Building Owners guide to Red Stickering

A CBD Building Owners guide to surviving earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We own one of “Gerry’s Dungers” in the CBD. It is still standing despite the best efforts of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to demolish all of the “dungers”.

Here is a beginner’s guide for a building owner on how to survive.  Errors and omissions accepted.

Gerry's Dunger!

Gerry’s Dunger!

1. Do Not expect any help from the authorities. (They will not help you do urgent repairs to your house/building nor offer meaningful assistance). The tendency of the authorities is to panic, pick up the Health and Safety manual and put idiots in charge. In our case they locked the building owners out of the CBD for 2 years. The results of this are plain to see today.  Desolation, abandoned buildings, empty bare land.

2. Do Not move out of your house/building unless it is truly munted. If in doubt ring a builder friend. If you have to move into your garage or shed and make urgent repairs do so). It is usually better to stay in your house regardless of the condition. Financially, moving is an extra stress that you do not need. Also the landowners take advantage of your misery and Insurance funds by putting up the cost of the rentals immediately. DO NOT MOVE unless absolutely VITAL.  (Minor cracks to the plaster does not constitute “major damage” nor does “off the foundations” or sloping floors or even broken windows.  ( I and my neighbours pushed the walls of my house back into alignment with a Ute and propped it up with the help of scrounged/liberated building supplies. Then we lived in it for 3 years. It is not good, but it is better than renting and using up your insurance funds).

Here is a pix of 4 years progress on my house:  Southern NO Response– the Insurance company, Arrow– Project Managers and Benchmark (Building company) should be ashamed of themselves. The lack of efficiency, cost over runs and mistakes made are beyond belief).

This is 4 years progress for the Insurance company on my house.

This is 4 years progress for the Insurance company on my house.

3. Do Not expect any help from the authorities. They will be too busy protecting their jobs and having meetings.

3a.  This includes the CCC building Consents department.  The system does not take account of the difficulties of getting your Engineering paper work sorted in a timely manner.  (In our case they are still arguing about whether the steel reinforcing columns will melt before the bricks explode in the event of a fire). In CHCH most people I know are now opting out of the Consents process.  This says it all really.

4. Do Not expect any help from the other building owners in the city. They will show no leadership skills.  They are too busy protecting their own properties and positions:
a) taking positions. ie buying up your property or trying to get their hands on your insurance settlement.
b) sorting out their own problems.

5. Do not expect the authorities to listen to reason. They know better! This is regardless of the soundness of your arguments and opinions.

5a. Do not believe what the authorities or “Powers that Be” tell you.  Tomorrow the details will change.  Just assume that they do not know what they are doing and tomorrow they will change their minds.  One would like to hope that reason would eventually prevail. Do not count on it.

6. Do not expect the authorities to listen to overseas experts, even ones with experience in handling exactly the same disaster that you are facing. New Zealand authorities always know better.

7. Do not expect the authorities to put in place competent administrators with experience. Here we got a landscape gardener in charge, an ex army Engineer and a council official from Timaru.

8. Do not expect the insurance companies to honour their policies.  Do Not expect help from your Broker. The mantra is “Deny, delay, defend”. (Our insurance settlement is still unresolved 4 years after the event).
a) Expect numerous assessments and assessors. ( I have heard of up to 11 different insurance assessors dealing with the one building owner, you will find that you repeat yourself endlessly as you go through the details over and over again.  We had 8 accessors, I think, I have lost count????
NOTE:
b) It is often to your insurance companies advantage if you do not repair/ rebuild your building. You tend to get indemnity value only, which is lower than replacement value.

9. Do not be afraid to hire your own Engineers.

a) Pick one with experience in your type of structure. Chose your Engineer wisely. ( ie there are only approximately 5 Engineers in Christchurch experienced in the repairs of Un reinforced masonry buildings. (URM’s). We had a few young CERA Engineers come through our building and tell us that “it was very dangerous”. They were barely out of University and had no experience with URM’s.

b) DO NOT believe what the “Government paid” Engineers tell you. SIGHT your building ie a site inspection. Do NOT take their word as Gospel. Get your own Engineer, get a second or third opinion if you have ANY doubts. (There were many buildings in Christchurch that should not have been bulldozed).

