waiting for a report on the CTV building .

The report is a requirement of their Terms of Reference:
Our Terms of Reference specify that this Interim Report should contain recommendations that inform early decision-making on rebuilding and repair work that forms part of the recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes. They also envisage interim recommendations that relate to any measures necessary or desirable to prevent or minimise building failures due to earthquakes in New Zealand.
The Report is made up of the following parts:
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Purpose of the Interim Report
  • Section 1: Summary of Recommendations
  • Section 2: Inquiry Process and Progress
  • Section 3: Inquiry Issues and Recommendations
  • Appendices 1-4
    • Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference
    • List of Advisors to the Royal Commission
    • Concepts Used in Seismic Design
    • Glossary
The Recommendations fall under the following headings:
  • Seismicity
  • Geotechnical Considerations
  • General Performance of Buildings – Unreinforced Masonry Buildings
  • Design Practice
  • New Building Technologies
Section 2: Inquiry Process and Progress contains a list of "Matter and Reports Received and Pending".

The report can be downloaded from here.

Bishop appoints Earthquake Recovery Coordinator

Catholic Bishop Barry Jones has announced that, in partnership with Caritas New Zealand, a role has been created of 'Earthquake Recovery Coordinator' and appointed Matthew (Matt) O'Connell to this full time role.

The earthquake recovery role has been created to work with parishes and communities providing leadership, support and guidance in assisting them in responding to pastoral needs.  There is more information here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Forbes magazine - Post-quake inspections can mislead (Christchurch)

Forbes magazines website has an Associated Press article on how Christchurch's post-quake inspections (Red, Yellow and Green placards), and the rapid assessment process that produced them, led to misunderstandings about building safety.

The article discusses how the rapid system arose (California), how its application can be misunderstood, and where to from here. The discussion is done in the context of the CTV and PGC buildings (both of which were green-stickered).

Some excerpts from the article, which is here:
Inspection reports obtained by The Associated Press under New Zealand public records laws show just how cursory the checks can be.
The problem: People place more faith in the inspections than they should. A green sticker is no indication a building will withstand future quakes, nor does it require a robust analysis of a building's structural health - something that was misunderstood by both building occupants and public officials in Christchurch.
Comments made after the February disaster indicate how much trust was placed in these rapid assessments. For instance, Christchurch Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button told The Australian newspaper that the CTV building had been "inspected by our engineers and declared safe."
Representatives from both buildings told the AP that after the first quake, they commissioned engineering examinations, which concluded the buildings were sound. They wouldn't let the AP review copies of the reports.
The experience may serve as a wake-up call for cities from Tokyo to Athens that rely on the system. California officials have told the AP they plan to make improvements after reviewing what happened in Christchurch, and those changes will likely set the tone for the rest of the world.
An interesting point made in the article by the overseer of the CEMA placard system is that confusion over the meaning of the placards had not been noticed before:
Jim Barnes, who oversees the placard system for the California Emergency Management Agency, also visited Christchurch after the disaster. He said his agency is planning changes based on what was learned in Christchurch.
"We have not noticed this sort of misunderstanding with the 'Inspected' tag before, but now that it has come to light, we can see how it could happen," he wrote in an email.
Is it possible that the litigious climate in the US drives property owners to have in-depth engineering checks made while our ACC legislation creates a more laissez faire environment?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gerry Brownlee on Orange Zone timings

 Gerry Brownlee has issued a media release stating Orange Zones are top priority and that some news will be available within the next two weeks. The media release is here.

Some extracts from the media release. The last one is the closest to being specific:
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has today convened meetings in the residential orange zone with geotechnical engineers and officials in order to get clarity around the myriad of complexities that need to be sorted before rezoning can occur.
Mr Brownlee said he understood the growing frustration of those in residential orange zones, but despite a huge effort to date by hundreds of engineers and officials to find workable solutions the rezoning decisions were proving extremely complex.
"I expect the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to provide an update to all orange zone homeowners on what's happening within the next two weeks," Mr Brownlee said.

Insurance companies dropping out of parts of Queensland

The question has often been floated as to whether insurance companies would withdraw from the New Zealand market, or parts of it such as Canterbury. If the Queensland experience is anything to go by the answer is: yes they might withdraw.

The following extracts are from an article on here.
Lumley Insurance is the latest insurer to withdraw from property cover in north Queensland following big losses last summer.
A Lumley spokesman says the “ongoing volatility and changing reinsurance conditions” in the region have led to a review of guidelines for business in this region.
“Commencing October 15, we will no longer be able to offer household, landlords, fire and perils (ISR and business pack) or contract works for risks situated in postcodes 4737 and above,” she told
Far North Queensland Insurance Brokers Director Doug Olson says property cover is becoming increasingly hard to place, and the region can’t afford any more withdrawals by insurers. Only four major insurers are still writing property business in the region.
There is also a bit about a state government-run insurance office being set up again:
While he hears a continuing loss of insurers working in the region could lead to the re-establishment of a state government-run insurance office, Mr Olsen told “You can’t really blame the insurance companies, knowing what the reinsurance costs are going to be.”

VENUE UPDATE - Orange and White zones CERA protest - 16th of October

The following is from the facebook page associated with the organisers:
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: The Gardens have decided to put a stop to our Protest, they have indicated that we will not be allowed to utilise any area in either the Gardens or Hagley Park as our protest does not fit with their image. Nice of them to let me know so late in the peice, when I thought I had done everything to make it work (I really believe this is sabatage, to make sure it can't happen), when all the flyers have gone out and everything is set up. This will not stop me. I will make it clear on the day to all those who have recieved flyers and show up, that the protest will go ahead as planned in a close but new location. Please can anyone suggest a venue in close proximaty to the Gardens that we may be able to use, or else it will be out on the side walk in front of the Gardens!
The facebook page is

Monday, October 10, 2011

Consultation on changes to seismicity and foundation details for Canterbury

The Department of Building and Housing has called for comments on changes it made some months ago to the Building Code’s supporting documents for Structure. These were made as urgent changes on the 19th of May and, because of their urgent introduction, must be opened up to public comment within six months of the date of introduction.

The changes included:
  • Increased the seismic hazard factor for the Canterbury earthquake region to 0.3 minimum
  • Strengthened the definition of ‘good ground’
  • Required concrete slabs-on-ground to be reinforced with ductile steel mesh which is tied to foundation reinforcement
  • Clarified that foundations on ground that is prone to liquefaction or lateral spread should be specially designed.
Although the DBH has presumed that feedback will come from the building industry, anyone is entitled to make a submission and have it considered. Submissions close on the 31st of October 2011.

Information on making a submission is here. Comments can be made on-line.

Orange and White zones CERA protest - 16th of October

From the organisers. If you want to make contact there is an e-mail address at the end of the notice.

Orange and White Zones Time To Be Heard!!

After constant delays, lack of transparency and lack of compassion, we do believe our communities will not be heard if we do not make it clear that we matter too! Please join us and be heard.

Venue: Armstrong Lawn, Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Date: Sunday, 16 October 2011
Time: 1pm
Email: to express your interest or just show up on the day.