Jackup cheaper than a rebuild

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A high-lift jack is tested on a Rolleston house.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A high-lift jack is tested on a Rolleston house.

Jacking earthquake-damaged Canterbury homes up to 3 metres off the ground could save hundreds from the scrapheap.

Smith Crane and Construction has developed a high-lift jack that can lift damaged houses so their foundations can be repaired.

Building relocation manager Brent Smith said the company designed the jack specifically to help with the quake recovery.

"It took us about 18 months to develop and get right," he said.

The technology had the potential to save hundreds of homes that had been deemed beyond repair.

"There were so many homes that we saw last year that could have been saved if we had applied this method.

"There are a lot more that could be saved if we do," Smith said.

The cost of using the technology for repairs was about half of what it would cost to demolish the house and start again, he said.

"It does have the potential to save a lot of money."

The company was testing the jack on a Rolleston house.

Smith said the company was "working through" a big contract with an insurance company to apply the jack to more than 200 houses.

"This is a test case . . . If it's a success, we would replicate the jack and apply it on a much wider scale," he said.

IAG Canterbury recovery executive general manager Dean MacGregor said house-lifting was common in New Zealand, but not to the scale being considered for Canterbury.

Discussions with lifting contractors had been under way for "several months" and the strategy factored into damage assessments, he said.

"From our perspective, it certainly won't change our view on whether the home is repairable or not," MacGregor said.

"Where the foundation is damaged beyond repair, then it's certainly a potential solution in those situations." The option was less likely for the most damaged technical-category-3 land.

"As the complexity increases, then it becomes more difficult, so it might be that it's not viable in every situation," MacGregor said.

The Press