Quake report 'too expensive'

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 19/05/2012
Graeme McMillan
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

BUILDING BLOCK: GM Designs Ltd owner Graeme McMillan says Louis Crimp is difficult to communicate with and has not paid the firm for its engineering report on the Tuatara Backpackers.

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Multimillionaire Invercargill businessman Louis Crimp is reluctant to pay for an earthquake engineering report.

Mr Crimp, who owns Tuatara Backpackers, in Dee St, employed structural engineering business GM Designs to conduct an initial earthquake report on the building.

Mr Crimp said his failure to pay had nothing to do with the report itself, but "probably because it was too expensive".

"I am not usually in a hurry to pay my bills," he said.

Staff at Mr Crimp's office confirmed he had yet to settle the engineering bill and said he would probably ask GM Designs for more details.

When contacted by The Southland Times, Mr Crimp said he would pay the bill "sooner or later".

"I only did the first report because there were cracks in the side of the building and I was told by the council," he said.

He said GM designs wanted to do a further report but he believed there would be no point because the first report showed the solid concrete building had just a few hairline cracks. He did not want the engineering firm to write a further report as things would probably end up like Christchurch, with the original decision revoked with a recommendation of demolition, he said.

"Everyone is panic-stricken at the moment after Christchurch, and I am not paying extra for that."

Mr Crimp said he had already carried out his responsibility to the public by instigating the first report.

"The Tuatara will not fall down and I will not pay thousands of dollars for people to tell me it will."

GM Designs owner Graeme McMillan said he had carried out work for Mr Crimp for 25 years. He said he was difficult to communicate with and was not available for serious decision-making.

"He can give away millions but not pay the cents that count," Mr McMillan said, adding that he believed Mr Crimp would, like the Invercargill City Council, wait on the sidelines until the government forced action to be taken.

Mr McMillan also criticised the city council for not being proactive and dishing out dangerous building notices, such as those issued by the Southland District Council.

He said the letter issued by the council did not force owners to make a proper structural assessment of their buildings. "The letter was like a wet bus ticket going nowhere," he said.

He believed the council should make owners put notices on buildings to say that people entered them at their own risk.

He said Tuatara Backpackers was not the worst building in the city and he knew of at least two that would collapse if an earthquake hit. He believed that, given the age and condition of many brick buildings in the city, the 50-year plan would be to replace buildings, not strengthen them.

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