10. Do not expect logic to take any place in the redevelopment of the city. They will continue to pull down both brand new and old buildings that do not fit their new “Grand Design”. They will have a grand plan that defies logic. Try not to focus on their grand design, it will drive you mad. Fight for your building and try to ignore the idiots in charge. If they try to take your building, stall, stall, stall. The longer you stall the higher the price you will get.  You hope.

11. Do not expect the authorities to be able to make decisions quickly. Decisions take YEARS! (As it sits on the desks of those with sign off power).  We can not rebuild the back of our building as they refuse to tell us the planned design for the lane way at the back of our building.  Only another year before we get an answer. lol!

12. Take no notice of the authorities. Do what you have to do. Be it raiding your building/house to get your gear out or refusing to allow them to demolish your building without a second opinion. The trick is to APPEAR to be doing something. Even if its DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. Treat the powers that be with the contempt that they deserve. Remember that they have not got a clue about what they are doing. They will bully you endlessly and try to tell you that they know what they are doing. Do not believe them.

13. Every once in a while you will find a sympathetic/helpful official. Be grateful for small mercies. In our case it has been the Heritage lobby officials. The encouragement that you get makes it worthwhile.

14. Calling all Media experts : if you are a Media/Communication Expert immediately apply to the govt for a job. The government needs to put a positive spin on what they are doing so they will hire heaps of Media Experts to try to influence the Press. Last count at CERA was 43 and the money is good. ( This is a problem for those of us with a conscience as they have filled the Press with bull shit about how well its going).

15. Take the insurance companies or EQC to court to get JUST settlements, one building at a time if necessary.  Get your paper work in order.  Be it Engineer Reports, building or land assessments and go for it.

16. Expect more than one earthquake. Take no notice of the earthquake experts, they  have no clues about what will happen. And the powers that be will try to keep morale up by putting a positive spin on it.  Expect each quake to cause damage to your building. Brace yourself for 15,000 plus. Expect quakes for many more years to come.

17. Expect to have at least one or two or three…. who cares how many…. meltdowns in 4 years. The stress of dealing with this number of earthquakes has a cumulative effect. Meltdowns are perfectly allowable and normal. ( Avoid chocolate and booze. Lapses are allowed especially with your friends and family). You are allowed to cry in the street, throw tantrums and generally behave badly. Its normal. ye ha…… Expect to be hugged by perfect strangers in the street.

18. Expect to come out of the experience as a different person. You will be stronger, more resilient. Less concerned with appearances, possessions and small issues. Less tolerant of bull shit. You will change.  It is unavoidable.

19.  Keep those water bottles clean and full and do not fill in the long drop in the garden, they are a sod to dig.  And always keep your hard hat, boots and fluro jacket with “Engineer” written on the back, you never know when it will come in handy.

20.  The rest of New Zealand.  Be very afraid. The CER style Act of Parliament tramples on individual property owners rights.  It is poor legislation that was rushed through in a dictatorial manner and ignores the conventions on post disaster recovery.  ( a point made by Robert , a reader of this blog).

21.  Realise that the EQC system is flawed.   The multiple assessments by untrained: cops, office girls, children of EQC management etc was a flawed process. (If you were really lucky you got a real trained competent builder!).  Today 4 years on there are still home owners who do not know if their houses are to be repaired or bulldozed.  The system of apportionment ( ie a % figure allocated to the damage caused by each quake) is flawed. To be “Fletchered”  ie have your house repairs managed by Fletchers is a verb in CHCH.  If you were lucky you got competent local builders.  If you were unlucky you got a shoddy patch up job, some of these repair jobs are going to haunt many home owners for many years to come.

