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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Updated guidance for the repair and reconstruction of homes in Canterbury published

The Department of Building and Housing (DBH) today released a publication Updated guidance for the repair and reconstruction of homes in Canterbury. A PDF copy can be found here. It is an update of a document released in December 2010.

Time will be needed to identify exactly what the changes mean for property owners. From a very quick skim through it appears that, in addition to new material on foundations (both building and patching them), the criteria in this amended document are "less onerous" than in the original version.

As a technical document it outlines what procedures are considered appropriate for various types of houses, the structural damage incurred, and the land category. While it describes what is permitted and recommended, one extremely important issue is only briefly addressed: the obligations of the insurer (EQC or a private insurance company) towards the policy holder.

Irrespective of what DBH may specify as suitable and satisfactory practices and solutions, they can only be applied if they meet the insurers obligations to the property owner. As a minimum these approaches can only be applied if they restore the property (house and foundations) to at least the condition it was in on the 3rd of September 2010. A "less onerous" solution may fall short of meeting this requirement e.g patching something that has cracked or broken is not the same as restoration or like new. 

One area where this tension may arise involves concrete slab foundations in TC1 and TC2 areas (TC3 properties will require site specific investigations).  A particularly common problem with new houses has been cracking of the foundation slab. An economical solution would be to repair these foundations where ever possible. This is addressed in Appendix 4 of the publication.

Research has been carried out overseas on the use of resins and grouts to repair cracks caused by slab shrinkage. The DBH has investigated these solutions and outlines how they could be applied in Christchurch to fix cracks varying between 1 and 50 millimetres or more.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Canterbury Affordable Sections

Canterbury Affordable Sections is an organisation established to:
... facilitate and provide governance for the development of a series of affordable section development projects for Red Zone home owners.
The intention is to identify suitable land that can be subdivided and sold in the range of $90,000 to $120,000 and still be close to the city. You can find more on their website here.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Cardboard Cathedral - to be considered at a council meeting today

The agenda for today's council meeting includes an item (number 55) to consider a location and financial support for the Cardboard Cathedral. Council staff have prepared a report for council accompanied by a recommendation.

The recommendation of council staff is:
It is recommended that the Council:
(a) Decline the request from the ChristChurch Cathedral Diocese for the Council to make available council owned/held land for a temporary cathedral (the proposed “Cardboard Cathedral”).
(b) Resolve not to provide any financial assistance towards the establishment of a temporary cathedral.
It seems ironic that council are keen to have a say on rebuilding the Cathedral yet wish to do nothing to provide interim support. The council meeting agenda is available here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

EQC - changes to urgent repairs process

EQC have announced that from the 1st of January the procedure for having urgent repairs made will be changed. Until now homeowners have been able to authorise their own repairs up to $2,000. From the 1st anyone with urgent repairs MUST contact EQC who will arrange for the work to be done.

From the EQC website:
Urgent repairs are those which ensure the house is safe to live in, secure, sanitary and weather resistant.
However, Mr Emson says with EQC completing assessments and well underway in repairing about 100,000 Canterbury homes, it needs to be able to better manage the repair workload, and customers will now be required to contact EQC to get the work done.
“Emergency repairs will be managed as the highest priority.
“Specialist EQC support staff will assess requests, and where the house in unsafe, insecure unsanitary or not adequately keeping out the weather, we will send someone in to do the work straight away.
“If they can wait, the repairs will be managed as part of the overall repairs.
The EQC media release is here

If you think your house needs urgent repairs call EQC on 0800 326 243

EQC's call centre holiday hours are:
  • Tuesday 27 - Saturday 31 December from 7am - 10pm.
  • Tuesday 3 - Saturday 8 January from 7am - 10pm.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

New central library - complete with free internet and WiFi

Christchurch City Libraries have announced the opening on Monday the 19th of December of Central Library Peterborough. Located at 87-91 Peterborough Street (near Colombo street) it is what was the former VBase offices and store. The hours will be Monday to Friday 9am-6pm and weekends from 10am-5pm.

For those who rely on the library for internet access this will be available, as will free WiFi.

From the library announcement:

What will be at Central Library Peterborough?
  • The temporary library will have a collection of more than 70,000 items, including books, magazines, CDs and DVDs.
  • Family history resources and microfilm newspapers will be available. The Nga Pounamu Maori and the Ngai Tahu collections are also included.
  • The collection features books, a range of new magazines, world language material, music CDs, DVDs, talking books and newspapers. It will cater for all ages.
  • Most of the collection is stock from the Central Library in Gloucester Street. This includes new items, and stock that was in circulation at the time of the February earthquake and has since been returned.
Technology at Central Library Peterborough
  • There will be 22 free computers offering free internet access. Free Wifi will also be available. Printing, copying and scanning facilities will also be on offer.
  • The library will open with new technology, which is being introduced to libraries across Christchurch. New service kiosks will make it possible for customers to issue and return the items they have loaned. Staff will work alongside customers, making it as easy as possible for them to use the new equipment.
Services include
  • Public toilets in the library, including disabled access
  • Baby change facilities
  • Parking outside the library for library customers, including disabled access Printing and photocopying Library computers
  • Scan to USB
  • Services available at all Christchurch City Libraries
  • Christchurch City Libraries events calendar
  • Free wireless internet access
Full details are here.

Private sector investment for failing schools in central and eastern Christchurch.

The Press this morning has an article on National implementing an ACT policy whereby schools that are failing can access private sector investment.

From the Press online
Failing schools in central and eastern Christchurch will be amongst the nation's first to allow private investment, it emerged yesterday.
A newly-agreed ACT-National coalition deal will allow private investment in failing schools and introduce a cap on government spending.
Under the deal announced yesterday, community, religious or ethnic groups, or private companies, will be allowed to operate state-funded "charter" schools.
The full article is here.