Please explain, couple tell EQC

MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 05:00 06/04/2013
 Linwood homeowners Philip Holdstock and Rachel Molloy
MARTIN VAN BEYNEN

DISCREPANCY: Linwood homeowners Philip Holdstock and Rachel Molloy want EQC to explain why the commission paid them $8000 when damage estimates to their home were more than $80,000.

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A Christchurch couple want an explanation as to why they were paid only $8000 from EQC when the embattled organisation's own estimates of the damage to the home were over $80,000, according to the infamous leaked email.

The email, containing details on 83,000 homes, in an embarrassing botch by a senior EQC manager was leaked last week, to EQC critic and Earthquake Services Ltd director Bryan Staples.

The Press has now seen the email and viewed the details for a house in Linwood belonging to Philip Holdstock and Rachel Molloy, who have owned the 95-year-old dwelling since 2005.

The couple are clients of Earthquake Services.

In September last year EQC sent Holdstock and Molloy cheques totalling $8147.65 in an apparent cash settlement for earthquake damage to their house.

The cheques were sent without documentation to explain the payment.

The leaked email, under a category headed EQC Reserve Building excluding Tax Amount, shows an allocation of $82,535.56 for the house.

"All we want is for EQC to explain the discrepancy," the couple say.

An EQC spokesman would say only: "We are comfortable that the final settlement is reasonable. Mediation is available in this case and we believe this is the best place to have their concerns aired."

Holdstock told The Press their property in Tilford St had been severely damaged by the earthquakes and had twice been fully assessed by EQC assessors and once by its land inspection team before the repair process started.

The land team said, in an April 2011 report, the ground under the house had lifted and had large cracks.

The house had shifted on its piles about 20mm-50mm to the south, the report said.

Although the house is nearly a century old, its modern concrete piles show it has been repiled. Holdstock and Molloy have been renovating the house but say they have always drawn a strong distinction between the renovation and earthquake damage.

Holdstock said the process seemed to become derailed in the middle of last year when EQC requested an engineer's report on "floor issues". Controversial EQC engineer Graeme Robinson, who is being investigated by his professional organisation IPENZ over a series of Christchurch complaints, visited the address in about August.

"He made me cry with this attitude," Molloy said.

The couple have laid a complaint about Robinson with EQC but have had no acknowledgement.

In September last year, the couple, fed up with Fletcher EQR, decided to opt out.

Only days after sending in the requisite forms they received "out of the blue" two cheques for a total of $8147.65, with a letter saying the payments were a final settlement but no explanation for the amounts.

The couple asked for a review and were told their request was in a queue and was waiting on "a policy decision from the executive leadership team". An experienced contractor, working from EQC's scope of works completed in July, 2011, gave Holdstock and Molloy a quote of $59,729 to fix the house including the floor.

In February this year Holdstock and Molloy started a mediation process after speaking to an EQC complaints investigator but in March the investigator emailed them to say the initial offer of mediation had been stopped until further information was received to counter Robinson's report.

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EQC has so far not released Robinson's report to the couple despite many requests.

"It's unbelievable," says Holdstock.

"We don't know what Robinson's report says so how can we show he made a mistake? With the amount of money that has been spent on our case, the house could have been fixed twice over."

Molloy says the couple now have to prove Robinson was wrong in his assessment of the floor pilings.

"We trusted EQC would see us right. We didn't realise we had to get reports and keep documents," she said.

- The Press

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