How not to Repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch Central City. part 142….

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1157 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 630 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1197 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by the  CCDU. There is now the possibility that this designation will be lifted in July!
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February?   March ?? Nope its to be July 2014!!!!
  • High Street Building amendment details at council. Another request for Further Information regarding a gib ceiling. This one requires an updated Fire Report amendment.  Back to the Engineer.  (Has been at consents since 26 January 2014) I am increasingly suspicious the the CCC has lost ALL our original paper work.
  • Building Consent for my new house 121 working days so far.-I suspect that the building company is not uplifting it until the site is clear.  It has taken Arrow International 9 weeks to get the site clear. Humm that does not bode well!P1000023I have just read an excellent summary on “The Politicisation of CERA” By Barnaby Bennett.  He sums up the issues carefully and clearly.”Around two-thirds of the new central city are government or council-led projects. This is political. The forced purchase of massive parts of the city to make way for high-end apartments (this is what is now happening to the green-frame) is political. The government not opening up the redzone in the city and keeping Cathedral square closed (allegedly because they didn’t want people protesting in the square) is political. CERA re-tweeting the announcements of the National Party is political. I’ve been told by a senior member of the CCDU that the decisions being made at both CERA and CCDU are more about pleasing the minister than making the right decisions for Christchurch. This is political.”This blog is well worth a read. I await his part 2 with interest. Link here: 
  • On the same theme: It is apparent that there is increasing frustration amongst the building owners and developers in the city about the CCDU/CERA’s ability to proceed forward.
    One city developer has commented: “Overseas developers would be “stupid” to invest in Christchurch because Government officials do not engage with locals wanting a piece of the multibillion-dollar rebuild, a frustrated city developer claims.”   Link here:
  • I also notice that the “Poster Boy” of the Rebuild, has struck a snag.  CERA has ad nauseamtouted Gough as the “saviour” of the city.   Let me just say that the bars and cafes that occupied his land on the aptly named “Strip” targeted young people,  it was an “alcohol fueled zone” To be avoided by any one over the age of 21 at night.  I suspect that he is having trouble finding tenants willing to pay the rentals that he is demanding. Rumour has it that it does not stack up economically. This is no surprise as building costs here are rising by 15% a year.  Peeps in the know guess that he is playing a game with CERA.  I suspect he wants a guarantee of government tenancies in his building.   Link here: have been a number of interesting articles lately, this one by Rob Hall, talking about the wastefulness of chucking 120 years of infrastructure into the rubbish tip, a subject that is often being discussed here. “The sustainable and economic reuse of building materials and the retention of large masonry structures represents a significant amount of embodied carbon, energy and economic value. If demolished and removed from the CBD, there is an added and ongoing financial and environmental cost to the recovery.”  Link here:

    Also a some what light weight but readable article by Peter Robb, reflecting on his impressions of the city.  Link here.

    Rosa Shiels has been talking about the Heritage Buildings left in the city.  She refers to “saving the city’s soul.”  I think the city’s soul is changed forever.  We will need to find a new one. “The list of what has gone is enough to induce dyspepsia and the scale of the physical damage is still bewildering. Road works and detours are plentiful, street signs are few. It is easy to get lost. Giant cranes  scribe the skyline.” Link Here:

    I have also recently had my arm twisted and was talked into doing a Deputation to the Christchurch City Council Community Committee, I went in with the objective of telling them the reality of trying to do repairs in  the central city, below is a copy of the speech notes. Sorry, boring I know, but this is for historical purposes only.

    14th April 2014

    Thank you for granting my request for a Deputation to update you about the Duncan’s Buildings in lower High St, opposite the Poly Jazz school

    Firstly I would like to thank Dave Hinman, the Urban Regeneration Team and the C.C.C. Heritage Team for their support, encouragement and assistance throughout the last 3 years.. This support and encouragement has been gratefully received.

    I request that this Committee formally ensure the CCC Staff are made aware of our grateful thanks and acknowledgement of their efforts.

    Also we wish to acknowledge the grant from the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Fund.  It was used to help pay for the repairs to our party walls.

    I am delighted to see that there has been a CCC submission (draft Heritage and Cultural Recovery Programme) that ” CERA work with Council to establish High Street as a special heritage recovery zone”.
    I would like to formally endorse the High Street section of the submission and thank the Councillors for their efforts in recognizing our special circumstances and ensuring that High Street quickly returns as a fully functioning “Heritage Gem.”

