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Saturday, 29 January 2011

EQC suburban geotechnical report - general

While we wait for our local reports it is interesting to look at one for a different location to see what information is provided.

As you read, keep in mind that there will be two reports for each suburb. The first (this series) is a technical report which will outline the data gathered for each area. The second, some time off yet, will be an interpretation/explanation of what the technical stuff means.

The Tai Tapu report (you can get it here) starts off with an introduction that describes its applicability (only for Sep. 4 earthquake purposes) and limitations (released for general information, should only be used for design purposes by those suitably qualified, only useful in the Sep. 4 earthquake context).

The report is divided into the following parts:

   1. Introduction

   2. Project background

   3. Site description
        3.1 General
        3.2 Regional geology

   4. Geotechnical investigations
        4.1 General
        4.2 Cone penetration testing (CPT)
        4.3 Machine boreholes
        4.4 Geophysical testing

   5. Groundwater observations

   6. Laboratory testing

   7. Environment Canterbury information

   8. References

    Appendix A: Investigation Location Plans (PDF 3,200KB)
    Appendix B: Cone Penetration Testing (PDF 2,290KB)
    Appendix C: Environment Canterbury Boreholes (PDF 1,370KB)

Even before you get to the end the conclusion is formed that the document isn't too much use to the average homeowner. Sections 1 - 7 are reasonably general, discussing who did what, and how. The appendices (different numbers and types depending on the locality) are highly technical and, again, not much use to the average homeowner.

We will need to wait for the interpretive reports, due a few weeks after these technical reports, to get any idea of what this data means for us.

Friday, 28 January 2011

EQC have released four suburbs-based geotechnical reports.

Suburb based geotechnical reports are being released by EQC as they become available. The first four were released today. The EQC news release and the four reports can be found here.

Eventually reports will be available for each of the suburbs listed below. The list is from the EQC website and can be found here. It is in alphabetical order, not the order in which reports will be completed or released.
  • Avondale
  • Avonside
  • Bexley & Aranui (completed)
  • Bishopdale, Casebrook & Redwood
  • Brooklands (completed)
  • Burwood
  • Dallington Lower
  • Dallington Upper
  • Fendalton & Merivale
  • Halswell
  • Kaiapoi South (completed)
  • Kaiapoi North
  • New Brighton
  • Parklands
  • Pines & Kairaki Beach (completed)
  • Richmond
  • Southshore
  • Spencerville (completed)
  • Tai Tapu (completed)
  • Wainoni

Brendon Burns - Earthquake update as at 27 January 2011

MP Brendon Burns has released an update summarising what has happened so far and looking at what will/could/should be organised for the short, medium and long term.

The headings in his update are:
  • Recapping on 2010
  • Suburb Geotechnical Reports
  • What Happens Next?
  • EQC’s Project Management Office – Fletcher Building – Earthquake Recovery (EQR)
  • Opting In or Opting Out  (of the Fletchers process)
  • Insurance Companies
  • Christchurch City Council
Even if you are outside the MP's electorate you will find the bulk of the information relevant to your situation. His update can be found here.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

CanCERN - web presence

CanCERN now have a web presence courtesy of CanCERN's web posts and information can be found here.

Their intention is to provide a list of useful links plus information on the actions being taken by CanCERN in lobbying EQC, government, government agencies and the council.

Coffee Under the Red Verandah

A couple of days ago an e-mail arrived from Natalie Absalom, EQR/Fletcher Construction community liaison officer for Avonside (and the rest of the Hagley/Ferrymead area). She had come across the blog and wanted to have a chat.

Chat we did, over a coffee, for an hour yesterday morning at Under the Red Verandah, on Worcester Street. Natalie is keen to be in touch with what is going on, what folk want to know, and to meet those who are in her area. With that in mind she will, if she can, come to our next barbecue (which isn't too far away, maybe a week or ten days). I think this augers well for those who end up on Fletchers books.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Feeling a bit stressed?

By now those of you who had a break are back into work life, with school and university not too far away. It is worth thinking about managing the stresses some will feel when day to day life combines with the ongoing annoyances, frustrations, and perversities of post-earthquake life.

Here are some of the resources available. Click on the name of the organisation to go to the relevant web site. If in doubt, contact one of us.

If it is the weekend, or the middle of the night, try one of these lifted from the Canterbury Web Health page.
  • Victim Support 0800 842 846  24/7. Telephone contact. People may need to leave their details and a volunteer will ring them back.
  • Samaritans 0800 726 666  24/7. National telephone listening and support service staffed by volunteers.
  • Lifeline 0800 543 354  24/7. Trained telephone counsellors.
otherwise check out the following:


  • Massey University a range of downloadable information to help children, adolescents and adults.
  • Ministry of Education - No web site. Ring (03) 378 7300 - 8am to 5pm weekdays. Counsellors available to parents and schools to discuss the trauma reactions of children.

Business people


  • Massey University a range of downloadable information to help children, adolescents and adults.

Ooops - a ticket

Walking the long way home down Retreat road, from the Dallington Dairy just after 5.00pm, there was this police car on the side of the road. It wasn't doing anything, just sitting there with the engine running. As I walked past someone drove along, heading away from the city. Quietly the police car pulled out, lights went on, then a bit of siren. Another driver going too fast. With the flashing police car lights visible at the Dallington end, every car that turned into Retreat road slowed to a funereal pace.

No great shakes in the fight against crime, but a welcome little bit of help to those who suffer every time a fast moving vehicle rattles their home and peace of mind. Thank you.

