Some Christchurch homeowners are saving their damaged homes by taking remedial action rather than waiting to have them demolished, says a repiling expert.
Hamilton-based Repiling Specialists Managing Director Steven Morrow said many homeowners frustrated with delays in the rebuilding process are contacting him to assess their homes.
“Many people are confused about their options and are now doing their own research and getting independent advice from engineers and other building specialists,” he says. “They are realising that they can take the payout from the EQC and organise repairs themselves.”
Mr Morrow was being kept busy inspecting damaged homes and has organised a 16-member repiling crew to be based in Christchurch to meet the increasing demand for work on houses that have shifted from their foundations. He was travelling to Christchurch regularly for inspections.
His crew were repiling four to five quake-damaged houses a week. Many of these homeowners had been told their houses should be demolished.
Earlier this year former engineer and Far North Mayor Wayne Brown, who was part of an inspection team looking at damage to houses in Christchurch’s suburbs, said that repair rather than demolition could save millions in rebuilding costs.
Mr Brown, part of a 12-strong engineering team that inspected house damage in March this year, said thousands of timber-framed houses with damaged brick veneer cladding and roof tiles could be easily reclad with new weatherboards and corrugated iron roofs.
Timber-framed houses that had shifted off their foundations could easily be lifted, shifted and connected to their foundations (“in many cases for the first time”).
“Even those constructed on concrete slabs on low-lying suburbs could be repositioned at least 800mm above ground level on to new timber piles, with connections designed to allow easy unbolting, re-levelling and reconnecting in the event of further ground deforming seismic activity.
“The upshot is that considerable time, money and heartache could be lessened if remedial on-the-ground action is taken instead of shifting people from the suburbs,” Mr Brown said.
Mr Morrow agreed, saying homeowners need to be made more aware of Mr Brown’s findings.
He said timber framed houses had survived the earthquake better and the work involved in repiling them was quite straightforward. He estimated the cost of a repiling job at around $15,000.
A report undertaken into residential housing by Canterbury University engineers after the September 4 quake confirmed that it was houses with concrete slab floors that had fared the worst – with cracks to the slab floor usually being irreparable. On the other hand, houses that had piles and raised timber floors generally suffered much less or no irredeemable damage.
A second replier who is based in Christchurch said his advice to homeowners was to encourage them to be patient and go through the official processes and stay within the system.
The replier, who did not wish to be named, said there was a danger that otherwise they might get the wrong advice and could face a problem with their land down the track.
“I can understand people’s frustrations but these systems are put in place for good reasons and I know the processes that the Government and Fletchers has set up are working.
“The only problem appears to be that a large number of properties are getting ripped down.”