    I would like to talk about the reality of the situation in Lower High St.   I refer only to the Duncan’s buildings, opposite the poly tech.

    Their are 16 Units, some are double units.  There were 9 building owners.  At least 6 + units are now in the hands of the CCDU.

    1. We are in the “Innovation precinct”.  (CCDU cannot still tell us what this means.) We have a designation hanging over our building ie possible acquisition. CERA may be going to lift these in July.  CERA has paralysed progress for over 2 years. Until such a time as some certainty is given these buildings are unsaleable and un tenantable.

    2. There are only 2 building owners actively trying to do repairs.  – 5 building owners unwilling to do repairs/restoration.

    3. We are waiting on a building amendment so we can finish the downstairs area. We have gone “Green” at 73% of NBS.  CERA has accepted this. But…..

    4. Cera refuses to lift the Section 45 “dangerous building” notice because of “unsafe neighbours”.  So all our work over the last 3 years is pointless.

    5. As an aside:  We recently received an email from CCC “Asset Protection”.  The fencing surrounding our buildings belongs to the Ministry of Civil Defence, they wish to recover it.  CCC will now be charging per sq metre, a rental for replacement fencing, plus any parking fees that we may be evading.  This includes charging for any extra security construction fencing etc that may be on the footpath.

    6. On the 13th march I was “summoned” by the CCDU and shown a plan for a “privately developed” lane way at the back of the Duncan’s buildings. If I want to comment, I may put my submission in when it goes out for public submissions in July.  There was  no complimentary traffic plan for High Street.
    An Urban Regeneration Team contact has informed me they were not aware of the plans by CCDU.

    Is there some way that the CCC team can be included in the design of this lane way,, a roading plan needs to be done in conjunction with the lane way proposal.  In my view the lane way should be a service and pedestrian  lane way, not just a pedestrian lane way,  especially seeing we are going to be the tram terminus.

    Note:  Lane way, although in the future it may be necessary and securing the land makes sense.  it does not seem to me to be particularly high on the “must have now” list…. We have a 50m wide strip of bare land behind us already!

    I request this Committee use every means at their disposal to ensure that CCDU work with the Buildings owners and the CCC Urban Regeneration Team to produce a practical and achievable plan that protects and enhances High Streets special heritage qualities.

    7.The CCDU maintains that they will be doing some basic strengthening on the frontages of the Duncans Buildings that they own, 6+?  then on selling them.  Time line – uncertain.

    8.  Because of the uncertainty surrounding the back access to our building I am unable to proceed with the repairs/redesign of the back  of our “lean too” area.  It depends on which plan the CCDU  decides on.

    A Number of observations:

    • The lack of progress with the Mckenzie and Willis site is having a flow on effect.
    • The party wall legislation is hopelessly out of date and in effective.
    • The red stickering of our entire building was unnecessary.  This procedure needs looking at.
    • The proliferation of bars in the area needs to be carefully considered
    • The trees  in the street have to go, they are too big and inappropriate.
    • -I spend a good proportion of every day trying to explain to the tourists what is happening in the street, it is totally incomprehensible to them and us.
    • -This block needs more intervention and the absent building owners need to be forced to act.
    • -The “Innovation” label is misleading.  Why not rename the area ” Start-up zone”  or  something similar and have an “anything goes attitude”.  This would allow the  “bohemians” in the city to create an area with a edgy “grain” to it. ie Encourage the use of containers,  garages, sheds, relocated houses, stalls,  anything that works, put up a public toilet block if you have to,  but please do something. In time it could develop into a fun, grainy, edgy area.

    Thank you for hearing my Deputation.

    This was picked up by Lois Cairns at the Press, so my infamy continues I am afraid.
    Link here:

    The problem is of course that the abridged version lacks much of the detail that is needed to fully understand what is happening here.  Oh well I can’t worry about that!

    Any way:
    Hows the building:

    We are stalled again.

