Firmer figures reduce house repair total

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014

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The number of houses to be repaired by the Earthquake Commission has dropped because original numbers were estimates, it says.

In late 2011, when EQC engaged Fletcher Building to project manage repairs under $100,000, the numbers EQC and Fletchers talked about were 100,000 homes with an average repair cost of $30,000.

EQC spokesman Iain Butler said yesterday the initial 100,000 figure was an estimate.

The total eligible for repair was 80,182. They were homes with damage of more than $15,000. Those with damage under $15,000 are being cash settled.

Some of the reasons for the reduction in the number of home repairs was that homes had more damage than initially assessed in 2011 and ended up over the $100,000 cap. Customers also chose to opt out of the repair programme.

"Houses came out of the programme at a fairly constant rate from that time till now for a whole variety of reasons, a lot of them because customers wanted to opt out either partially or fully."

Yesterday a story in The Press said that it appeared that EQC was choosing to cash settle more repair claims to speed up the home repair programme.

Butler said that was inaccurate.

"Unequivocal, we will do the repairs. If it takes us longer, that's what we will do. If they want to opt out, then they've got the ability to opt out.

"But that's their decision, and so to suggest that's somehow a thing we are doing to speed up the settlements in order to get to the target is completely disingenuous, because we don't control the rate that customers decide to opt out, it's completely their decision."

Butler said EQC had cash settled 11,883 houses that were eligible to be repaired, out of the total of 80,182. The 11,883 have repairs of more than $15,000.

The majority of those cash settled were at the customer's choosing, Butler said.

Only 600 were not, because the homes were deemed not eligible for repair because of pre-existing conditions. Another 2000 were deemed over cap, having been previously assessed as under cap.

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