Baby likely to arrive before quake repairs

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 08:27 04/12/2013
CHARLOTTE MAYNE
DEAN KOZANIC
CHARLOTTE MAYNE: "With a baby due we want to have this done."

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Charlotte Mayne thought she had been patient. As she watched houses being repaired around her, Mayne did not kick up a fuss.

There was not much that fazed her, she said. But now, six months pregnant after a lengthy, expensive and stressful IVF process, Mayne was beyond frustrated.

She and her partner's Lyttelton home fell into the Earthquake Commission's "serious repair" category - more than $50,000, but below $100,000.

Yesterday, after months of wrangling with the commission to get their property repaired, Mayne was not surprised to learn that EQC had admitted it would not make its 2013 deadline for homes in that category.

When it was launched in December 2011, the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP) target for completing homes with more than $50,000 damage was June 2013. This was later revised to December 2013. But as of November 1, there were still 2654 homes with damage greater than $50,000 yet to have repairs begin.

"With a baby due we want to have this done," Mayne said.

Her case had bounced around engineers and architects over disputes about the 19th century home's foundations and its chimney.

It was easy to get lost in the detail, Mayne said. All she cared about now was making sure they had a room for their baby in March.

EQC customer services general manager Bruce Emson said he was "confident" that the overall programme was progressing as planned.

However, he acknowledged that was little comfort to those whose expectations EQC had failed to meet. "And for that I unreservedly apologise."

EQC was disappointed that it failed to deliver for customers in this category, he said.

"We've completed nearly 9000 claims with damage over $50,000, which is already more than we expected to deal with over the life of the programme, but unfortunately there are more still to do."

Most of the properties yet to be completed were multi- unit buildings, required complex engineering solutions to advance to repair, or were awaiting information about flood risk status.

Emson said some were also on hold at the homeowners' request.

Emson said because of the urgent repairs offered by EQC, homes with more than $50,000 damage awaiting repair should be safe, secure, sanitary and able to withstand the weather on a temporary basis.

Labour's Earthquake Commission spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, asked whether there were any deadlines that EQC had made. "They shouldn't be setting a deadline. They should be straight up. People have had a gutsful of people telling them something to placate them and being repeatedly let down."

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Ali Jones, a city councillor and spokeswoman for the Canterbury Insurance Assistance Service, said it was another blow to people relying on timelines who wanted to move forward with their lives.

- The Press

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