EQC floor level assessments 'inadequate'

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 09:28 08/07/2014

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Shonky floor level measurements made by people hired by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) to check Christchurch's post-quake housing stock led to "at least some poor or incorrect assessments", says New Zealand's surveying institute.

The New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS) has published a report examining Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) guidelines for checking if floors are tilted.

The report's recommendations come in the wake of complaints from some Christchurch homeowners who are affected by EQC rulings that their houses were not sufficiently damaged to warrant repairs.

NZIS says assessment surveys have been carried out by a wide variety of people "all with varying levels of measurement knowledge and skill".

There is evidence of "at least some" poor or incorrect assessments due to an "apparent failure to consider a wider suite of assessment criteria" and "incorrect ... or inadequate floor levels being obtained".

The report's lead author, Emeritus Professor of Surveying John Hannah, told Radio NZ this morning that homeowners struggled to trust assessments carried out by people who were not qualified.

"I guess it is a bit like building a house... I would be reluctant to employ someone who has inadequately trained as a builder," he said.

EQC engineering advisor Tim Day told Radio NZ professional surveyors were already being brought in where cases were contentious or might involve legal action.

"As far as I am aware we have not had any negative feedback on the floor level surveys that we have undertaken," he said.

Christchurch-based registered land surveyor Adrian Cowie told Radio NZ the consequences of not using professionals were dire.

"Houses are... are being left with major structural damage that is not being repaired because EQC has not tested levels properly," he said.

Cowie previously told The Press a lack of visible damage was not an indication floor levels had not changed.

He had worked on premises in the past that seemed unscathed at first, but were alarmingly uneven on closer examination.

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- The Press

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