So:  If you have a multiple event situation like we did, think CAREFULLY before you put in multiple claims with EQC.  One or 2 claims gets you to your Insurance company in a more timely manner.

Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/editors-picks/66088834/EQC-suboptimal-and-substandard-report

(As you can see from the picture of my “house” this does not always help you. The Insurance companies have in many cases performed badly as well!  Southern No Response is a good example).

hey Its just another day,  the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting and all is quiet!

Building Consent troubles in Christchurch….. still…..

So what is new in the life of the beleaguered High Street building owners?

Our Building consents amendment is still stalled.   The CCC have a bad habit of asking “not quite relevant questions” that mean you have to go back to your overworked Engineer and that stalls the process. We all know that the Engineers in the city are hopelessly overloaded, the last thing he needs is not “relevant” questions. They still have not cleaned up their act.  And the $10 million that they have spent on a “Crown Manager” has not helped US one little bit.  The irony is that all I want to do is “gib a sodding ceiling with fyre line.”  I am now considering replacing this ceiling with “like for like” ie what we removed will be replaced..  So instead of being fire safe, I will replace it with the original material….  Rimu tongue and groove. That’s fire safe eh?  NOT!  That would mean I can by-pass the issues I am having with the fire safety aspects of the amendment. Stupidity knows no bounds really.  (I was talking to another building owner the other day and he called it the ” City council consent disease”, a disease whereby they are so busying keeping their paper work neat and tidy and covering their asses, that they have forgotten why they are there.)

On the subject of paper work, and trust me here, I spend hours every day on the stuff, all earthquake generated: Although we produced the paper work for CERA in January (the long-awaited Detailed Engineering Evaluation)  it took 5 months for CERA to make safe the surrounding buildings so that we could open our front door “safely.”  It took less than 8 hours to re-mortar the neighbours parapet and less than 8 hours to fill a skip with the loose rubbish that was on the adjacent building.  (note that this was not a danger to anyone, but did not look pretty!)

So what does it mean?  Actually nothing.  The street is a “pedestrian free” area.  The fencing is so intrusive that pulling it back will make little difference to us at this stage. It hugs our front door line and does not inspire confidence. The street requires considerably more intervention than this. A fact the CCDU/CERA “the powers that be” seem unable to grasp.

Still it means that in the middle of the night when I get home I do not have to hunt for my glasses and a torch to open the locked gate. That is an advantage.

Due to the lack of security in the street at night, we have started to park our vehicles in the building.  I was mightily annoyed last saturday night when some creeps decided to smash the windscreen of my car- and it was inside the cordon!   really safe eh…..  Unfortunately the police did not catch the offenders, although they came quickly for which I am grateful.  Pity! The lighting and security down here is hopeless.  My “private security guard” (employed by the poly technic) was not in the area at the time….  He keeps an eye out for me as well, nice man!  Which is helpful and I am grateful for the extra pair of eyes.

I have attached a pix of the new fencing arrangement.  Still it is progress of a sort.

 

Out of the cordon.

Out of the cordon.

On another note:

The City “Doughnut” argument has been a hop topic lately.  Much to the amusement of the building owners, who are getting no pleasure out of saying.  “We told you so”.  They would not listen and are still not listening.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10195251/Architect-warns-of-doughnut-city-risk

Mr Brownlee has been frantically trying to deny that the city is a doughnut, but it is undeniable  and is so obvious now that even the rest of the city has cottoned on, finally!

The government is now so frantic to prove us wrong that we are starting to get the pre-election hand outs!  This one has amused me no end.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10242273/Government-office-cluster-for-city

Those of us with long memories will remember Mr Brownlee telling us that 2500 civil servants would come to the central city.  This number has shrunk in the wash some what and become 1100 and falling. Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10239867/1100-civil-servants-to-move-into-CBD  

The sad bit about it is that we are now seeing some projects being announced now.  3.5 years too late.  (But just before the elections.)  It is obvious to everyone in Christchurch that development here has been deliberately stalled to allow National to “pull the rabbits out of the hat” prior to the elections.

