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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Street update

Retreat road is closed because of flooding and fissures at the lower end. Cowlishaw Street is closed at the top end. Access to Avonside Drive from Woodham Road is now available (thence in to Cowlishaw Street and Chaddesden Lane). For the moment Swans Road bridge is open despite being damaged.

As at 12.00 noon still no utilities.

Paul has more regular access to the internet than I do so contact him if you can.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Hi folks

Hi folks - in our area we are down (no power, water, sewer or telephone) but still going.

It may be a few days before there is another post but I can tell you the damage is greater but, so far, no one hurt.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Opting out from the EQR/Fletchers process

NOTE: This post has been updated - see here

On the 19th of February there was a post on having repairs done by EQR/Fletchers (here). Some people may want to opt out of that process and take responsibility for their own repairs.

EQC, on their blog site (here), have outlined what is involved in opting out. As before the following has been taken direct from the February 18 post on the EQC blog, with changes to the layout into a bullet point form. None of the words, structure or meaning have been altered.
"If ... you wish to proceed with opting out we need to be satisfied repairs are correctly completed to your property. 
  • You will need to obtain a fully detailed quotation from your builder.
  • This quotation must cover the same areas as those detailed on the scope of works completed by the EQC estimators.
  • The quotation must be submitted to EQC for approval before proceeding with any repair work.
  • When acceptance of the quotation has been given, the builder may commence the repair work.
  • It is important to note that you will have to ensure that all repairs are carried out to a satisfactory standard and must comply with the Building Act.
  • Any disputes regarding non-performance of the builder or substandard repair work will lie with you."
Not mentioned in the above is the discovery of additional damage or cost over-runs. Basically you are on your own. If the job turns out to be more complex and/or more expensive than originally thought, the problem is all yours. EQC will not provide support or more money. If the contractor does not meet the necessary compliance standards then you are stuck with sorting the problem out. If the contractor takes forever, or goes bust, it is your problem. 

My opinion, for what it may be worth, is that opting out is a high risk proposition. If you are interested in it, check around. Don't just check up on the contractor, check also with your bank (if you need a mortgage - will they give you one? will they cover you for cost over-runs?), with your insurance company (will they cover the property while it is being repaired?, will they insure it afterwards?), and get a lawyer to check the contract.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Accelerated aging and deterioration of homes awaiting repair

Gail and I went to a local CanCERN/Avonside Community meeting at the Scout Hall this evening. The meeting's purpose was to provide updates on various activities, and identify some important local and more global issues.

One significant issue raised was that of home maintenance while waiting for repairs to be done. The example given was that of a wooden villa in need of significant repairs. As it is in a Zone C area, where some of the dams are to be built, nothing is likely to happen for at least 2 years. Even homes in B zones, where they are at the back of the queue for repairs, will face this issue

Question - what maintenance can be done in the meantime? If left as it is (and many, many homes are in the same situation) the existing damage will allow significant accelerated aging and deterioration to occur. If important maintenance is needed, who will pay for it? EQC are quite clear that they will only pay out on small permanent repairs (under $2,000), and then only if they are urgent.

Perhaps this is something for EQR/Fletchers to take the lead on, and the insurance companies encouraged to follow.

CCC - Extraordinary Meeting on the Earthquake

The CCC have a web page with information about the various community board, council committee and sub-committee meetings, along with the agenda for each meeting, and copies of the minutes. The agenda is made available well in advance of the meetings, and the minutes some time afterwards. The page is here.

Tomorrow night there is a meeting of the Christchurch City Council, being an Extraordinary Meeting on The Earthquake. The agenda, as published on the council's website, 9.20pm this evening, reads (I have bolded the last line for emphasis):






I'm not sure they have quite got the idea of communicating what is going on.

EQR/Fletchers have updated the News page of their website.

Mostly it is the addition of a number of historical news items, with links to the relevant web sites or documents. It is useful to the extent that it provides access to material relating to the EQC and Fletchers relationship and activities.

Of more immediate note is a news release dated 18 February giving an update on the EQR/Fletchers project. Pretty much a PR release. The News page is here.

Accommodation support when the insurance money runs out.

Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee released details of the accommodation support package late last week. You can find his press release here.

The Temporary Accommodation Financial Assistance will be:
  • $180 a week for a one-person household
  • $275 a week for a two-person household
  • $330 a week for households of three or more people.
Those needing the support can apply from today at one of the four Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service offices at:
    • Work and Income, 231 High Street, Christchurch
    • Linwood Community Link, 154 Aldwins Road, Linwood, Christchurch
    • Papanui Work and Income, 7 Winston Avenue, Papanui, Christchurch
    • Waimakariri Earthquake Hub, 24 Sewell Street, Kaiapoi
They can also be contacted on 0800 673 227 and, at some stage, a satellite service will be provided for residents in the Selwyn district.

