High Street closed for 8 years and still counting….

Who would have thought it?  Eight years on from the 22nd February 2011 quake and lower High Street is still closed.

Today is a funny day in Christchurch, everyone is very thoughtful as we consider our changed lives, altered personalities and priorities. We are not the same people that we were pre-quake.  (Who would have thought that I would be an unemployable bum ?  Along with many others).

There is a “don’t bother me attitude” forced upon us by dealing with: recalcitrant Insurance companies,  Government and Council authorities that became our enemy (by imposing their agendas and will upon us).  As well as their being a deep suspicion that every-one is out to get you and make money from your misery or use your situation to their own advantage.  Paranoid perhaps?

Too many deals were done behind closed doors with a lack of consultation with the people concerned.  ie US.

As always in February my thoughts are with those families that lost loved ones and also with those families still struggling to deal with botched repairs and in some cases, not having even settled with their insurance companies.

I have written once before of the cost to the Christchurch economy of the High Street closure.  My current guesstimate is that it has cost the local economy about 110 million dollars. (Back of an envelope calculation).  Was this really the correct way to handle a heritage street?   The answer has to be a resounding NO.

Incidentally I have been watching the building closures in Wellington, there is a steady stream of closures as they are assessed following the Kaikoura shakes.  There is a noticeable lack of nationwide publicity about the issue.  Looks like they are trying to keep the panic levels down. But I would say that!

What is new in High St?

  • We have currently scaffolded our frontage as we do some tidying up of our plaster work.  We are repairing some of the detailed plaster work that we lost with the collapse of our frontage.  It is a bit like trying to put back a jigsaw puzzle with a few bits missing.  We will do our best but it is not a perfect match!

    The plaster work is being repaired and tidied up.


    The view from the top of the scaffold, along the front of the Duncan’s Units. The frontage wobbles!  Lower down the new frontage and canopy is being rebuilt for the Consortium group.

  • The Consortium group is hard at work trying to get their 8 units finished. I note that their roof level is not the same as the other units left in the row.  Weird!  There was an article in The Press 4.2.2019 by Liz McDonald: link Below.


    The back of the Consortium units is looking good.


  • The Unit at 141, next door to us on the right, is still at consenting stage.  Which is great news.  There still appears to be a two tier system at the CCC consenting department.  If you are a large developer, the perception is that you can do what you like.  If you are a small building owner they treat you very differently.  There also still appears to be no over-sight given at the CCC about speeding up emergency repairs. ( As well as there still seems to be no interest in the livelihoods of the surrounding building owners impacted by derelict and abandoned building and endless road works and new “improved” design.)  I note that we now have approximately 50% ? less on-street parking spaces in the CBD post quake.
  • IMG_20171127_093846325

     141 High St, Still looking like it did on the 22nd February 2011


  • On the other side at 135 the foundations are appearing out of the ground. Slowly but surely.
  • The Ace Video building on the left is one of the “Dirty 30’s” and progress with that one is currently unknown. Again a ridiculous situation.


    130 and 135 High St.

  • Further down High Street the Cotter’s demolition is underway. Photo of back below. And the rebuild of the Watson’s building is now taking shape.

The Cotter’s demolition is well underway, only the frontage will be saved.

Ho humm,   8 years on…… I am off to grind some plaster work at the top of the scaffold.  I hope it does not get to 31 degrees today.   My job today is voluntary, unpaid plasterers’ labourer. You gotta do what you gotta do!




High Street Rebuild Saga drags on….8 years

So What is new in High Street?

