Red-zone homes hard to shift

Last updated 05:00 21/04/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Red-zoners wanting to relocate their houses are being stymied by subdivisions allowing only new homes and prohibitive costs.

Homes can be shifted off red-zone land if insurers or the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) approve, and owners must remove them by the time their land payout is settled.

However, most Canterbury subdivisions forbid relocations among rules aimed at maintaining values.

Deane McKenzie, sales manager at Ngai Tahu Property, the city's biggest subdivision developer, said none of the iwi's sites allowed section buyers to bring in an existing home.

"You have to build with new materials, so relocating would be a breach of the covenant," he said.

"Ninety-nine per cent of subdivisions in Christchurch don't allow it, so for anybody wanting to shift their house, that could be a difficulty for them."

Demand for relocations has risen, with insurers paying repair and not rebuild costs for some red-zone homes.

Cera residential red-zone manager Baden Ewart said he was aware of only about 15 relocations completed through insurance companies.

Red-zoners David Haywood and Jenny Hay hunted unsuccessfully for a Christchurch section for their Edwardian Avonside villa, and will now shift it to Dunsandel instead. They found even small, private subdivisions in established neighbourhoods had restrictive rules.

"All the land is now stitched up in these covenants.

"The only land you can get has some weird problem, like high-voltage power lines or contamination, or was 50 minutes out of town," Haywood said.

Some subdivisions also restricted the size, weight and breeds of pets, banned cars more than 3 years old and dictated paint colours. He described them as an "outrageous intrusion on individual rights".

About a dozen others from their neighbourhood had wanted to shift houses out of Avonside but had given up, and their homes would now be demolished.

Haywood said the shift was costing them almost $100,000 in moving expenses, consents and reports.

The owner of a house-removal business, who did not want to be named for fear of damaging legal negotiations over his red-zoned home, said the issue was becoming a "massive problem".

"I'm like anyone else; where are we going to go with it? People ringing all ask the same thing, `Where can we put our house without having to go way out to some rural town?"'

He said that resource, building and demolition consents alone could cost owners up to $20,000. Rural options often meant no sewers, power or internet, adding tens of thousands more to the bill.

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He would like to see land opened up where older homes could be grouped together.

"People have already lost equity in their homes and this is so costly it eats up their payout. It's such a huge waste of good homes," he said.

- Canterbury


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