More information about the package can be found at the dedicated website One part of the website outlines the help available for those looking for temporary accommodation:
The Temporary Accommodation Service will maintain a list of available properties and will put homeowners in touch with landlords according to their housing needs.
MP Brendon Burns has released a statement on the package here.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

EQC - Interpretative Geotech Report for Tai Tapu

As with the previously released interpretative reports, the Tai Tapu report consists of 8 pages of text followed by references, maps and diagrams. The report is readable, and worth the effort. The report is here.

For now, the only part of the text immediately relevant to us homeowners is in Section 7.3 Reconstruction Considerations - Land (page 6 of the report). Also of interest is the Section 9 Summary of the report (page 8, reproduced in full below). In reading the material please keep in mind that I am not a geotechnical specialist.

7.3 Reconstruction Considerations - Land

Future risk of land damage

In Section 7.3 - Land we find out whether the land is at greater risk to earthquake damage than before 4 September. The ideal answer is that it is not.  For Tai Tapu the report says:
In terms of Section 106 of the Resource Management Act 1991, and Section 71 of the Building Act 2004, we consider that the risk of land damage due to a future seismic event is sufficiently low that building consents should continue to be issued for residential developments within the subject area in accordance with existing procedures.  
Good news and, my assumption, no need for an adverse comment on a LIM report.

Foundation design for repairs and rebuilding

Section 7.3 - Land also discusses the need for any special foundation designs for repairs or rebuilding. All land in the area that had previously been determined as acceptable for residential building, has now returned to that condition:
Therefore properties requiring repairs and rebuilding should be subject to the normal foundation design, assessment and consenting requirements as determined by the local council building regulations and Building Act 2004. It needs to be recognised that the land has previously been determined by the Council as acceptable for residential building development and the ground is no less resistant to damage now than it was before the Darfield Earthquake.
Properties with land damage

Section 7.3 - Land also covers property with land damage. In the extract below I have underlined the bit that will have relevance to those of us with land damage. 
Some earthquake related land damage has resulted in ground surface disturbance (such as settlement and cracking of the surface crust), which may require minor surface levelling and recompaction before building repairs and rebuilding commences. Some further limited geotechnical input will be required to confirm that the surface crust on an individual property provides adequate bearing capacity for the static case and provide recommendations for foundation design to improve future seismic performance, where appropriate.
9   Summary
"The results and interpretation of the currently available site investigation data indicates the following:
  1. The subsurface materials which underlie the Tai Tapu subject area generally comprise sands and silts and are assessed to have generally returned to their pre-earthquake condition.
  2. As the materials beneath Tai Tapu have not substantially altered as a result of the Darfield Earthquake, the susceptibility of the ground to liquefaction under future seismic shaking is considered to be similar to, but no worse than, the pre-earthquake condition.
  3. In some areas, earthquake-related land damage has resulted in ground surface
    disturbance (such as settlement and cracking of the surface crust), which may require minor surface levelling and recompaction before house repairs and rebuilding commences.
  4. All repair and rebuilding works should be undertaken in accordance with the guidance provisions set out by the Department of Building and Housing where appropriate and in addition to any normal foundation design, assessment and consenting requirements as determined by the local council building regulations and the Building Act 2004."

Earthquake Recovery Briefing, 19/02/11

I went to this briefing on behalf of our residents' society. Christchurch City Council will send out minutes but here is a quick view of issues raised during the 5 hour meeting.

Need for a Recovery Programme: there was widespread concern about the lack of a timeline for repairs with milestones and a person responsible for the recovery programme. Gerry Brownlee declined the idea of appointing a Recovery Tsar. Said it needs to be a Council led recovery. Amazingly, the Cabinet quake committee manages to meet weekly but Christchurch City Council is so busy it can only meet fortnightly.

Getting through the Relocation: Ivan Iveala of the Ministry of Social Development has recruited 34 co-ordinators who will work in the hubs, liaising with people who have to move out of their homes while repairs are done. It is their job to help you find alterative accommodation and liaise with government departments/agencies on your behalf. 0800 673 227 or 0800 777 846. The Department of Building and Housing is investigating taking out head leases on properties as temporary accommodation for 'displaced' people, as landlords are not keen on multiple short-term lets. 350 rentals needed for those whose homes need to be rebuilt and 3,500 for those who will have to move out while repairs are being done.

Concerns about Variation 48 of the Proposed City Plan: Variation 48 is a change to the Proposed City Plan for making sure homes are built on a high enough foundation to avoid major flooding. Lianne Dalziel asked to meet with Tony Marryat, the council's chief executive, to discuss this with him before he takes options about it to council on 7th March. If a house is rebuilt to this standard but borders one that isn't being rebuilt, it will mean rainwater will flood from the new house into the lower level repaired house. Chris Ryan of the Insurance Council said insurance companies are worried about Variation 48 and wanted it sorted urgently.

