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Monday, 24 January 2011

Fletchers FAQ - Part 2: quality assurance process

Item 9 in the FAQ starts off with this:
It is a straightforward project management process.
  • The scope of work to be carried out on each property will be agreed between EQR and the homeowner, and aligned with the EQC initial assessment.
As described on their web page on the repair process (here) , Fletchers will visit a property to create a scope of repairs (work) and to have the scope of work agreed between Fletchers and the homeowner. The scope of work will then, somehow, be tied in with the EQC assessment. Some issues arise from this.

The first set of issues relate to the extent to which the homeowner(s) will be an informed party to the scope of work agreement. For many of us the description of the damage observed, and the proposed remedies, will be unknown territory.  How is this to be handled, keeping in mind that Fletchers are EQC's agent in all of this?

Who will help the understanding of homeowners who find their situation complex, especially if it involves both structural and land damage?  How much time will be available to consider the scope of work? Will it be a case of part of a day spent on inspection, followed by discussion, then a request to provide written consent agreeing to the proposal? Will some days or weeks be available to consider the scope of works? Will there be resources available to help understand this process? What avenues are available for disagreeing with a scope of works?

Ultimately, in the absence of some form of specialist assistance, many will be signing without informed consent.

The second issue in some ways precedes the first. If some months and many quakes have elapsed between the time of the initial assessment and this agreement process, it is unclear how useful it will be. How easily will the current situation be aligned with the much older picture formed by EQC's assessors? The issue was dealt with in a bit more detail in an earlier post on this blog (14th of January) entitled  Accuracy of EQC assessments with the passage of time (click on the name to go to the article).

Finally the idea that this is a "... straightforward project management processs." is inappropriate in the homeowner context of earthquake rebuilding. The relationship between EQC and Fletchers does fit this description: they are two agencies with sufficient expertise and resources to operate in such a commercial environment. Most homeowners are very unequal partners in this process, they lack the skill, knowledge, resources and perhaps opportunity to participate in a way that protects their interests.


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