  • The good news is that the supporting steel is starting to come off the 8 Duncans Units that Consortium owns.  This is massive progress after 8 years.  (Rumor has it that 6 of the 8 units are leased already.) P1010509
  • The screw pile driving has begun on the vacant site next door, at 135 High Street.  13 meters of “bog”, than a shingle bottom, I have been told.  Good!IMG_20181117_111838004_HDR
  • The access situation for our building has gone from bad to worse.  If that is possible.  We note that the CCC  via CTOC (Christchurch Transport Operations Centre) has approved a plan created by: our rebuilding neighbour and Whites Traffic Management, too close off 70% of our frontage for long periods of time over the next year without consulting us.  This includes taking 7 meters of our 10 meter frontage and leaving us a 3 meter walkway on the right hand side of our frontage, (under our other dodgy neighbours frontage), restricting access to our front door and, as far as we can work out restricting access for our tenants upstairs to some mysterious entry method yet to be devised.  We think it may involve a helicopter.  I think not…. watch this space, I am still awaiting consultation….  This saga began 8.10.18…
  • There is increasing unease in the CCC about the lack of progress with the CBD build and the fact that most of us avoid the CBD like the plague. Are they really surprised?
  • I have just wasted a few days doing another submission on Earthquake Prone Buildings.   I do not think that any one in the “Beehive” is listening.  As evidenced by this article a few days ago about a Christchurch Building owner in Dunedin who has been told to:

“Build it or sell it, Christchurch property developer told”


ho hum, another day in a very weird city

ps:  I am watching the Lime scooter saga with incredulity.  Really? 27km per hour on the footpath? I thought that footpaths were for doddery old buggers like me with dodgy hips/ knees/ eyes/hearing etc.  Drat, and I thought I would be safe on the footpath from some kid with fast wheels.  I hate to think what our disabled population are thinking of this idea, they are fast, silent and damn scary.  It does look like a heck of a lot of fun, but on the footpath at 27km, gosh even my mobility scooter does not do 27km,  I wonder if I can soup it up?

High Street Earthquake Saga drags on for 8 years…

What is New in High Street?

The only street in the Christchurch CBD that has been closed for 8 years….

  • Rumour: One of my neighbours has just settled with his Insurance company after 8 years… One of the “dirty 30’s buildings.
  • The Cotter’s building is under going partial demolition, only frontage will be saved.
  • The Peebles/Consortium development is starting to take shape. Rumour has it he plans to finish on the 24th of December….. I wish him luck with that!                             The building has gone from looking like this:

To looking like this….

  • It is a bit of a shame that the Christchurch City Council Building consents department gave permission for this new concrete wall on my new neighbours boundary at 141 High Street.  Why would you let this pass when it completely shades the neighbours outside  downstairs patio area? There really needs to be some sort of mechanism that deals these issues.   It should have been sloped down at a reasonable angle.  Sigh…   (PS I believe this owner has began to look at architectural proposals for repairing this damaged monster).

The new wall crowding out my neighbours patio area…..

The front of the street  still looks as it has done for the last 8 years…. Say no more.


High Street in a 8 year time warp.

  • Much to my amusement Otakaro  (CERA/CCDU/ In drag as Otakaro ie Government) has given $3000 dollars to “a group of property Investors” to pay a consultant to come up with a new name for the area..     The first I heard about it was in the Press on Sat 6th October.

    “This time it is the Innovation Precinct getting a rebrand, with some help from the taxpayer, to reflect the area’s “gritty” character.

    The name Salt District has several meanings – it uses the first letters of its bordering streets: St Asaph, Lichfield and Tuam and can be a shortened version of South Alternative, highlighting the area’s differences from the rest of the CBD.”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the idiots in Government demanded that we get called the Innovation precinct in 2011 approx, now we are re-branding again, Why bother?  Maybe the Innovation Precinct was a stupid name?  he he…  Now we are : The Salt District?   The idea is that it is a gritty area…  probably all the concrete mortar dust in the wind left over from falling bricks.  I will wait and see if this one flies…. Link Here:   https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/107594319/christchurch-innovation-precincts-gritty-new-name-salt-district

ho-hum, I can not get terribly fussed about it.  Some clever wag has sent me a list of comments:   I take no responsibility for their genius…..