    • I am awaiting the engineers amended Fire Report, for a “Request for further information” from Building consents.  In the last 3 years the fire safety legislation has changed and we need to do an update.  I think it means the addition of smoke detectors and slightly different gib specifications. ( I am not sure but I suspect that the CCC has lost some of our documentation, this is very likely as the January 2011 Amendment that we put in was probably on some ones desk when we had the February 2011 quake  I suspect that it may still be there as they did not re-enter that building.
    •  We are on leak detection work again as we try to work out where the water is coming from!
    •  We have been working on sealing, draft stripping and paint stripping.
    • We have had the solid plasterer on the top of the building doing some weather proofing.  We are awaiting a fine day, for some plasterering work to be done on the frontage.
    • We have fixed the store room ceiling and put the shelving back into the store room to try to make some space.
    • We have been dealing with the insurance company and lawyers.
    •  We are awaiting CERA’s decision about our opening up proposal.  They have not made a decision about the outstanding Section 45 “unsafe neighbours.”  My argument is they have had 3 years warning of what we are doing, now get cracking on doing something.   A CCC  “Urban Regeneration Advisor” has been working on a proposal for containers and fencing.  We are grateful for their support and assistance.
    • I am thinking of opening up as a “house of ill repute”  nothing else is going to bring customers into this area of demolition and neglect.!

    Whoops its raining again.  The leak detection team needs to spring back into action.


  • Another day in the life of some crazy building owners in the Central city!

CCDU has purchased One property…. thats Progress for them…

Locked out of Undamaged building: 698 days

Do we still own our building? 171 days  ( 4 1/2 years to go)

Believe it or not, we made some progress last week.  We now have a repaired concrete floor in the downstairs shop area.  Hard to get excited about eh!  The roofer is AWOL so we can not get the ceilings or wooden floors repaired until he has been.  (The roof is still leaking.)  And so we wait and wait and wait….  (This is a direct result of the Accredited contractor situation which is cumbersome and has slowed repairs.)

Interesting is it not the CERA closes the Red Zone from the 21 December 2012 – 7th January 2013.  Productivity????   Whats that?  Also Interesting that there has suddenly been discussion on the lack of productivity in the building industry. Mostly in regard to residential housing.

An overly conservative Engineering evaluation ????   I was in Okains Bay a few weeks ago and I notice that the old school hall has been red stickered.  Weatherboard and corrugated iron roof, single storey.   Hello????  Better pull down every house in Christchurch???  Link Here:

I  also had to laugh when I read in the Press about unhappy workers in crowded offices. Many people are having to commute across the city to the business parks near the airport to get to work. It is a slow and painful process getting across the city. The workers I have spoken too are very unhappy and many are looking for work closer to home. Link here:

The lack of progress in even opening up the CBD area is a city-wide joke now.  The business people I have spoken too now just shrug their shoulders and say:  “get out of there.”  I wish I could.  The standard reply I get is a take on the Tui Bill Boards.

Recovery?   Yeah Right.

25.1.13 I have just had my first chuckle for the day!  After all the hype, and many months of negotiation, it appears that the CCDU has purchased one property.  As far as I can work out many are headed for court.  One could speculate that the process is obviously flawed. Given the way they have been handling the negotiations this really is a no brainer! One of the problems here is that the smaller land owners do not have enough funds to take them to court.  This is going to force many into a “fire sale situation.”

“Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee released figures yesterday showing negotiations were under way to buy 177 of the 847 sites needed for the green frame and anchor projects. As well, one site has been bought, two sales agreements completed, 16 sale and purchase documents signed by owners and agreement in principle reached with 19 parties.” Link here:

A very interesting piece in the Christchurch Press  about the benefits of lifting the earthquake-prone building threshold from 33% to 67%.  A British risk management expert, Tony Taig, argues that it is of questionable benefit. His argument is that “no building that had been strengthened to the 33% level or better collapsed and killed anyone in the Canterbury earthquake on February 22, 2011”.  Link here:

I have been pondering the reasons for the decision by CERA to demolish most of the CBD Buildings rather than let them be repaired and strengthened.  The conclusion I have come to is that there must have been a high level meeting between some Engineers, Cera, the government (and others?) a few days after the earthquakes.  Someone has made a conscious policy decision to follow this path. The destruction of the infrastructure has been staggering.  I would like to know who was at this meeting and what justification they had to follow this path.   I think history will not treat them kindly.

Its a sunny day, its not shaking, so its got to be a good day.

Beginners Guide to being Red Stickered In Christchurch CBD…

This is going to happen all over the country now as the Councils start to inspect buildings. They are in panic mode after years of neglect, poor building standards and land lord inaction. So all you building and Business owners in old (and new buildings) give this some thought, because it might just make the difference.