Huge variations in damage assessments: Ian Simpson of EQC agreed that homeowners had received widely varying estimates of damage. He believed that many of these were for houses with concrete slab foundations. When assessments were first done they were thought to be expensive to fix but the Department of Building and Housing has now come up with technological solutions which are much cheaper, which is why EQC's estimate may be much lower than your insurance company's estimate. .

Insurance Companies. Councillor Brougham and Chris Ryan of the Insurance Council said people need advocates to help sort out disputes between EQC/insurance companies. Tom McCready of CanCERN said people in Zone C want their insurers to talk to them collectively. John Lucan of the Insurance Council said the Privacy Act prevents this but people pointed out that it is possible to opt out of the act. Chris Ryan of the Insurance Council said insurance companies wanted a high standard of repairs done so they could protect the capital of houses and continue insuring them in the future. They don't want to see slab foundations slumping 10 years from now because of shoddy repairs.

EQC Payouts affecting Beneficiaries: Lianne Dalziel pointed out that people on benefits were having them reduced because of the interest they were earning on payouts. In effect payouts were being treated like ordinary income. Gerry Brownlee said Cabinet would be taking steps next week to prevent beneficiaries being penalised in this way.

LIM Reports: Lianne Dalziell said that CCC intended putting red and yellow stickers on people's LIM reports from 4th March to indicate the properties were damaged. Brownlee said he would investigate this as remediation work will mean stickers aren't necessary.

Homes without Heating: delays and confusion about getting heat pumps into thousands of homes with damaged chimneys before winter starts. Installers are going off to Australia because they can't find work here, and EQC experiencing delays in getting heat pumps imported. EQC, Fletchers, ECCA to meet to try and get this resolved ASAP.

Policing: tagging, burglaries, theft of whiteware from abandoned houses, theft of builders' materials and domestic violence are increasing, but the projected rise in suicides has not eventuated. Police made a plea for people to clean up graffiti as soon as it appears as it creates a sense an area has been abandoned and leads to burglaries and arson. Also asked that people who have had to move out of their properties keep the grass cut and place tidy to avoid attracting attention. Police going to national executive for more resources next week.

Communication needs improving: several MPs, Council Board members and community groups complained about not being briefed about decisions. The mayor, EQC and other agencies acknowledged this was an issue.

Dams and land remediation: believe it or not, this was a great presentation. Unable to give direct answers, Tony Marryat called on Rod Cameron of CCC Infrastructure Rebuild to take over. He started by saying he wasn't surprised that the CEO didn't know about the timeline because "he has no relationship with his chief executive". Explains a lot. Anyway, Rod says delays are happening because there aren't enough pipe layers and not enough rigs for compacting the soil. He reckons it "will be the back end of winter" before remediation begins and it will take 18 months. I hope he still has a job to go to on Monday.

Resource Consents: a new team has been set up at CCC to handle these. Tony Marryat has told them to do the paperwork after work is completed if need be, rather than letting repairs/rebuild be held up by paperwork.

Business owners: a representative from the Business Recovery group said businesses in inner city struggling and 4 suicides could be attributed to this stress. He asked Gerry Brownlee what help the Government was going to offer. Response was a package would be announced this Friday but it would not contain any tax breaks, wage subsidies or grants.

Earthquake Recovery Canterbury: Murray Sherwin, chair of this dinosaur of a structure which supposedly liaises with all other quake agencies and removes barriers to progress and reports to Cabinet. The only good thing was that they have just set up a website where agendas and meeting notes will be available online.


EQC blog - if you decide to stay with the PMO (EQR/Fletchers) scheme

When the time comes to look at repairs, the quality control and financial security offered by EQC (the PMO - EQR/Fletchers) is unlikely to be equalled by opting out and organising things yourself.

EQC has had difficulty getting itself organised and meeting expectations etc. Never the less they are trying to provide the best possible means of getting claimants back to as good a position as before the earthquakes. Contracting EQR/Fletchers to do the repairs seems to me to be evidence of that. Consider the following taken from the EQC blog (here). I have rearranged the layout but the words and sense are unaltered.
If you decide to stay in the PMO scheme:
  • All building consents and design work will be obtained for you by Fletchers
  • Apart from the statutory excess payable on all claims, there is no cost to you if in completing the repair works the actual cost of repair exceeds the EQC assessment estimate.
  • All work carried out under the PMO scheme will be completed in accordance with the Building Act.
  • Quality audits will be carried out as repairs proceed and at the conclusion of repairs, all Code Compliance Certificates will be obtained and a copy forwarded to the property owner. 
  • All liability around the repair will be covered by the PMO scheme, and any defects in the quality of the repair work will be rectified by the PMO team.
Unless you are in a desperate hurry, why would you want to take the DIY approach? Should you want to opt out then the EQC blog explains what is involved.