We have: $30 million going to a park  ( Very useful huh!) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10184473/Mahy-park-price-tag-an-insult

We have the Avon River project: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10227583/Avon-River-plans-altered-to-avoid-flooding  (for a mere $100 million)

We have the Memorial area for a mere $10 million.  We certainly need a memorial to those that died that day, but $10 million?  : http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/city-centre/10259799/Avon-site-for-quake-memorial

Do you notice a theme developing here?

The political parties are finally playing politics with the CHCH situation.  Unfortunately it is way too late. And we had hoped for better treatment.

I had a walk around the city centre the other night.  Firstly a little old lady in the city centre sounds like a bad idea you would think?  It was so empty only the drunks and homeless have not abandoned it! It was depressing.  Building after building is still boarded up, there are empty sites everywhere as well as rubble and decay.  I had trouble finding any thing open to get a feed or a drink.  Sad but true. Pathetic really.

There was a very good comment made a few days ago by Mark Waller of EBOS.   I have been amazed at the slowness of the “so-called” business leaders in commenting on the situation here.  I guess that some of them are so busy making money out of the rebuild that they have forgotten to look at the bigger picture. Which is, in a pine nut shell:  if there are very few business’s in the city that are surviving and thriving and the people do not have jobs to go to,  there is no money flowing through the economy, therefore the tax take will be down. Do not be fooled by the figures, the only reason New Zealand has a “rock star economy” is that it is Re-Insurance money pouring into Christchurch.  At the end of the day this flow of money will cease.  National does not appear to have made any structural changes to the economy in the last 6 years.  They have relied on the earthquakes to provide the momentum.  As well as resting on the returns from the agricultural sector. They would be happy to have an earthquake every 3 years. The link here for Mark Waller’s comments: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10246165/Slow-Christchurch-rebuild-a-tragedy

I notice that there is the odd comment coming through from experts about the rebuild in the city:  Unfortunately these comments are rarely published and more often than not, not followed through and analysed, mostly they are  “poo pooed” by the “powers that be”  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/10259042/Professor-warns-of-a-shabby-future

On a more humourous note I see Johnny Moore has been discussing the reasons for the difference in development  between High Street and Victoria Street.  I see that he took a beating over his comments. He was spot on!  One issue that he did not really cover was that High Street has been deliberately held back, as the whole central city was, by the red Zone fencing.  We were locked out of the city for so long that most of the building owners walked away.  Excellent opinion piece.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/10225115/Victoria-St-up-High-St-struggling

His comments were bang on!  “CCDU has released a document seeking feedback on the South Frame. As I read through it I was horrified by how many extra stupid rules they intend to saddle poor property owners with.”

I have just spent a number of what i consider “wasted” days writing a submission on the draft plans.  (Wasted because consultation is not what CCDU wants or listens to, the exception being if you are a large developer or large building owner.)  The submission maps we were given to work from were so small and conflicting that it was impossible to read or discern the detail, there was no roading plan, no way of working out who owns all the new lane ways, and heaps of rules about who is allowed to rent the buildings and a myriad of other silly concepts. (I will not bore you with a copy of my submission.) ha ha!
Everyone I have spoken to about these plans made the same comment as Johnny Moore: “How’s this for a case of marketing folk writing planning rules? In the policy dealing with the Innovation Precinct it is written into the rules that this precinct will enable innovative offices, commercial services and businesses to locate in the area “supported by a range of complementary activities, which will create an area where people and ideas can collide””.

yeah right and this means what?

Johnny took a pasting for his opinion piece.  He followed it up with this one: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/10250529/Its-not-that-I-don-t-care-about-High-Street  One word of advice Johnny, do not apologise, you were 100% correct in your assessment!  I think he and I should Re-start up the “Lower High Street” revitalization group!  I have been giving this a lot of thought and I think it is time for our own lobby group.  Watch out Johnny I am about to spring this idea on you.

