EQC foundation repair shortcomings revealed

A survey of 101 house repairs in Canterbury found shortcomings with foundation work.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

A survey of 101 house repairs in Canterbury found shortcomings with foundation work.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) will review thousands of underfloor repairs after a Government investigation found shortcomings.

All EQC underfloor repairs carried out without a building consent will be checked, and builders found to be at fault might face sanctions.

The measures come after a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) review of 101 Canterbury homes repairs revealed deficient underfloor work.

Foundation specialist Bevan Craig said the survey, which was based on a pool of properties pre-selected by EQC and insurers, was "the very diluted tip of a very big iceberg". 

The review's results were expected at the end of June, but  were delayed.

After information on the results was leaked, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement the survey had identified shortcomings with underfloor repairs.

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Most, but not all, of the properties inspected were part of EQC's managed repair programme, he said.

The MBIE report has yet been finalised, but authorities had already planned action following the findings.

EQC would review all properties in its managed repair programme where structural underfloor repairs were carried out without a building consent, Brownlee said.

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It would ensure they were code-compliant at no cost to property owners.

In addition, MBIE would investigate "what recourse it can take against licensed building practitioners whose work has not been up to scratch".

No repair work posing a risk to homeowners or occupants had been identified, he said.

"I can't say any more at this stage, as MBIE's work is not yet complete."

MBIE and EQC would not comment before the final report was completed. 

Craig said he was not surprised by the findings.

He and other independent experts had been raising foundation repair issues with EQC, MBIE and insurers for the past four years.

Thousands of homeowners would be affected, he said.

For Craig, the root of the problem was in MBIE's quake repair guidelines interpreting the building code.

Failed repairs were not the builder's fault, he said, because the work had been wrongly assessed.

Canterbury Communities' Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN) spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said many homeowners had been waiting anxiously for the report.

"The noise that will come out of the community [because of the findings] will be such that there will be groups that are worried."

CanCERN had been working with MBIE to help them consider the community's perspective on the results.

She was afraid homeowners would "freak out" at the shortcomings and was advocating for support services to be put in place to give homeowners clear directions on what to do.

CanCERN had been raising concerns about structural repairs for years, Curtis said.

EQC needed to review its processes, she said.

MBIE launched the review earlier this year after a check of work at 14 properties revealed quality and building code problems at 13 of them. 

The survey reviewed completed repair work that was exempt from requiring a building consent. 

 - Stuff

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