Girl has never known an undamaged home

Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014
Dion Paxie

DISGUISED DAMAGE: Dion Paxie and his daughter, Ephelia, 4, have spent the years waiting for a resolution to their insurance claim by covering up their damaged walls with pictures in a room where quake talk is not allowed.

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Ephelia Paxie has never known an undamaged home. Her dad Dion is losing hope as the family continues to fight insurers over repairs. Charles Anderson reports.

For the past four years, Dion Paxie and his daughter have patched over the cracks on their living room walls with pictures they made during the summer holidays.

The room in their Lyttelton heritage home became a refuge. It was a place where they were not allowed to talk about earthquakes.

Daughter Ephelia was only six months old when the quakes started. The wall is now full but the family is still waiting for a resolution from their insurer, Southern Response.

Paxie, a primary school teacher, calls the time since the earthquake "the nothing years".

"It feels like that. We haven't been able to move forward. We haven't been able to enjoy our home."

The home was built in 1895 by a shipwright who once offered help to Robert Falcon Scott before he headed to Antarctica.

Southern Response initially offered a maximum of $575,080 to return the home to an "as new" condition, Paxie said. That has since dropped to $140,080.

The plan was to replace the foundations but six "detailed repair assessments" later that has changed to a "jack and pack" repair, he said.

The insurer has also refused to replace the back half of the house, which Paxie estimated would cost about $120,000.

"I don't understand it... After all the money we have paid for our policy we just want what is owed to us, nothing more."

Paxie requested an independent engineering report which Southern Response agreed would take place on July 27.

A week before it was scheduled Southern Response cancelled, citing changes in the wording of a document, he said.

"We are lucky because we can be in our house but we are starting to lose hope. Emotionally, we have changed. Deep down I know something is not right."

The family was classed as "vulnerable" because of Ephelia's age when the quakes occurred.

Paxie believed this would prioritise them. Instead they have watched friends and family who only started their claims process this year get close to full rebuilds.

A spokeswoman for Southern Response said the insurer was working closely with Paxie and his nominated contractors to settle this claim.

"We are disappointed that it has not been possible to settle the claim but it is continuing to progress. Claims for historic properties, as is the case here, are often more complex and can require additional assessments and expertise."

As at 31 July 2014, the spokeswoman said Southern Response had fully settled half of all over-cap claims, including 528 repairs and rebuilds.

There were 577 repairs and rebuilds under construction and 73 per cent of all repairs or rebuilds had been allocated a building partner and were either complete, under construction or in design and documentation stage.

Paxie said he looked forward to the day he would be one of those latter numbers - when the pictures on the walls could be taken off in preparation for the house to be repaired. Until then, every holidays, he and Ephelia will continue to put up more.

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"We have to rebuild memories too," Paxie said.

- The Press


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