When I get a minute I will work out how many days we have to go before we hear if these buildings are going to be confiscated by the CCDU  I think it is another 8 years…… I have to get the calculator out.

ho humm.  Slow progress, but it is at least progress!

 

How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD…Part 140.

4.3.14

Oh!

Acknowledgement after 5 weeks and 2 days that CERA has received the DEE. (Detailed Engineering Evaluation)  They are “actively reviewing it.”   A Tui moment is required I am afraid,  “yeah right!”  So now if I understand this email correctly they have a problem with my neighbours.  What a surprise.

(Peeps in the know, will be pleased to hear that we are now getting the “NO Name emails, whoa aren’t we scary”)  copy below.

Attention: Catharina Arts.
 
Dear Catharina,
 
CERA received your DEE on 26 January 2014, and we have been actively reviewing it since that time. CERA is also reviewing- as we do with all buildings impacted by section 45 restrictions- the adjacent buildings that are also restricted to determine the potential impact they may have on surrounding area, and this is taking time due to incomplete information and information that CERA has not received. This aspect of the review was communicated in part in the email sent to building owners in December- below.
 
CERA will be in contact in due course once our engineers have reviewed all information at hand.
 
Regards,
 
The Operations Team
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority
Private Bag 4999, Christchurch 8140
http://cera.govt.nz/
 
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
 
—– Original Message —–
From: demolitionenquiries (CERA)
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 3:46 PM
Subject: 129-181 High Street- Section 45 Restricted Access Revision
 
Dear High Street Owners,
 
CERA engineers have reviewed all engineering information currently available to us and having considered their recommendation, the Chief Executive has revised the existing restrictions on your properties under section 45 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011.  This is the addition of fall hazard zones and the restricted access area is shown on the attached marked-up aerial photograph. Access to the areas marked in yellow is restricted for emergency purposes, damage assessment or making safe. The area marked in red is a prohibited area.
 
If you are making safe your building or assessing damage in the yellow area, this revised restriction will not interfere with that. For the red area, entry may be possible for the purposes of salvage, demolition, or repair if specific authority is obtained from the Chief Executive of CERA.
 
As per previous correspondence, public space is now under the Christchurch City Council’s management. While CERA liaise with the CCC and their contractors on fencing issues around the restricted areas in the CBD, normal construction site management procedures will apply, i.e. you will need to deal with the CCC regarding pavement and road encroachments. In addition to this, and also previously communicated, it is the current building owner or their representative’s responsibility to ensure that their building and property is adequately secured.
 
As per current requirements, the restriction may be removed from your building if CERA receives a full structural assessment of the building and it shows there are no serious structural deficiencies. Any removal would also be dependent on the status of neighbouring buildings and hazards.
 
Please note, current restricted area as of today does not necessarily represent current fencing placement as per the attached map and may change in the future. (i.e. there may be additional area fenced off).
 
The plot thickens!

6.3.14 – 4.30pm:

A phone call from CERA.

Your DEE has been accepted, but …. because of your neighbours we will not lift the section 45 ( Emergency access only and make safe work allowed.)

What a waste of time all that work has been.

I see absolutely no point in proceeding with the work, or attempting to open if they can not get their shit together and sort out the neighbours, they have had 3 years, how much longer do David Collins and I have to tolerate this situation?

One would wonder why any building owner in the city bothers to repair their building when this is likely to be the end result.

I am now considering re-plying the frontage. It will probably be for the next 3 years as this is how long it took for us to get to this point and the neighbours have not even “made safe” yet and CERA appears to have no control or influence over them.
(I might point out that Spink’s building can not fall anywhere, and that Jon Webb’s (BBS Australia Ltd) parapet has been tied back at our expense.)

