The newest fix for damaged homes

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 11:43 16/02/2013
John Hambling
KIRK HARGREAVES/The Press

Firth Industries national technical manager John Hambling demonstrates the new foundation system.

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House foundations poured on top of the ground that can be re- levelled with the turn of a screw are the newest earthquake fix to appear in Christchurch.

The first foundation to use the new system - intended for rebuilds and repairs on technical category 3 (TC3) sites - has been poured in the suburb of Hoon Hay.

Concrete company Firth has designed the system for use by its parent company Fletcher Construction which is handling Earthquake Commission work, and is also eyeing its export potential.

The Hoon Hay construction site was shown off yesterday to visiting media as well as Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority head Roger Sutton.

"TC3 is not the bogey some people were making it out to be, dealing with TC3 is not a terminal problem for anyone," Brownlee said.

Sutton said that "whereas at one stage we talked about foundations costing an extra 50 or 70 thousand dollars", the new system cost half that.

"You just accept the ground below will move, and when it does you just jack (the house) up again."

Jon Hambling, national technical manager for Firth Industries, said the system would suit 90 per cent of homes, could be built in a week, and meant a home could be re-levelled in just a few hours if quakes shifted the land.

Instead of piles it involves two poured reinforced concrete slabs, separated by about 25 individual raft jacks which can be adjusted by pulling back carpets. It can be used for both repairs and rebuilds.

The system has been tested at a site in Harewood after "a month of brainstorming" once the government issued foundation standards, Hambling said.

An estimated 12,500 homes on TC3 land have damaged foundations from the Canterbury earthquakes.

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