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.
Were:
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.

Glossary:

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….

 

Advertisements

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.

P1000573

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 ….

IMG_20180221_101712281

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.

P1010497.JPG

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!
IMG_20180221_102014412_HDR

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

IMG_20180221_101938248_HDR

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.

IMG_20180227_103222955.jpg

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.

High Street issues drag on for 7 years…

What is new in High Street?…

  • High Street has been closed for nearly 7 years. The last street in the city to get any attention.  (Have you considered that this is longer than World War 11 lasted).       As you know I consider that keeping this area un-repaired has been a deliberate strategy..   aimed to promote other areas of the city.   (What school did you go to??? she says cynically).
  • The re-opening of the “street” is “imminent”  – that is one lane only, one way.  It did not happen 3 weeks ago so “imminent” is as close as I can get.
  • The  “Billens building 2017” is nearly finished.  Looks good!  I will grab an up to date photo.IMG_20171003_122741207
  • The demolition of the back of the 8 units owned by Pebble’s Group was supposed to be “imminent” as well.  I am watching the grass grow as we speak.  There is a very serious risk that the frontages will collapse  when this demo gets underway, if they are not very, very careful. Hope they know what they are doing….

    IMG_20171129_150953038

    Digger been idle since end of November.

  • I spotted the CCC was cruising the street at 9.00pm the other night looking at the roading needs.  lol.  I would just settle for a road, who cares if it has cobbles? That’s a luxury. Apparently they were planning on digging up the road as soon as the new tenants have moved in to the rebuilt Billens and Duncan’s units.  You get the picture new businesses/road works a Typical Christchurch scenario.  I think you have already heard me comment on the lack of care that has been taken over the existing tenants/businesses in the CBD, by the powers that be.  This has not changed.
  • Our new tenants moved in upstairs yesterday.  They are having trouble getting an internet/phone line.  We put all the cabling in place but apparently there is no fibre connections spare in St Asaph street.  ie not enough nodes???  Really????   The latest update is that they may end up on the copper line that I had to use in 2013 that Vodafone “cobbled” up for me.   (Took them 4 months if I remember rightly).
  • As of today I am officially unemployed.  Cardmakers is sold, Arts the printers is closed.
  • re our neighbours.  On the North side, nothing has happened.  Zilch, nada…. it was supposed to be containered off at the front, 3 high if I remember correctly.  It was supposed to have parts of it demolished, it was supposed to be strengthened.. etc.. How is it that a building owner can get away with doing NOTHING for 7 years with no penalties?    The law is an ass.   It is well and truly time this was sorted out by legislation.    Somebody help????  Anyone out there?   CCC won’t help, nor will  Regenerate or LINZ, The Local MP’s won’t/can’t help…  Megan woods, Ruth Dyson, Duncan Webb…   Suggestions welcomed.   I am giving serious consideration to the temporary prop that I put in 7 years ago to hold up the roof…. that must be due to fail by now… the floor is rotten, the walls are falling out,   don’t blame me if it happens!!!
P1010445

Part of our back deck is inaccessible to our tenants.

  • Oh and one last thing.. We are going for code of Compliance in early January 2018.  Ye ha.   7 years work coming to fruition!  By the way we did our landscaping for the Resource consent last week.  That was a waste of effort.  All the plants were stolen overnight.  They did leave the planter box though.  I really do wonder about the consents processes, they are a bit silly!P1010488.JPG

ho ho it’s off to work I go,  got some cleaning out to do and some compliance paper work to sort….

Have a great Christmas and New year.

Duncan’s Building in High Street vs Digger…

High Street News Flash:

  • I have been told by a contractor that the street in front of the Duncan’s Buildings will be opened on Monday, one way.  I have had no notification of this from the CCC but I would consider that normal.  ie I do not expect communication at any level.  I have no idea what implications this will have for contractor parking in the area, which is quite frankly a nightmare.  The irony of this is that you will enter the street from Tuam Street, go around the block and end up on, you guessed it, Tuam Street.  Aren’t our roading engineers clever?
  • A digger has begun demolition off  8 of the Duncan’s  Units, leaving the frontage standing if they are lucky. I will grab some pix today.
IMG_20171129_150953038

Digger has arrived and begun the demo.

