Block of flats a mix of repairs, demolition
Flats on a Christchurch property are earmarked for demolition despite being connected to two others the Earthquake Commission says are repairable.
The St Albans address has five flats, all connected, with a three-car garage underneath the middle one.
The Geraldine St flats are owned in a cross-lease, meaning the five owners share ownership of the land and each leases their house from the other four.
This complicates things when earthquake damage is assessed as the building is one structure, owned five ways, with no body corporate to act as a single point of negotiation.
These are their stories:
■ FLAT 1
Carolyn Foss, property manager for her son, a policeman in Queensland
Flat 1 has a crack in the bathroom floor that has "widened considerably" since the February 2011 earthquake, Foss says.
The crack may run under a load-bearing wall into the living room.
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) plans to remove the wall to check.
"How are they going to do that with the cross-lease situation? What's going to be left when they take away the roof and the walls?" Foss said.
The property has been assessed as repairable by the EQC, but Foss was concerned about the commission's answers when she asked about further inspections and how the neighbouring flat's problems affected her situation. "[EQC] sort of scratched their heads and said it doesn't sound the best," she said. "They said, ‘Ring your insurer'. I rang the insurer, but of course they're not interested because EQC have put it under cap. It doesn't make any sense. I can't believe it."
■ FLAT 2
Owner could not be contacted. The Press understands it is to be a demolition.
■ FLAT 3 Wayne Bishop, insured with IAG, red-stickered by the Christchurch City Council
Bishop has barely set foot in his house since the February 2011 quake.
Deemed by the council as too dangerous to enter, most of his possessions are still inside, delaying an EQC contents payout.
The risk meant an assessor for his insurance company recommended demolition "sooner rather than later", he said, but attempts at communication with other properties' insurers left his case manager "banging his head against a wall".
"They say she [the flat] is buggered, but the insurance companies won't talk to each other," he said. "Any time that IAG tried to speak to AMI or Southern Response, they say it's confidential, we can't discuss it.
"It's a matter of the two of them knocking their heads together and getting an agreement."
Bishop has replaced his contents out of his own pocket while he awaits demolition.
"It's been a pain but I don't worry about it any more. I've given up worrying."
■ FLAT 4 Brenda Coster, property manager for British-based owners
Coster's clients moved to Britain shortly before the February 2011 quake.
Acting on their behalf, she is dealing with Southern Response (AMI's claims management company) on the building's future. It has been deemed a total loss. "The [concrete] slabs are cracked underneath quite severely," she said. "There's land damage and there's severe cracking inside. It's safe to live in but it has to come down."
Coster has dealt only with the EQC and the insurer and was not aware of any co-operation to determine how each flat's fate affected the others.
"There's no communications between anyone. I've heard no feedback from other insurance companies about what's happening."
Coster was unaware that flat 5 was an EQC repair job and was to stay standing while the one she managed is to be demolished.
"That's going to be interesting. How are they going to do that?"
■ FLAT 5 Beverley Blair, flat repairable and under EQC's $100,000 damage threshold
When the February 2011 quake hit Blair's house, "the ceiling went up and down and the walls went in and out", but there was little damage.
"It really is cosmetic," she said, pointing to cracks in her interior walls, although liquefaction meant 2 hours of silt shovelling in the backyard for the retiree.
The EQC inspected her house a second time last month and concluded it could be repaired for less than $100,000. However, the process was not without its faults, Blair said.
The other four flats were inspected together much earlier, and after a long wait she had to convince an EQC representative her flat was not the fifth of six, and nor did it have a tin roof.
"Every voice you hear tells you something different."
One of her EQC assessors told her the units' concrete slab floors were poured after the walls were erected, she said, and this separation would make individual demolitions easier.
She is confident her unit will be repaired and is prepared to wait, but is uneasy about what demolitions will mean for her living situation. "Once they start taking those three down, I won't be able to live here. How long will that take? Who will pay for me to go out of it?"
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