This is very dis-heartening when one considers that CERA brief is to “aid recovery”.  I can certainly say that in our case we have been abandoned.

We thought briefly that communication was improving  but that was an illusion.

On a slightly different subject:

Rumours abound about the release of the Innovation Precinct Plans and the beginning of meetings with the land owners next week.  I have requested a draft of the plan prior to the meeting so that I can give it due consideration.  I do not plan to be ambushed at this meeting as we were last time. This has been promised but has not appeared yet.  ( I have received 3 phone calls about my request and no plan.)

I have already heard from some peeps in the know, that some of the larger building owners have already objected and that the end plan has already been modified, to our detriment of course.

It makes one wonder why a small building owner would actually bother to go to these meetings when we already know that the plan they are about to put in front of us appears to have been superseded by another variation.

Ho humm, another very bad day in Christchurch.

At least the rain has stopped which proves that CERA has no control over it!

ps I still do not have a phone line or decent internet connection! Courtesy of Vodafone, though they did send me a $600 invoice for said phone line.

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.

Anyway…

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…  http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/9716474/Sinkhole-swallows-rare-Corvettes

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!

Frustrations of Building Owners rise…….. Limbo on High…

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1111 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 484 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1343 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November 2013 December????

Rumour has it not till march NEXT YEAR!!!!!

Still waiting…

I Love it:  Ng Gallery has had enough and decided to do some constructive Graffiti! I am going to follow their lead on this one. !

I know how they feel!

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas – NG style:
  • two many cracks
  • 3 years wait
  • 4 traffic jams
  • 5 parking lots
  • 6 loss adjusters
  • 7 forms to fill out
  • 8 public protests
  • 9 hundred hard hats
  • 10 council meetings
  • 11 thousand hi viz
  • 12 million road cones
  • and a stadium in the city.

“NG Gallery’s fate set to Christmas carol”

check this link out:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/christchurch-life/art-and-stage/9446015/NG-Gallerys-fate-set-to-Christmas-carol

Sounds like the frustrations are starting to boil over at Ng Gallery.  They have all my sympathy.  The situation in High Street is as dire.

They have one advantage over us in that they have been able to open.

Well, what an interesting week.  The building consents issue bubbles along.

After a very annoying conversation with the Building Consents Duty officer last week, who denied I could apply for an exemption. I have since received an email from another Building Consents Officer to say “If you wish, you can apply for an exemption which can include the reinstatement of the gib ceiling. I recommend you approach your architectural designer for this process.”

Lovely man!

But Okay. So which is it???  incidentally, as I said last week, I hear on the grape-vine that heaps of building owners are using this option, as my problem with getting Engineering  paper work is not uncommon in the city.  I am now pursuing the paper work for an exemption.  sigh!

I think I have my own version of the 12 days of Christmas-  with apologies to NG!

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas – Arts style:
  • and still locked out….
  • 12 kms of fences
  • 11 thousand rules
  • 10 days to make safe
  • 9 hundred buildings demolished
  • 8 loss adjusters
  • 7 forms to fill out
  • 6 lost opportunities
  • 5 derelict buildings on High St
  • 4 Government departments in charge
  • 3 years waiting for CCDU
  • two many buildings
  • 1 engineer

and still locked out.

to be refined!

I am currently watching a colleague in Lichfield street lose his building to CCDU at the moment.  I am trying to convince him to write me a guest blog. His story is fascinating and depressingly familiar.  It covers: compulsory make safe by CERA, extortionate demolition/make safe bills, theft of materials from the building, years of being locked out, inaction by surrounding land owners,  months of work planning repairs, now compulsory acquisition of the building with the site to be rebuilt on.  And now,  Problems getting the Property Group to accept that the building is a viable, repairable building so that he gets fair value. ( I see that land prices in Lichfield Street are now in excess of $1500 per sqm )

It is all depressingly familiar is it not!  Link Here to an opinion piece by Johnny Moore.   http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/9450518/This-is-theft-its-not-right

His summary of the situation is short and to the point:

“He had a perfectly good venue. It was damaged, sure, and he had plans to repair it. But it was part of some Master Plan and was compulsorily acquired at less than Bruce felt it was worth.