  • Did you know that  once these 8 units are down, the unit next to us at 141 High Street is probably one of the most damaged buildings left in the city.  It has no support for its frontage and the back of it is just as bad if not worse.  The floors are rotten, the roof leaks and is held up by a prop that we put in place in 2010.  We should have pulled it out long ago.  ….. that is tempting …..   And still LINZ and the City Council wait for the building owner to do something.  As far as I can see, the owner, who is in Christchurch at the moment I might add,  (back from his overseas paradise), comes to look at the building occasionally and gives the universal one fingered salute to the CCC.  The law is clearly an ass.

Just how long are they going to let this go on? Is 7 years long enough for one building owner to hold up redevelopment of an area.  Obviously not! This building is not unique in the street as you well know.

IMG_20171127_093846325

NB. collected some graffiti in the weekend. If the silly idiot that did this knew what was holding the bay window up he would be very afraid.

P1010445

Part of our back deck is inaccessible to our tenants.

IMG_20170503_112010056P1000945

Hi ho, hi ho, I am off to clear out the factory, we have sold the last of the plant.  Transfer is on the 30 December.

By the way, the lack of care that the government/council has taken with the existing businesses remaining in the CBD and fringes is worrying.  The conclusion we have all reached is that they did not want us here.

One also wonders, at what point do they consider that the number of bars and cafes in the city is past saturation point?  I note that bars and cafes are colonizers in a disaster, the problem in the Christchurch CBD and fringes is that we show no signs of getting past this stage.  So one could say that the recovery phase has not even begun.  7 years on….

They do not talk about this either,  Close your eyes government, for this is getting comical!

How not to repair a Heritage Bulding in the Christchurch CBD… Dirty 30’s again….

What is new in High Street.

  • The Watson’s frontage has been purchased by Shaun Stockman.  An Excellent outcome for the street as he is a very proactive landowner, who has a flare with heritage buildings.  (Although, as you know, I hate just keeping the facades).  I know that the Watson’s Building had been strengthened pre-earthquakes.  So the question should be asked as to why is only the facade still standing?  Did CERA have another of their rushes of blood to the head?  Any one know or remember, or was it another case of an overzealous demo contractor? I will try to find out. Link Here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/98817606/facade-sells-at-auction-no-takers-for-dux-building
  • This is obviously still annoying me…. I see the “dirty 30 list” is rearing its ugly head again.  In the 6 months or so that the CCC has been pursuing the building owners on this list they have sorted out 3?  Really? ( I sorted one-off them for them, I might add.  So consider that 2.)  And you consider that a success? As a building owner still trapped in a street of “Dirty 30’s” I do not consider this a success.  In fact the words Dismal Failure spring to mind.  Link Here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/99030236/action-taken-on-christchurchs-dirty-30-list   As you all know, I think that the legislation has let us down badly in this regard. The building owners in many cases have been negligent in their duties to the city.
  • We have now sold all of our plant.  The last of it will transfer in a few weeks to the new owner. We are pleased that we have sold the last of the gear to a local company.  We look forward to helping him get up and running and we hope he has as much fun with the “Cardmaker’s brand” as I have had in the last 20 years.  The factory is slowly emptying as we work our way through 50 years of stuff!  Jeepers we have found some treasures!
  • The demolition of the back of the Duncan’s buildings was supposed to happen a few weeks ago.  I do not know what the hold up has been.  There are multiple engineering issues with this demo.  I have some reservations about it.  One being how they will resolve the issue of the continuous facade and seismic gaps in the rebuild of the backs.  But what would I know.
    P1000413

    No Demo yet….

    Happy days… the sun is shining, the ground only shakes once in a while, I am in my new house, the garden is starting to look better and not working is really great…. May I cost the government a fortune in superannuation payments and health care…. I consider it revenge for the crappy treatment that they dished out to the small land owners in the city… but I would say that!!!

How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD… St Asaph Street debacle..

What is New in High Street?

