How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…

Well, what an interesting few weeks we have had.

As you may remember I received from the CCC Building consent department a final warning about our building amendments.  (These have been on hold for so long even I have trouble remembering what they were for).

Anyway, I had one week to sort it out or they would be cancelled.  (That treatment from Building Consents is about on a par with CERA’s 10 day deadline imposed to produce a comprehensive report on how to do a make safe – section 39). It required the long promised Detailed Engineering Evaluation and a Producer Statement.  (Basically bucket loads of Engineering paper work)

So, with a bit of help from the Heritage Department at the CCC, for which I am very grateful and another call to the Engineer, we managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat and magically produce these documents.  (The Engineer has been working on these for many months, remembering that there is a shortage of specialist Engineers in the city and not many of them like to work with Unreinforced masonry buildings. They are all overworked and at the limits of endurance. And these assessments are often not at the top of the priority heap. They take between 30-40 hours to prepare depending on the building size and complexity of course.)

It took some days of “burning the midnight oil” with the Engineer to get it scanned and formatted so that would go down the email. It is 160 pages long, consisting of detailed engineering drawings and calculations and a PS1 (Producer statement 1- basically a report taking full responsibility for the building. ie if I understand it correctly…   It removes liability from the Building consents department and places it on the Engineer.)

(incidentally, CCC Building consents email system is of such poor capacity that I had to break the document into 2 parts and compress it, pdf it at smallest resolution and generally muck around.)

I sent it on the 26th January at 10.00 pm. I have not heard back from them except for a short email a few days later.

I was also obliged to send a copy to CERA,  (same email problems),  the Insurance company and the Cunningham Lindsay assessor. (no problem at all!)

The interesting part of sending it to CERA is- Aside from the fact that you do not know if the email is received.

  •   Here we are 18 days later, and like them, I count weekends as days, as they did when they served the disgraceful, undemocratic and ill-conceived – section 38 and 39’s (demolition and make safe orders) on most of the building owners in the city, they still have not responded.

Gee they better hurry up, may be their building has fallen down? Their email is not working? Sounds familiar! They are not employing engineers any longer? Lets face it they have left nothing standing in the central city so they must be redundant by now….

One assumes that they can read the bottom line which says………   wait for it….

73% of the New Building Standard.  That is a damn sight better than most modern concrete buildings in the city.

And the punch line is:

WE GO GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!        ( Excuse the shouting…..That means we get unhindered access)

3 years and 2 months to do 9 months work. Daft really.

For those of you in the know: this means:

  • they are going to have to pull back the fencing from our frontage. That will stick in their craw!
  • The other interesting aspect of this is that now they have me fully green at one end of the Duncans Buildings and David Collins looking like he will go green in some months at the other end, (he has just rebricked his frontage.   I tried to get a photo for you but it is well hidden behind scaffolding and a daft tree that the CCC planted 15 + years ago. But you will get the idea.

    The new frontage of our neighbour is slowly rising

    The new frontage of our neighbour is slowly rising

( Long ago they planted the wrong type of tree, it’s some sort of oak, it’s too big and obscures the frontages, drops leaves as well as acorns and generally makes a horrible mess.  Which has not been cleaned up in 3 years I might add.)

Unfortunately, our tree was: hit by some bricks, backed into by the rubbish truck and what was left was finally sawn off by someone in a fit of rage as they tried to navigate building supplies around it.  This is a before the tree saga picture.

Us, fully strengthened and repairs still in progress.

Us, fully strengthened and repairs still in progress.

Post tree!

Post tree!

Cera/CCDU now has a problem, with both of us strengthened and repaired they are not left with much choice,  It has gone too far now and demolition is slowly fading as an option, a bit like their innovation plan! More on that later…
They need to immediately sell the six units that they currently own to willing heritage buyers and restorers.  Come on MBIE/CERA/CCDU how hard is that to figure out?

Actually does anyone know what these guys do does these days?  Seems to me that they hide in their building, fail to communicate and seem to be devoid of fresh ideas.

Hot of the Press. I heard from a source that the Innovation plan is to be released in March as I suspected. High Street gets a mention I am told. My guess will be that Vodafone will get the Consents that they want for their new site on High/Lichfield corner.  This is an open secret in the city.  Personally I don’t see why they don’t just announce it and tell MBIE to take a walk. Why Vodafone is playing their silly pre election political games I do not know.

MBIE/CERA/CCDU – Their inactivity has paralysed progress.

Oh well!

On a totally different subject, did you know that Vodafone is struggling to get me a phone line into the building in High Street?

This is the Innovation Zone for heaven’s sake, we are supposed to be bursting with IT innovation???  yeah right, how hard is it to transfer one miserable phone line from my residential address?

the excuses:  chorus have just discovered that they:

  • cannot get me a “in line” as all cables have been pulled out of high street,  dur!!!!  I did tell them!
  • we have a new access box thingy at the back door in St Asaph st with no in line, they are at present trying to score one from “NZ First” in the building behind us. (I don’t like their chances)
  • they don’t want to bring a cable across the road, too expensive.
  • they can’t get into building in town to soldier me up a new line, as it is out-of-bounds etc….