Now he has no building in which to house his business. He can’t put a venue back in the city because noise restrictions suggest nightclubs are unwanted.

He can’t open a club in some industrial area because the Local Alcohol Plan has suggested that late licences will not be granted outside of the CBD.

Then, just to kick a guy when he’s down, the Rebuild Gods are now seeking tenders for someone to develop the slick new bus exchange site to include hospitality.

I see that as stealing someone’s business and building, knocking it down and leasing the new space to some credit-rich developer to put his own bars in there that will be much nicer, safer and… boring.”

Christchurch is not a happy place for a small building owner to be….

On a more humourous note:  I had a visit yesterday from 2 lovely young men in high vis vests, of course!  They had come to disconnect the power in my house.   Luckily enough they had the sense to check to see if there was anyone at home!

Apparently I am not supposed to be living here!  whoops, SNAFU!

CCC Building consents………. For the record, no improvements here….

5.00 pm Wednesday 20th November 2013.

Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea culpa,

Grirr, that was fun was it not.  Building consents duty officer at the city council!  Unhelpful people.  I was attempting to see if we could get an exemption so that we could proceed with the gibing of our ceiling. It is holding up progress on the whole building.   One would think that that was not too hard!  Ceiling?  Gib… standard regulations….. 2 layers 16mm fyreline……   a no brainer…… will be signed off by Engineer anyway….

Nope “we are not amused!”

I hope they send me a wee survey to see how I think they managed my call. Probably like EQC my name will be deleted from those surveyed. lol.

Rigid, inflexible, unrealistic and lacking understanding of the issues of repairing an old dunger. I am still not sure that they want us to repair it actually.

One would have thought that given the exceptional circumstance in the city that a little flexibility was in order.  Instead I was made to feel like a criminal for asking for some leniency in what was actually not really as big a deal as they were making out.  For heavens sake we are talking gib here, not structural steel. I thought that the point of it all was to assist the building owners to move forward and “meet the needs of the city”, cut the red tape and inflexibility.  The Building consents department know that there is a city-wide problem with the DEE’s, a solution is: to use their brains and look at each case on a case by case basis.

I was amused by his challenging me on the fact that we are at 73% of the NBS. I think he thought I had made the figure up. I resent the implication.

It is interesting to note that I was told yesterday, by the Insurance Company, that many of the large project management companies have been routinely getting exemptions.  Oh the power of being a big company.

I was left with the feeling that it was all my fault that we did not have a DEE, it was my fault that we wanted to amend it, again…, and that it was pure incompetence on my part in  wanting to amend it a third time. Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea culpa.  I am also responsible for 12,000 earthquakes.

Anyway:  The up shot is: that they would not help us in any way. Very helpful.

I told him “I hated dealing with the building consent department as they were so anal.”  He put the phone down.  Good oh!  Does not help the progress of repairs in the city in any way.

I had hoped that they had improved procedures after the last time we dealt with them in  2010 when we got our original building consent. Looks like status quo and that no improvements have been made.  Mind you, I am somewhat confused as to why on the CCC website they have a Form B-004 called “Application for an exemption from building consent”.  It was not explained to me how in my case this would not apply! I am also aware that retrospective consents are common.

Some one prove me wrong please.  But it seems to me that as one of only a handful of building owners repairing a heritage building in the city a little bit of assistance would not be out-of-the-way. Or even an unreasonable request.

Why am I bothering???????  Some one remind me please??????

All it means is that the ply stays on the front of our building and I start to get the graffiti pen BACK out.

By the way, won’t I have fun when they put the tram down our street, I might just put roller doors on the frontage, nice bright lime green ones, that we leave down all day!  Don’t temp me!