Fletchers FAQ - Part 3: quality assurance process

Continuing with Item 9, the third bullet point reads:
  •  When the work is completed it will be signed off by the homeowner and the supervisor.
At this point a further major issue arises for homeowner(s): are they sufficiently informed to sign off the project with knowledge and confidence? Certainly, we can sign to say we acknowledge the project is complete, and that we formally take back possession of the property. What can't be so easily achieved is to sign off the project as being completed to the specifications of the scope of works or in compliance with government or local body requirements.

How are we to know that all has been done to the appropriate standards, and met all regulatory requirements? This is not to say that Fletchers (or the project managers used by insurance companies) are not to be trusted, rather it points to the fact that the homeowner(s) continue to be in a difficult position, especially if a dispute about what has been done arises in the future.

In a non-earthquake world life would be simpler. The building of a new houses is adequately covered by legislation; the mass repair of existing dwellings is not. Where buildings are damaged, or being renovated, the work is usually done on a small scale with more input and control by the homeowner.

More information is needed about this.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Small Businesses in Christchurch

New Zealand is a country of small businesses, Christchurch a city made up of a very large number of small businesses.

Fighting to stay in business in a difficult financial environment, facing competition from big rivals who are more often predators than competitors, many of these small business have been in extreme difficulty from the day of the earthquake.

These difficulties are attributable to one or more reasons: damage to premises and/or stock, reduction in business due to access problems in the inner city (earthquake damage and the tram extension), reduction in business due to subdued demand, and cash flow problems because of increasingly slow debt repayment. In the last case, EQC seems to be a major threat to the city's cash flow. 

Despite publicly offering to assist them, government has done little in this regard. Now that we have moved from disaster to recovery, and a delayed and struggling recovery at that, there is less evidence of ground-based ministerial involvement. When was the last time John Key visited? What about Bill English - he is both Minister of Finance and the minister responsible for EQC - what is he doing? As for Gerry Brownlee, what of him? Apart from releasing statistics what is happening? In a press release of 23 December he said:
"It will be a long recovery process for Canterbury and the Government is committed to ensuring a sense of urgency continues throughout." (the press release can be found here)
Where, exactly, is that sense of urgency?

Everyone who is in a position to do something seems focused on delivering endless statistics about the magnitude of the problem, the number of bits of paper that have been processed, requesting and requiring research and reports, plus providing coordinators and mentors and other useless types of support. Few are delivering useful assistance, financial support, or bankable results.

The Canterbury Business Recovery Network have been trying to get this problem sorted. Their blog is worth keeping an eye on as they try to come to grips with a government, National, the party of business and commerce, that is not really helping. Ten million dollars had been promised, and delivered, by government but not much else. They can tell their story better; it is here.

In the meantime we should all go and support a small business. Buy things from the corner dairy, fish and chip shop or burger bar, or any business that isn't part of a large retail chain. Fletchers are trying their best to localise their spending, we can too.

ASB, BNZ, IAG, Lantern, NZI, PSIS - Insurance

Insurance offered by these companies is underwritten by IAG insurance. Information about State Insurance, also underwritten by IAG,  can be found on this blog here.

IAG Insurance has produced a fact sheet for customers, aimed at helping them manage their earthquake claim. It is called Managing your earthquake claim - useful information and can be found here. The date on the pages is 1 October 2010.

The topic headings in the fact sheet are:
  • Claims exceeding the EQC limit
  • Managing claims - the next steps
  • Local council decisions
  • Timeframes
  • Alternative accommodation and loss of rents
  • Temporary repairs
  • Preferred suppliers
  • Useful links
  • Questions?

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.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fletchers update - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -- Part 1

As mentioned in a recent post, Fletchers have made three important additions to their EQC - Helping the recovery in Canterbury website at One of these is the FAQ page with a series of questions that attempt to cover the background and processes of the work Fletchers will manage.

The page is divided into four sections. Each section describes an aspect of the process, and within each section are questions, and answers, that Fletchers anticipate are most likely to be raised. There is a lot of very useful information here, however some of the answers raise more, as yet, unanswered questions.

The section headings and their associated questions are:

Section 1 – General
1. What exactly is Fletcher Construction's role in the earthquake recovery process?
2. Who is doing the building work?
3. What about materials. Who will be the suppliers?
4. You have said Fletcher Construction is acting as agent for EQC. Exactly what is EQC's role?
5. What stage are we at in the project?
6. How long is this project going to take?
7. How is the work being managed 'on the ground'?
8. How are we selecting and screening the contractors?
9. What is the quality assurance process?
Section 2 – Property Owners
10. I understand that EQC has passed my claim on to the Fletcher Construction PMO. When will work start on my house?
11. How is it decided which houses are repaired first?
12. Where are the Hub offices' and what are their contact numbers?
13. What if I have to move out of my house while repairs are being made?
Section 3 – Repair Process
14. How will the EQR repair process work?
15. My house is old and higher specification repairs may be required to meet modern building codes. Will these codes be met?
16. Do I get to approve the proposed repairs before the works start?
17. Can I select my own contractor to carry out the work?
18. Can I instruct the contractors directly regarding what work to carry out at my property?
19. What if I have a complaint or problem during the construction works?
Section 4 – Claim Information
20. Can I have a copy of the drawings, specifications and other technical reports that relate to my property?
21. Can I have a copy of the EQC assessor's cost estimate?
22. How will my excess be deducted if EQR manages my house repairs?
The page in question is available here. 

Depending on the browser you use, and its settings, you may not be able to see all of the questions and all of the answers on the screen at the same time. In addition you may not be able to print them out in full either. If you are keen to do this, and are using Firefox along with Noscript, forbid and all should be revealed. If none of this makes sense to you, our printed copy is available.