Rebuild set to spawn the 'Cantabrian'

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 20/10/2012
The Queenslander house
NEW NORMAL: TC3 residents may have to get used to the idea of a 'Cantabrian' house much in the same way as the 'Queenslander', pictured, has been accepted.

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Christchurch residents with TC3 land must embrace the earthquake-resilient homes dubbed "Cantabrians" and move away from their favoured heavy, brick houses, an insurance leader says.

AMI's claims management company, Southern Response, has released its plan for rebuilding on technical category (TC) 3, or "green-blue" land.

Chief executive Peter Rose said customers rebuilding with the company would be encouraged to adopt "TC3-friendly" designs, with stronger foundations, lighter-weight materials and regular floor shapes.

"If somebody didn't have that type of design before, we're going to be flexible . . . and allow them to build something that will be more earthquake-resilient.

"We want people to be able to be insurable."

Designs would be based on the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) foundation guidelines, which favour lighter-weight, quake-resilient materials.

That would need "a significant change of mindset" for some, Rose said. "What [Cantabrians] saw as their traditional brick-and-tile home . . . that's going to be difficult to put back on TC3 [land]."

In its place should be "the Cantabrian", he said.

"[It's] something which is respected and sought-after by people in Canterbury, but it's not what they had before."

Rose likened the idea of a characteristic Canterbury house to Australia's "Queenslander" - a house built on stilts to combat hot weather and flood risk.

"People in Queensland build a certain sort of house. Our notion is to have the Cantabrian," he said.

DBH chief engineer Mike Stannard said a characteristic Christchurch build-style could emerge. "The idea of a ‘Cantabrian' house which is more earthquake-resilient is absolutely sound.

"It might become a marketing exercise or something."

The earthquakes had shown lighter-weight building materials, particularly on roofs, were a must, he said.

"Certainly, brick veneer has been quite popular in Christchurch, the English-country sort of look. The earthquake has demonstrated quite clearly that lightweight materials have performed a lot better."

Southern Response customers would be sent information on how to get into a "build queue" from next week. Those who had already been sent an offer but were yet to make a decision would get letters first.

"The difference between the people we've offered to and the number of people who have made a decision is quite an alarmingly high number," Rose said. Eighty-one per cent of TC3 customers had received a settlement offer, but only 36 per cent had accepted.

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Some of the remainder would be apprehensive about rebuilding, Rose said.

"There's a whole bunch of other people who think the sky has fallen in. It's that bunch of people whose minds we're trying to change."

Southern Response predicts about 1600 of its 2400 customers will rebuild with the company. More than 600 properties on TC3 land are already in its pre-design and build queues.

- Canterbury

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