  • Have the local businesses who were not consulted about the use of the name SALT been left with a bitter after taste?
  • Is it a case of the Joanna Norris led ChristchurchNZ just peppering the city with ideas?
  • Salt as brand might inspire Lake Grassmere, Saltworks, to open an office or a pond in the area.
  • Will we need balance by naming an adjoining area “Pepper”? There is a real dual branding opportunity ie Salt and Pepper and the local businesses could Push It!
  • I suspect the businesses in the area will follow the advice of the Heart and Stroke Foundations and become proudly “Salt Free”.

All fun and games as usual. Watch this space, after 8 years just maybe we will see some change.




High Street makes some progress…

Whats new in High Street?

Much to our astonishment and delight we have progress in High Street.

  • The building owner next door, on the North side, has finally put his building up for auction. The figure it sold for was double what I considered reasonable considering the repairs needed. ( I was badly wrong!)

It took 7.5 years to get to this stage.  One can not help wonder if the “Powers that be” can not find a better way to deal with these issues.  But that is another story that they are not listening too.

I have done a rough cost estimate of how much it has cost the economy to keep our street closed for the last 7.5 years.  I estimate the loss of turnover of the approximately 16 shops in our units plus residential and offices on the second floor, to be about $15,000,000 per year.   Multiply x 7.5 years= $112,500,000.  Simplistic and inaccurate maths I know.  But that is $112,000,000 plus that has not flowed back into the Christchurch economy for 7 plus years.  Then add into that, the closure of at least 6-7 businesses that did not reopen following the closure of the street, us included,  the loss of equipment, infrastructure and skills, wages etc.   At a very rough guess I would round that figure up to $120,000,000.

The question that has to be asked is?  Why did the powers that be not calculate this figure themselves and make an effort to get repairs under way in this street sooner?

I am not sure that I will ever know the answer.


141 High Street has a new owner.


Hopefully our side wall gets sorted out now.

The new owner has plans to reinstate the building, turning the upstairs into an inner city apartment and the ground floor into retail space.  It will take him about 8-10 months if he really gets moving.

So we have another year to wait before this neighbour is sorted.

  • We also have a wait for the south side owner, but we now have a lovely clear site on our boundary!  Now covered in gravel.  The new plans are at Engineering stage.


  • The Consortium group has started the foundation pour on the North side units. Hoping to be finished by December.

Foundations under way for 8 new Duncan’s Units

  • The “only” fly in the ointment is the Ace Video Building at 130 High Street, that is still on the “Dirty 30” list. The lack of progress with this building defies belief.

Ace Video building at 130 High Street, unrepaired after 7.5 years. At approx 27% NBS ? It make no sense to me at all.

So here we are 7.5 years later, in a closed off street, watching the grass grow.  Be very afraid, this could happen to you Wellington. Hopefully the Powers have learnt what not to do, but I doubt it!

Ho Hum , it’s a lovely day, I am an unemployed bum and I am off to check my possum traps.  Only had 50 so far this year.  Predator Free Port Hills is still a long way off!




Christchurch City Council Building Compliance issues…. again

What is new in Lower High St?

  • We are having issues with the CCC regarding our Code of Compliance.  No,  it is not Structural, or Fire safety, or public safety….  that is too obvious!   CCC Building Consents are refusing to sign off because our Design Engineer, who is slowly retiring, has not renewed His IPENZ registration  (Engineering Society).  As a result of this they are refusing to accept his PS4. (Producer Statement). But Compliance says that the Design Engineer must sign the COC????   Make up your mind guys….

CCC Consents wants us to get the whole 7 years worth of project peer-reviewed by another Engineer.  There are 2 problems with this:  no Engineer in his right mind would review 7 years of paper work  for a “un-reinforced masonry building” and secondly no Engineer in his right mind would sign off on such a building without having inspected all the steel earthquake strengthening columns that are now hidden behind gib,  let alone covered in concrete!

