EQC boss visits Seddon
The Earthquake Commission is expecting up to 15,000 claims as a result of the July and August earthquakes, with about a third of those coming from Marlborough.
Commission chief executive Ian Simpson was in Seddon yesterday to inspect some of the damage caused by the Cook Strait [July 21] and Grassmere [August 16] earthquakes.
Mr Simpson held a public meeting at the Awatere Community Hub, on Foster St, before visiting three properties with significant quake damage.
About 30 people attended the meeting.
Mr Simpson expected the claims process to take about six months and said the commission would be making cash settlements.
That was the quickest way for people to get their money, he said.
People could make a claim for each earthquake that caused damage to their house, he said.
One woman asked how the commission defined an earthquake and if a 5.0 magnitude aftershock qualified.
There was no exact definition but an earthquake event was anything that caused damage to your house, Mr Simpson said.
"Because all the earthquakes happened so close together, even if you claim for August, you are covered for everything."
Carl Jackson asked if he needed a new building consent to change the outside of his house from brick to wood cladding. Mr Jackson had rental properties in Seddon but no longer wanted a brick exterior as a result of the quakes, he said.
Marlborough District Council recovery manager Dean Heiford said a change in cladding might trigger a new building consent.
That would be looked at on a case by case basis, he said.
"If you are changing like for like, then you don't need a consent," he said. "If you are changing your cladding or making significant changes to the building, we need to chat with each individual as they come in. If it becomes an issue, council will put systems in place to make it as speedy as possible but we still have to follow legislation."
Mr Jackson said he was not anticipating any work done on his property before Christmas.
"EQC are on site and that's great but we have to wait for an assessment, wait for them to make a decision and then apply for a building consent which could take six weeks."
Mr Simpson said it was the commission's job to return properties to their pre-quake state.
He then visited the home of Sam and Jasmine Orchard, who leased their property from Mr Orchard's grandfather.
Council building inspectors deemed the house uninhabitable the day after the Grassmere earthquake but they were still waiting for an official EQC assessment. They were living in a caravan on the front lawn.
Mrs Orchard said she found yesterday's meeting helpful and realised everybody had the same concerns.
Marlborough District councillor Peter Jerram said he was disappointed that councillors were only notified of the meeting on Friday afternoon and called for a followup meeting, one that was better advertised, and in the evening.
Mr Simpson agreed to revisit Seddon at a later date.
There have been 4821 claims for the Cook Strait quake and 1705 from the Grassmere quake so far.
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