thechristchurchfiasco

"Shifting the Balance of Power in the insurance industry – back to the policyholders! "

Man Made Disaster (Part II)

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As someone who lives in the North Island, I am disgusted with Gerry Brownlie, Fletchers, Insurance Companies and the government that has allowed this situation to occur. Perception is everything and the perception is these people and companies are either not operating with Integrity or there are profiteering from a terrible disaster. The Chch rebuild as sad and terrible as it is, no one should be profiteering from this, but what profits there are should be shared around, not all with one company (Fletchers). Where are the politicians to stand up for these people? Why are we nearing the middle of 2014 and still we have people living in horrible conditions. Surely people need to come first!” GetRealNZ in http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10052676/Tools-down-builders-told

MBIE and BRANZ solutions have undoubtedly saved some design time, and enabled costs to be screwed down to a minimum, at least, to SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESmuch less than the cost of designing and repairing buildings adequately.

Those in Christchurch fixing the damaged properties reading the designers’ specifications will often not be familiar with the technical preconditions for repairs of the sort specified, as a consequence of government’s abandonment and denigration of expertise and workmanship. In addition the government has permitted developers and contractors to make even more cost savings, by omitting design professionals from their traditional site observation and authorisation roles. Even the traditional role of the Council building inspector has been short-circuited. And now EQC is simply cash-settling. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/10052676/Tools-down-builders-told).

The problem people face, is that they place reliance upon government regulations and government-funded building ‘science’, both of which are likely to fall well short of the mark as they did once before. I believe that what should be happening is that the Canterbury population should feel comfortable about relying upon the country’s primary building authorities. However in doing so now, it is likely to cost them dearly. Problems include flaws in design, products, workmanship, rules, checks and balances.

No doubt the built results will be inspected by local government officers, few of whom have the knowledge or training to determine what constitutes good construction and even fewer of whom were ever expected to look at earthquake damage scenarios, prior to certifying approval of the faulty construction they no doubt inspect as per the ‘leaky homes’ approvals. Along the way, major building industrialists have applied their significant financial and political leverage to having their attractively – priced solutions approved by the appropriate building industry authorities.

Building professionals, who had previously conducted their practices and businesses for decades without fault, may find themselves in the future suddenly with long lists of  litigation relevant to poorly-repaired building claims. They are likely to have to pay for their oversights for years to come.

Like the leaky building scenario, those litigated costs may amount to billions and force many companies into liquidation and many people into bankruptcy. The primary culprits (who happen to be the primary financial beneficiaries of the problematic repairs) – namely government, major building system suppliers and property developers; will no doubt use their financial resources to buy legal stances to ensure that they retreat unscathed from the whole dirty affair.

Many lives have already been ruined or badly damaged. Insurers are likely to scrutinizse ‘repair risks’ and no longer to offer cover for poorly repaired buildings.

Without any doubt, the repair disaster will be the direct result of a series of government bungles which started with the MBIE Guidelines to reduce EQC’s bill. The government should and must pay for its causative role in what will become the next big disaster/fiasco in Canterbury. But government costs are taxpayers’ costs, so we taxpayers will end up paying again in the long run!!

There is no need for the disaster which is rapidly building in the background. The faulty building methodologies, faulty regulations, faulty building science, faulty local government practices are here for all to see. There have also been numerous professionals who have put New Zealand’s building authorities on notice of the current problems and issues and requested that they address the problems before a disaster does ensue – but the government is quite happy to be deaf and blind as long as the immediate cost is contained and – after all, its not their homes at risk.

The cost to the country of the leaky home debacle is estimated at $11.5 billion the cost of shoddy repairs in Canterbury will make this figure look insignificant. Ironically the repair fiasco in Canterbury will enrich the Government by billions as the Government will reap at least 25c for every $1 spent of fixing the shoddy repairs from the GST and company tax paid on spending for materials and experts’ fees i.e. Architects, trades workers, labourers, timber, cladding, insulation, paint, window and roofing materials, wall linings, flashings and other goods all incur tax.

This National Government will have to accept its own liability for the deregulation experiment inflicted on the building industry and local government and ultimately take responsibility for the liability accumulated by the private sector builders, designers, architects and certifiers who will no doubt in the future become conveniently insolvent and unable to meet their responsibilities to ‘earthquake repaired’ home owners.

Unless we address these issues – such as the MBIE Guidelines –  and soon, the ratepayers of the new Christchurch will be burdened for years to come. The values of “suspect” but soundly-built ‘repaired’ houses will be written down in upcoming council rating valuations as a result of the stigma of the MBIE repair debacle – pushing up bills for other ratepayers. There will be and there already is buyer resistance against the types of homes implicated in the repair fiasco – which will ultimately result in a slashed valuation of properties where the repairs are  “suspicious”, regardless of whether or not there are in fact problems with the properties. The full extent of the damage already done will remain hidden and only be revealed as the years pass and the problems begin to present themselves. The final result will be falling capital values for already-reported badly repaired houses and thousands of other “suspect” properties in the ‘new’ Christchurch. The rates for these homes could drop and ironically other ratepayers will have to pay more because, whether or not their actual values do increase, the relativity gap will widen. The new council will use capital values to set its rates, and the higher the value of the property, the more rates a home-owner will pay.

NZ Building Act 2004, section 17 states: All building work must comply with the building code to the extent required by this Act, whether or not a building consent is required in respect of that building work. Any building work in relation to this house, including any reinstatement work, must therefore comply with NZ Building Code to the extent required by NZ Building Act. Due to the requirements for restricted building work (affecting structure), building consent shall be obtained prior to commencement of any reinstatement works.”

So Cantabrians – what are you going to do about this – its your future equity and major asset at stake. We all need to be talking about this – now – there’s no time to waste!!

What a lot of people don’t realise is when you go to sell your home in the future banks will require a builders report and that’s when the s**t will hit the fan- to quote a saying.Andrew Make (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/8949364/Quake-repairs-EQR-totally-incompetent).

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/perspective/6406474/Manifold-sins-cost-12-lives

 http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/work-drying-up-in-christchurch-builders-told-5974464

~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.

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Author: Sarah Miles

Trained as a lawyer, psychotherapist and mediator. My goal is to make my voice heard for the causes in which I believe so as to improve and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society. I believe in the enormous power of the human spirit and the power within each of us to effect major change. "The only triumph over evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing". https://thechristchurchfiasco.wordpress.com/

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