  • I see that Barry Watson has finally decided to put his frontage on the market for sale.  Personally I have serious reservations about the efficacy of “facadism”.  My experience is that the cost of repairing such facades is out of proportion to the return that one will get.  ie to get that facade tied back to a new building will cost approximately $1m?  Is it worth it? I also wonder what the cost to the surrounding area has been off leaving this building frontage derelict for 7 years.  A subject that the now EX building minister Nick Smith ignored when I tried to bring it up.   Link here:  https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/98252721/christchurch-heritage-facade-for-sale–without-the-building
  • The building next door at 135 High Street is down.  There is a wee bit of party-wall to be fixed.  From our point of view it looks 100% better.

    IMG_20171020_064349590.jpg

    Why did this take 7 years?????

  • I threw my toys out of the cot, again… and now finally the CCC has started to sort out the parking issues in our cul-de-sac.  I now have to ring them again as the rubbish bins are not being emptied and the street is awash with trash. What is it with these guys?
    IMG_20171011_121639933

    It has improved.

    I have been watching the St Asaph Street roading debacle with interest.  Generation Zero is insisting that the city become cycle only, while the business/building owners want vehicle access for their customers.   The naivety of the Generation Zero group is surprising, we have an aging population and they appear to have no business sense what so ever, while the Business Owners are fighting for the survival of their businesses  (they also have lost the plot, as much of the street was being used as long-term parking by their staff).  Reinstating what we had in the past is not satisfactory.  Any one ever heard the word compromise?

    Link Here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/98200418/authorities-believe-christchurchs-controversial-central-city-transport-plan-is-still-right-for-the-city   I will admit that I laughed when they suggested that this plan is going to come to fruition in 10 years time.  Whoops.. shame about the fact that it is not working now! Bit tough on the businesses that are there now…

  • Moving on…. Demolition off the backs of the Duncan’s Buildings begins on Monday.  We are not looking forward to the dust. I will get some photos of it tomorrow.  It could get interesting structurally…
  • We are having a closing down sale next weekend as we are not willing to wait for things to get better.  We have heaps of stock to clear.  We look forward to seeing our clients again after 7 years..close down mail order

have a safe evening!

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

What is new in High Street…

It took 4 hours to sort it with a digger…

P1010460

But It took 7 years to get to this stage…

 

P1010464

Locked up again, this time for a week!

All jokes aside, one would have to ask why it took nearly 7 years for the issue of 135 High Street to be resolved.

We asked for help numerous times:

  • The land owner- it was uninsured..
  • CERA (Govt)  The less said about these guys the better.
  • CCDU  (Govt)  -Waste of time…
  • DCL Christchurch  (CCC)  -No money no power.
  • The CCC -They denied they had the power.
  • CCC Heritage….. Well meaning but toothless..
  • Lawyers…  $$$$
  • LINZ (Govt)  who are in charge of these things now (They Ducked for cover, no response…)
  • The Minister of Building and Construction Dr Nick Smith… (Govt) ( Not my problem he says…)

No One would or was willing to address the issue.

There is a much bigger picture here that needs to be addressed. Who in the future is going to make sure this situation does not occur again? Wellington it is your turn now, you too could face the same problem…

One Building owner should not be able to hold up progress in an area to the detriment of surrounding and functioning businesses.

Minister Nick Smith is plain WRONG.  This issue needs to be addressed, it is occurring all over the country as buildings are abandoned,  often demolition costs are exceeding the value of the land. So it is easier to walk away.

The legislation is patently flawed and I feel that the responsibility for this failure lies with the Minister, Nick Smith.  This situation has been an epic failure on his part.

It should never be allowed to occur again..

Whoops I forgot… I got another building just like this one on the other side.

The law is an ass…

 

ho hum… I would like to see the figures on the number of Business closures in the CHCH CBD in the last 7 years, and the figures for how many survived the quakes and the shambles that followed…

PS.  I have been told that our end of High Street is closed.  Has been for months.  That accounts for the parking problems I have been going on about.   I found out by accident.  NO ONE TOLD or asked me.  CCC another epic failure….

NOTE TO CCC PARKING DIVISION:  WE ARE STILL TRADING OUT OF OUR BUILDING…..