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Friday, February 1, 2013

Revised guidelines for repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE, and, in part,  formerly the Department of Building and Housing) has updated guidance on repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes. The guidance covers foundation repairs and rebuilds in the various Canterbury green zone categories. The methods or solutions proposed in the document are not mandatory. The media release is here.

A major irritation, carried over from similar previous material, is the specification that the key audience is: engineers, designers, builders, Building Consent Authorities (BCAs), insurance companies. Once again, those with the most at stake are talked over rather than with.

In the Foreword (p.4) MBIE state that “ (the Guide) gives robust and well-balanced engineering solutions that will reduce the risk of injury to people and damage to homes in future earthquakes.” Fine – so how about making the intended beneficiaries part of the key audience? Why not keep them fully informed about what is an essential health, safety, wellbeing, and family investment matter? For the last two years the credibility of the above-mentioned key audience has been very low based on a widespread recognition of their low levels of competence. More transparency is needed so approaches and competencies can be better monitored.

If the MBIE genuinely feel that the document is not suitable for home owners then how about some effort to produce a parallel and substantive version making clear what is thought to be technically challenging?

The basics and basis of the changes are:

MBIE guidance: Repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes

In January 2013 the Ministry updated and republished guidance on house repairs and reconstruction in Canterbury.

The updated guidance reflects new scientific and geotechnical information and knowledge about the impact of earthquakes and the effects of liquefaction on residential dwellings.

It brings together three separate documents into a single document, colour-coded for easy navigation.

Updates in this version include:

  • appropriate geotechnical investigations
  • repairs to foundations and new foundations in TC1 and TC2
  • assessments of retaining walls for hillside properties
  • chimney repairs
  • repairs to house superstructures, pole frame houses and masonry walls
  • information about repairing and rebuilding foundations in TC3
  • guidelines for the geotechnical investigation and assessment of subdivisions in the Canterbury region.

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