None of this surprises me, as CCC Building Consents have been “difficult” (polite use of words I might add…) to deal with for 7 years, so what’s new?   But there is one problem here, the CCC signed off early this year on a unit in the same building 20 meters away, using the same Engineer with the same expired IPENZ registration.

The question I ask is this:  Is this some new policy that they have devised or is this a new law that has suddenly been concocted or is this revenge for us being a pain in the “neck”?  Or All of the above?

Heritage Building owners, be very afraid, it is not worth repairing your Heritage buildings.  There is no structure or assistance in place to help you deal with these issues..

  • On a happier note:  The Duncan’s Buildings demolition is proceeding quickly.  Only one more party-wall to go.   Its been dusty and a bit noisy but trouble-free.  And a bonus… the front is still standing…..IMG_20180329_113553770.jpgIMG_20180329_113549651.jpg

Ho humm, off to make some more grumpy phone calls to the Building Consents dept…..

NEWS Flash. 9.23am   Change of heart at CCC PS4 now deemed acceptable as is.  Code of Compliance issued.

Christchurch House Buyers guide for Beginners.. Earthquake Houses 101

A beginner’s guide to buying a house in Christchurch.  Earthquake Houses 101.

This was written for one of my sons, in an attempt to save him some grief.  Apologies for the length of this post, this is fraught with difficulty.

I have been watching the ongoing unaddressed issues with “Red Stickered”  and “As is where is” houses being passed off as having had full repairs done. Within 100 metres of my house there are at least 5 houses that I know of that have been “tarted up” and on sold to unsuspecting buyers. They are ticking time bombs. It is an issue that both the CCC and the Hon. Jenny Salesa, Minister for Building and Construction urgently need to address.

Do not get me wrong, some of these houses are repairable,  but they require extensive and in some cases invasive inspections.  The issue is that many inexperienced home buyers are being caught out. The inspections that they are commissioning are often from inexperienced companies with no Licensed Building Practitioners on staff  and no qualifications.  Or the repairs have been hidden behind concrete, plaster and gib board.

Be very careful what you buy.

This list is by no means comprehensive:  errors and omissions accepted. It is only a starting point and not to be relied upon as infallible.  Glossary at end.

Things to look out for:

1. Has it been “Red Stickered”. ie deemed unsafe for habitation. Ring Building Consents at Christchurch City Council, to find out.

If yes, have repairs been done?

It is Unlikely to be insured.  Also if it has been insured it is unlikely to be re-insured.

Run away quickly.
a)  Repairs Consented by City Council? yes/no?  If not run….
b) Has building company had “a mate” do a PS4 for it? with no building consent.. If so run….
c) Was PS 4 signed by a CPEng? who?
d)  Has it just had a lick of paint to hide problems and is being flicked on to unsuspecting buyer? If so run…...
e) Get Scope of works and all paper work before you buy.

2. Is it an “As is where is house” that is being on sold.

a) This means no insurance review is possible. ie case will not be reopened. If so run….
b) Repairs consented by City Council? yes/no?   If no run..
c) had “a mate” do a PS4 for it? If so run….
d) was PS 4 signed by a CPEng? who?
e) Just had a lick of paint and is being flicked on to unsuspecting buyer? If so run….
f) Get scope of works and all paper work before you buy.
g) It is Unlikely to be insured.  Also if it has been insured it is unlikely to be re-insured.

Get Documentation?

3. Is it prone to flooding?

a) Avoid: Parts Of New Brighton, Flockton Basin, Avon River, Heathcote River and low-lying areas on East side. If so run fast….
b) Anything on east side will need to be raised by 1 metre sooner or later, add $100,000 plus.

c) It is Unlikely to be insured.  Also if it has been insured it is unlikely to be re-insured.

