House must be repaired or demolished after major repairs done without building consent
Repair Nightmares explores Canterbury's failed earthquake repairs issue. The fifth in the series looks at a new foundation with no building consent.
Sally Gaw and Scott Hardwick were alarmed when contractors pulled the boxing off the new concrete foundation under their house.
It seemed to them that it did not support a main wall, and now the Christchurch City Council wants something done about the unconsented repair.
Both the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes damaged Hardwick and Gaw's Lyttelton property, but they were able to keep living in the house.
* Couple's repairs seemed fast, then started going wrong
* The 'six-week' earthquake repair, five years later
* Insurance battle for leaky swimming pool, cracked driveway, and voided ground
* Repair nightmares: Can property buyers trust earthquake repair sign-offs?
* Canterbury earthquake repair issues increasing for insurance ombudsman
In 2014, the couple moved to a new house and rented the damaged property to a friend, who stayed there until the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and contractor Fletcher EQR began repair work in August 2015.
The couple called a halt to the work after becoming concerned with the state of the repairs.
The council inspected the property in August last year and issued a notice in November saying the foundation needed a certificate of acceptance, or it needed to be demolished or repaired by December 23.
The foundation is still there, and does not have a certificate of acceptance.
"We're still paying the mortgage on this house without any rental income," Gaw said.
EQC general manager of customer and claims Trish Keith admitted an error was made when contractors laid part of the concrete pad at the property without obtaining a building consent.
The council's notice to fix the issue carried the potential for $1370 in fines if the owners or contractors did not take action before the December deadline.
"We have advised the Christchurch City Council of this issue and we do not expect that any fines will be issued to the customers," Keith said.
EQC intended to comply with the notice and would make a decision on the compliance of the concrete pad while resolving the claim.
EQC was discussing the next steps with Gaw and Hardwick, reviewing engineering and building reports, and agreeing on the appropriate costs for demolishing and reinstating the house, she said.
Gaw said the couple had hired a quantity surveyor, who said EQC's costing estimates were not even close to what it would cost to rebuild.
"We're very aware it's an old house. It's an old Lyttelton house, and so they do have interesting features to them.
"We're definitely not trying to replace this with more than what was here, but we do need to be able to replace what we had . . . particularly as this is just down to incompetence. There was no reason not to get a building consent; we would have waited for a building consent."
Gaw said EQC would not cover lost rent, and had not covered the majority of the couple's expert fees.
"Our next step is an appointment with a barrister."