I have rung them every day for 4 days. I ordered this transfer over 3 weeks ago.

Hot of the press phone call number 6 or is it 8  I have lost count.   I spoke to “Kevin”,  whoever and where ever he is, he deserves a medal, he had the calls transferred to my mobile in under 30 minutes.   hello????

I am now on a T stick on the computer as we have no internet connection yet.  Oh what fun.  I have now learnt what wi-fi hot spots are.   Many thanks To ART BOX for the hot spot they have at the corner, you saved my bacon.

incidentally I notice that Vodafone is moving into the next block, I hope they have better luck with their internet connections than I do?
(I am checking out going to VOIP! Apparently that means Voice over Internet Protocol!    Also one wonders, as less than 100 metres away is the EPIC Centre, that’s the black building in the photo below.  That is the supposed heart of the Innovation Zone.   The IT capital of the city and 50 metres away I can not get a phone line.   Hello????????   any one out there????

The Black building in the right back of the photo is the EPIC centre, the supposed heart of Innovation in Christchurch.

The Black building in the right back of the photo is the EPIC centre, the supposed heart of Innovation in Christchurch.

What a week from hell.

What have we been up too,  aside from all that stuff with the paper work?

We have been putting in flashings on the front windows, pouring a new concrete step, starting to gib a wall downstairs, ripping of the rusted and damaged zinc pressed panel off the verandah and reframing bits of the canopy in preparation for good old hardy plank. Which is going up now.  Not my first choice but needs must.  I did price new zinc panel it looks exactly like what I wanted but I need to be practical. Heritage buffs, sorry, eat your heart out, but I can not afford the zinc panel. No whistles or bells on the fit out I am afraid.

We have been working on finishing installation of banisters for the stairs, fixing the blinds up stairs, installing the stair doors. Fixing gutterings and many other small and annoying jobs.  I have been informed that I can not yet proceed with the downstairs gib until the consent comes through. Drat that is really holding me up.

We have found a few cracks in a wall that need to be Sika Nitokit LV ( if I have this correct its sort of injected glue/ concrete sealant)  It keeps the moisture out of the concrete so that the reinforcing inside does not rust and expand and weaken.


I also heard a comment about the people in Christchurch all being a wee bit insane, but also at the same time coping as best they can, therefore we are insanely sane! Trust me on this one, dealing with repairing buildings/CERA/Insurance companies/EQC/House Building companies/Arrow/Vodaphone is guaranteed to tip you over the edge.   My old mum said to me before she died that this was a “war situation” and to treat it as such. Pace yourself she said. Do one job a day, ignore authority because they have no idea what they are doing and do your own thing. Do what you have to do and don’t look back.  Don’t dwell on past failures, problems, just laugh about it, talk about it and move on to the next problem, because tomorrow we may just have to start all over again.

We might just as well have Earthquake number 13982 and it might be a big one…..

On another subject I had a wry smile when I saw this,  They are lucky they did not have CERA to contend with.

Have a look at how the US deals with a problem…

Interesting that they retrieved the vehicles and the undamaged parts of the building were allowed to open.  Here in Christchurch they would have let the cars rot for 3 years, than taken them to the dump, the building would be red zoned as well as a 5km area around it, thousands would lose their jobs and the world would end. There is no way that building would be allowed to be used. Not necessarily in that order!

It’s a good day the mobile phone works and it’s not raining. And we have gone GREEN!


8 thoughts on “How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…

  1. there’s a stack of zinc panel that came from inside our building and we saved carefully just sitting on the confiscated site at Lichfield Street, if CERA haven’t already run a digger over it 😥

  2. Congratulation well done. I admire your perseverance. EQ repairs are hopeless for me so I have put 20 dwellings into litigation. I leaving this town and bought a home in Queenstown. Please turn out the lights for me.

  3. Hi Nicky – keeping myself informed as to what’s happening to my family on the other side of the world and hope to give you some moral support! I REALLY admire your strength and perseverance! It looks you’re making headway despite ALL the obstacles put in your way by officialdom!!! KEEP it up!!!

    • Hi Tristan,
      I am not expecting you to read my tirades against authority and officialdom! (I am afraid it is the Arts family “political and anti authority” side of the family coming out.) What is happening here is off little interest to the rest of the world!
      Thanks for the support. Kind regards from your cousin Nicky.
      (I have you on my list of people to email when the broad band gets connected, though I suspect that may be a wee way off! )

      • Don’t worry Nicky! I’m FULLY aware how busy you are and how frustrated you must be!! It’s just nice to be in touch from time to time and ‘follow’ you trough your difficulties, hopefully leading to a successful conclusion soon!! Love from us!! Tristan xxx

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