4. What is the land status? https://mylandzone.canterburymaps.govt.nz/#/
a) Is it TC3 ie bottomless bog hole, If so run…..
b) Is it TC2 – slightly less bottomless bog hole, If so run….
c) Is it TC1 – solid land. This is GOOD.

5. Has it had a EQC repair?
That means the damage was considered to be “under cap” ie less than $100,000
a) was it “Fletchered”? A new verb.  It means that the repair was managed by Fletcher Earthquake Recovery (EQR), often by an unknown out-of-town builder/painter/plumber etc.. ie repairs done by “unknown contractor”, long gone from the city.  May be run….. depends on builder.
If so get a Licensed Building practitioner or CPEng to inspect it.
b) Has it been “jack and packed” in foundations? If so run….….. after inspection
c) Have foundations been looked at? If not run…..
Does it have Rubble foundations with plastered over cracks?? Depends on the repair….  may be run
d) Is the under floor area full of liquefaction? If so run very fast….
e) Did it have asbestos? Covered up or removed?
f) Get scope of works and all paper work before you buy.
g) Is it insured?
h) have the repairs been done more than once, If so run…..                                                       i) Is roof leaking, has the roof structure been inspected?  Check scope of works.

6. Avoid any building with no eaves. Potential leaky building.

a) Avoid some modern plaster finishes.

7. Avoid multi unit buildings “MUBS”, corporate bodies & cross leases.
a) Many of these were owned by multiple owners and multiple insurance companies were involved. Many are still not settled. If so run….

Check Insurance?

8. At all times get a Licensed Building Practitioner or CPEng to inspect your choice

9. Borrow a friendly CPEng– if you can find one.

10. Ask the REAL ESTATE agent these questions, some are being less than honest in some cases,  ie down right evasive.  (I had one the other day deny the house was  a “As is Where is repair”, it had been signed off by Friendly Engineer with no consent.  They do not tell you unless you insist on the information.)

11. Demand all the paper work. “Scope of works” is the terminology.  The lawyer is your friend here.  Check that the scope of works was accurate!!!! Check LIMS and PIMS. http://www.buildingguide.co.nz/resources-regulations/pims-lims-why-theyre-important/

12. West side is better, newish is better, …..

13. Make sure the company who inspects the building is sending a Licensed Building Practitioner to inspect your choice.


Red Stickered:  Means unsafe.  Do not enter.

As is where is:  A house being sold in a damaged state- ie what you see is what you get.  Uninsured.

PS4:  Producer Statement, Construction Review:  https://www.building.govt.nz/projects-and-consents/apply-for-building-consent/support-your-consent-application/producer-statements/

“Producer statements are typically used for specialist work, such as engineering, or where there is a proprietary product which is installed by appointed contractors. Councils will use their judgement when considering producer statements and how much weight to give them.”

CPEng: (Chartered Professional Engineer),  https://www.cpec.org.nz/cpec/what-does-cpeng-mean   ” a Government-backed mark of quality indicating the individual engineer has proven their current competence to practice as a professional engineer within New Zealand. These engineers are required to maintain their current competence.”

“To be Fletchered”?  Verb. “When homes and infrastructure were damaged in Christchurch’s 7.1 earthquake in September 2010, Fletcher Earthquake Recovery (EQR) was established to manage the logistics of a massive home repair programme on behalf of the Earthquake Commission (EQC). ” www.fletcherconstruction.co.nz/projects/community/earthquake-recovery    In short: It means that the repair was managed by Fletchers, often by an unknown out-of-town builder/painter/plumber etc.. ie repairs done by “unknown contractor”, often long gone from the city.  This is not the case in all instances, some repairs are good, problem is which ones?   May be run…..

“Jack and Pack:” The  re levelling of floors/foundations.  https://www.building.govt.nz/about-building-performance/news-and-updates/codewords/codewords-issue-74/doing-it-right-with-jack-and-pack/  Unfortunately in Christchurch many of the correct procedures have not been followed.