By now the powers that be will have worked out that they can not put the tram down Tuam Street, as originally planned, (as it be facing 2 lanes of ongoing traffic.) The only option is to send it down High St and then send it back again down the other end of High Street.

Same crap, different day, different government department.

Hot off the Press!

9425777

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/city-centre/9425736/Park-bench-dedication-to-Gerry-Brownlee

Could not have put it better myself.  Not Guilty.   This time……..

This photo is courtesy of the press:

9356893http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/9426651/Brownlee-slams-council-housing-failure

From the man that reckoned that there was no housing crisis in the city to the man now berating the new council for “not acting fast enough”.  Go figure!

Limbo on High- after 998 days…….

Locked out of undamaged factory for 998 days – (since Feb 2011)

Do we still own our building????    Now 471 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1356 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.

I did have to chuckle when I saw Roger Sutton say that “Quake repairs ‘not fast enough’  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9395681/Quake-repairs-not-fast-enough-says-Sutton

He was mainly referring to residential repairs.  He is correct of course.  There would be very few residents on the east side of Christchurch who have not had an abysmal experience with EQC and their insurance companies. The lack of action by Government in sorting out the Insurance Industry and EQC is shameful.

Closer to home for me is the lack of progress on the Port Hills claims, it is an example that should never be repeated in New Zealand.

Roger Sutton also: “denied claims from MPs that Cera had a culture of knocking down buildings that didn’t fit the city’s blueprint.  

Hello?????   Calendar Girls building, Westend Building, Bicycle Thief to name a few. In the East frame,  NG building and Cassell’s are still threatened. And many others were pulled down before the blue print was released.  Very convenient for CERA.

Than we get: “Many buildings throughout Christchurch might appear solid enough, but the costs of rebuilding them did not stack up, he said.”

Humm: this hoary old chestnut,  they seem to think that if they repeat this often enough we will believe them.  The figures in many cases stack up.  Repair is cheaper. The costs of building foundations now make this comment even more relevant. (This is not so in all cases of course.)  In many cases buildings were pulled down before comprehensive assessments were done. In some cases before the owners were even informed.  “Make safe procedures” were also “performed” on many buildings, they were poorly thought out and in some cases far exceeded what was necessary.

Finally! yeah ha!

as of this morning,  Cunliffe breaks his self-imposed silence on the Christchurch situation: The headline?  Cunliffe’s recovery criticism ‘ridiculous’. 

(Funny is it not that Brownlee always attacks anyone that makes a negative comment about the situation in Christchurch. Typical of the bullying tactics that have been used by the Insurance companies, EQC, CERA, CCDU and others.)

Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9397762/Cunliffes-recovery-criticism-ridiculous

There is obviously a by-election coming in Christchurch!  But the silence of the opposition parties has been disturbing me for 3 years.  He remarked:

“I’m putting the Government on notice. I will be asking a hell of a lot of questions about the Christchurch recovery.”

I hope he keeps his word.  Three years is too long to wait.

“You have a minister who has the power of God, who is a human wrecking ball cutting a swathe through the centre of the city.”

“He was visibly gobsmacked when he looked at the central business district and could see little progress three years after the earthquakes first struck the city.” 

Gosh he must have come and looked at High Street.  Our own personal Limbo land”   trapped in a 3-year-old time warp, by CERA/CCDU and Building owner apathy.

I am thinking of renaming our block ” Limbo on High Street”.

Hows Progress on the building?

I am currently busy painting the ceiling in the toilet block. What fun!

In the weekend we are planning to sort out some frontage issues.

Overall? Stalled by:

  • the plaster not turning up
  • the builder not turning up
  • a lack of scaffolding for the plasterer. ( Out of stock!)
  • the lack of Engineering sign off
  • the lack of amended building consent
  • the lack of certainity on the fate of the “Innovation Precinct”

status normal!  Christchurch is stuffed.

ho humm