What is going to happen is that every land lord that owns a Brick building is going to be inspected, what the land owners have not realised yet is that unless their buildings are earthquake strengthened these buildings will soon be unable to be rented out as tenants vote with their feet.  Also insurance of these buildings is going to become impossible. As will insurance for the occupiers of these buildings.

So here is the basic things to look out for.

1.  If your building is brick, commonly referred to as a URM ( Unreinforced masonry)-  look at the parapets, ( the frilly bits at the top of the building) do they show any cracks? Or is it leaning in any way?  Sorry I don’t know anything about concrete structures, expect to say get them checked for the ties between the floors, ceilings and walls!

2. On a URM, Can you scrape out the mortar from between the bricks, use a screw driver? If yes get it inspected.  ( Rip of the gib lining if you have too, get digging!)

3. Does your building have any horizontal/vertical cracking showing in the brick work, or are there orange looking bricks in the walls that look odd and out of place or badly cracked bricks?

4. Is there a large URM next door to you that has dangerous parapets?  If yes, ring the council and ask for an inspection.  (It might just fall on you and your staff or customers)

If you answer yes to any of these demand a Level 2 Assessment (a basic inspection) from a Structural Engineer (CpENG)  or better still a more detailed  DEE (Detailed Engineering Evaluation) or demand that your landlord provide proof that the building is safe, ask to see a COPY of the Assessments. If they refuse to provide one move out!

If the powers that be come and close your building down, you rarely get much warning, so you need a PLAN! Unfortunately we did not have one, although we did get our computers out which was a life saver, and we did a few raids and got 2 ute loads of stock, while the city was in chaos, you might not get the same opportunities that we did.  ( Might I point out that we were not foolhardy, we knew that the section of the building we were entering was earthquake strengthened, DO NOT ENTER if it is dangerous, you must make that call based on sound knowledge.)

1. Work out what you must have to keep your business going! (Stock, computers, files, tools ??? etc)

2. Allocate each of your staff members a task as they leave the building. ie  Joe takes the accounting computer, Lisa the wage book and disks and Michael all the tools of trade that he can carry. etc

3. Allocate one staff member to the Fill the wheelie bins, tip out the rubbish, who cares, you are going to need those files, stock or tools, whatever is the most important for you…

Take: All the accounts payable/receivable, wage books, work in progress, Invoices to be charged out, Insurance files, back up disks, master software. Hard drives, (don’t worry about the screens or keyboards) just grab the drives and as much of your stock as you can get your staff to carry out of the building.  Take as much of your personal stuff as you can find, ie passports, keys, safe. etc  Any antiques that may be in the building.  Anything valuable, because when you come back it will have been looted.  Make sure the staff take their bags!

Make 15 trips if you have too and dump the stuff in the street if you have too, there is a strong possibility that you will not be allowed back into the building legally.  Throw it over the fence, out the window, do whatever you have to do to give yourself a chance of surviving.

What is now happening in CHCH is that they are alarming the vacant buildings so that if you re-enter a silent alarm goes off and you will be escorted out by the Nanny Police.

4.  Leave a door/window unlocked or leave your self a way back in (not too obvious) because there is nothing surer than you will have forgotten something and if you can you may have to make a raid.  If you have to raid your building put on a hard hat, boots and a fluro vest, do it in daylight!  Mid day is good!  The more people around the merrier.  Take someone who looks official, ie a grey haired Official type looking person!   Get them to stare knowledgeably at the building, preferably with a clip board in hand.   Have one person standing watch in a vehicle with a mobile phone, so you get a few seconds warning, if you have to duck to the floor!  And look at it this way, what is the Judge going to say when you stand in front of him and say ” but I was taking my own stock your honour, I was robbing my own building!”

When we raided ours, we were crawling along the floor, laughing so much we were crying, throwing files into boxes and passing them over the back fence!  This should not have been necessary.

I look forward to the day that they arrest me! In fact I wish they had.  Who is going to lock up a “grey haired little old lady”  lol!  Very bad Press!

One other thing, think very seriously about whether you really need to be in the CBD, as that is the area that will be locked down, be it Auckland, Wellington or Dunedin!  the powers that are in charge are totally inflexible and risk adverse, so think about your location.

If I have any other thoughts I will add them!

I hope you never have to do this! But be warned, if you are in a URM it just might happen!