EQC refuses to revisit jack and pack repair but then changes stance

Jennifer Dalziel believes her house is still sinking into her TC3 land despite EQC repairing her foundations twice.

Jennifer Dalziel believes her house is still sinking into her TC3 land despite EQC repairing her foundations twice.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) refused to revisit a homeowner's jack and pack repair, despite promises to address shoddy foundation work, but then appeared to change its stance when challenged.

Jennifer Dalziel's Christchurch home, which sits on TC3-graded land, was repaired in April 2011 and again in 2014 after it sank back following the June and December 2011 quakes.

The jack and pack technique involves lifting parts of a floor and inserting material between piles and framing to make it level.

She believes her house is still sinking. Her doors will not shut properly and cracks are opening up in the footpath.

Her concerns come as a digger sank into the mud this week while preparing the ground for piles on a TC3 section. The digger was still stuck on site on Wednesday.

Thousands of quake-damaged properties sit on TC3 land, the most-damaged green zoned land, where the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and building guidelines say site-specific geotechnical investigation and engineering foundation design are required before foundations can be repaired.

However, EQC said on Wednesday it was not compulsory for all TC3 foundation repairs. Decisions were made on a "case-by-case basis", a spokesman said.

Supervising solicitor for the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) John Goddard said TC3 repairs done without the required investigations were "extremely common".

"The courts have said consistently that the land is a platform for the house and insurance companies and EQC can't ignore that."

The digger incident "emphasises the need to assess what's happening with TC3 sites", he said.

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Dalziel said EQC never did a geotechnical investigation starting the repairs.

After the first jack and pack repair in April 2011, the house "sunk in all the same places again and in other places" after the June and December 2011 quakes.

EQC came back in 2014 and jack and packed nearly two thirds of the house without a building consent or exemption, she said.

"And now the house is still sinking."

Dalziel lodged a complaint with EQC in May 2015, which was rejected.

Dalziel asked EQC this month to check her repairs again and Monday received a response confirming her foundation work would not be revisited because damage was "not the direct result of an earthquake and relates to previously existing issues".

After inquires on Wednesday, EQC said her house was "within the scope of the properties that we will review".

"We are still assessing relative priority and cannot confirm a timeframe at this stage," it said.

In August, EQC promised it would check unconsented foundation repairs on 3600 properties.

The commission pledged to fix faulty repairs, thought to be present in about 1200 properties, at no cost to homeowners.

The promises came after a Government investigation revealed a third of the 90 quake repairs inspected were not compliant with the building code. A further 23 had "minor defects" and most were managed by EQC's home repair programme. 

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said this month EQC had identified 2100 homes where the jack and pack method had been used, but a "definitive number" of how many were substandard was still unknown.


Following the Canterbury quakes, green zoned land was divided into three technical categories (TC) describing how the land is expected to perform in future quakes.

TC1: Future land damage from liquefaction is unlikely.

TC2: Minor to moderate land damage from liquefaction is possible in future significant earthquakes. 

TC3: Moderate to significant land damage from liquefaction is possible in future significant earthquakes. TC3 houses requiring foundation repairs or new foundation require site-specific geotechnical assessment and specific engineering foundation design to be compliant with the building code.

Source: cera.govt.nz/residential-green-zone-technical-categories/overview

 - Stuff


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