Rubble foundations:  Foundations made of stones and other rubble encased in varying grades of concrete, aggregate and plaster in the 1920s.  Google this one, I do not know where to start.

MUBS:  Multi Unit Buildings ie multiple flats on one site, often with different owners and different insurance companies.  These often have been left by EQC and the Insurance industry in the too hard basket and many are still not settled.

Scope of works: When EQC first assessed your property, we completed an initial Scope of Works. It was a broad estimate of damage and the scope may well have changed since then. https://www.eqc.govt.nz/canterbury-earthquakes/progress-updates/canterbury-faqs

As you can see buying a house in Christchurch is a very long and difficult process, and the horror stories are only just starting to appear as many of these shonky repairs fail.

Sorry son, I tried to help….


Road Cone Day.. High Street 7 years after the 22nd February 2011 Earthquakes..

It is “Road Cone Day” today.  When Christchurch remembers those that died, in a uniquely Christchurch fashion.


Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

That dreaded day has come around again,  when we all pause for reflection.  The 22nd of February 2011, the day that changed the lives of every Cantabrian,  some for the better, some for the worse.

We remember those that died, those that suffered and are still suffering and the many Cantabrian’s still trying to get Insurance settlements for their damaged houses and buildings.

We wonder what the future holds for the central city and 7 years on, reflect on progress in the CBD.

We have seen multiple/competing governmental agencies take control of the land, build, design and implementation of the rebuild process.  In the minds of many of us we see this as a separate and new disaster.  The anchor projects are un-affordable and in many cases stalled..  (in fact all they have achieved is a Children’s play ground and a Memorial Wall).

I await the analysis of the so-called “Rebuild agencies” with considerable interest, we need to make sure that this “half-baked” model they dreamt up in haste is never used in New Zealand ever again.

For High Street progress has also been painfully and frustratingly slow.

So we wait..  A total of 2492 days so far ….


High Street 7 years on from February 2011,  is just a car park…

It is hard to get enthusiastic about progress in the central city when we still have a street looking like this.  I see it as a massive failure of both local and central government management or rather mismanagement.

Lower High Street is still fenced off, there are 2 building owners who have not lifted a finger to repair their buildings.

In fact both owners have been given until 2033 to repair their properties under the “Earthquake Prone Building legislation”.   Really?, what planet is the CCC and Central Government  on?

This is in my view, hopelessly inadequate and is like slapping the owners with a “wet bus ticket”.   There has to be a better way of dealing with these issues.


Signage from the CCC on 141 High Street


On a more positive note:

  • The ground floor is nearly empty as all our machinery and stock has gone.
  • I see that the demolition has begun a few days ago on the 8 Duncan’s Units owned by Richard Pebbles.   He is planning to have the new units rebuilt by October/November.  Ye ha!

Demolition begins on the munted Duncan’s Building’s back.


Slow progress, but progress nevertheless.


If you have a building in a similar situation to ours, you need to read this blog from the beginning, so you can approach the issue with your eyes wide open.  This warts and all story is slowly reaching it’s final conclusion, only 240 more days to wait…

Whoops,  I  “Forgot” to tell you that the council is going to dig the street up, just when the buildings are finished.  I think they want to run the tram down this end?  I believe that this is now under some discussion, strange really, no one has asked me what I think…may be they know already?

ha ha the end is not in sight after all…. Bugger..

Update: 28 February 2018:

The demolition of the backs of the Duncan’s Buildings is progressing:  Some of it is going to be done by hand.


The lean too’s are gone, phase 2 begins. Now it gets tricky.

PPS.  Having trouble with Code of Compliance issues, at the CCC consents dept. … sigh, nothing structural I might add.  It is a paper work issue. It is about who signs the paper work!  lol.  A lawyers call seems to have progressed the issue….  they would not respond to my calls.  I think…. a case of “policy over legislation”.   I am watching with interest.