Fletchers home repairs ease back

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013

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The pace of home repairs being completed by Fletcher EQR has slowed as the firm begins to tackle the most complex cases.

It has completed 40,000 repairs and expects the last 35,000 to 40,000 repairs to be completed by mid-2015.

While the number of completed jobs had fallen to 1800 a month from 2000 at the peak, Fletchers was spending more, in excess of $62 million a month at its highest, Fletcher EQR chief executive David Peterson said yesterday.

Its contract with the Earthquake Commission was to complete 80 per cent by the end of next year and 100 per cent by the end of 2015.

"We will easily achieve both these targets," Peterson said.

Fletcher EQR could repair only what EQC referred to it.

"It's just the slightly frustrating thing for us is it's a little bit piecemeal,'' Peterson said.

''We don't have a huge forward workload that we know about. We have about four-plus months ahead of us, but that's not unusual. That's what we've always had."

The over-$100,000 cap repairs and rebuilds by insurance companies are only beginning to gain scale and momentum.

Canterbury Master Builders Federation spokesman Clive Barrington said many builders were frustrated by the slowness of the work coming from insurance companies and their project management offices (PMOs).

Fletcher EQR had a system that was better to navigate than the insurance PMOs, he said.

"The only issue we've got with that is that the [Fletchers] rates now are not really high enough."

Barrington said the insurance PMOs expected builders to take the lead role, and probably 75 per cent of them did not have the skills or back-office support for that.

PMOs wanted builders to arrange the various professionals and tradesman, and while they were paid "a margin" for doing it, many did not have the skills.

The average building operation was "two men, a ute and a dog", Barrington said.

Peterson said he did not know of layoffs among building firms, but the workflow of repairs from EQC was changing to the more difficult jobs.

Fletcher EQR was allocating more work to building companies with a wider range of skills to take the lead role in the next two years of more complex repairs.

Fletcher EQR manages repairs between $15,000 and $100,000 for EQC.

Fletchers was asking builders to scope and price less work so they don't "bank" or "put it in the bottom drawer for later", Peterson said.

"What we don't want is a homeowner to have had their house scoped and then they don't see anybody for another four or five months, which is what had been starting to happen. So we have been deliberately not asking them to scope as much so we can control the rate of repair."

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Fletcher EQR's advice to tradesmen had always been not to be completely reliant on the repair programme, he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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