Rushed inspections 'coming back to bite' EQC

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 29/10/2012

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Rushed post-earthquake inspections are "coming back to bite" the Earthquake Commission (EQC), with missed damage creating bottlenecks in repair work approvals, contractors say.

Fletcher EQR-accredited repairers spoken to by The Press said scoping reports, which outlined the repair strategy and itemised costs, were being delayed several weeks while the commission scrutinised differences between the inspection and scoping reports.

One contractor, who said his job would be jeopardised by being named, had six scoping reports awaiting approval, including one submitted three months ago.

A colleague waiting for up to 25 jobs to be approved was "really annoyed" but was reluctant to complain for fear of being cut by the EQC, he said.

The contractor, an EQR-accredited repairer for more than a year, said he spent six months as an EQC assessor and was required to complete at least four inspections a day.

"This is coming back to bite [the commission] now. When we go over it thoroughly [for the scoping report], we're finding more damage. Did they miss it the first time because they were going too quick? I'm not 100 per cent sure."

Scoping reports were being approved in less than two weeks, but most now took least a month because of greater EQC input, the contractor said.

Scrutiny of costings was welcomed, but untrained, "pedantic" staff were "slowing the whole repair strategy down".

Contractors "generally got it right", though small pricing discrepancies were common.

"They were going good. They're trying to save every dollar they can, which is fair enough, but it's just been getting harder and harder [for contractors]."

Damage from later quakes contributed to the discrepancies, he said.

EQC customer services general manager Bruce Emson said there were many possible reasons for additional damage being identified, including further damage from aftershocks.

It was necessary to meet the commission's "obligation to get value for money, given the very large amounts of public and reinsurer money involved" to review work before repairs began.

The commission had completed nearly 25,000 repairs and was averaging more than 90 homes a day, Emson said.

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- The Press

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