House-lifting technology could save homes
Hundreds of condemned homes could be saved if new house-lifting technology proves a success.
Smith Crane and Construction has developed a high-lift jack that can lift damaged houses so their foundations can be repaired.
Building relocation manager Brent Smith said the company had developed the jack to help with the quake recovery.
"It took us about 18 months to develop and get right," he said.
The technology had the potential to save hundreds of homes that had been deemed beyond repair.
"There were so many homes that we saw last year that could have been saved if we had applied this method. There's a lot more that could be saved if we do," he said.
The cost of using the technology was about half of what it would cost to rebuild.
"It does have the potential to save a lot of money," he said.
The company was testing the jack on a Rolleston house.
Smith said the company was "working through" a big contract with an insurance company to apply the jack to more than 200 houses.
"This is a test case we're working through with an insurance company. If it's a success, we would replicate the jack and apply it on a much wider scale," he said.
The plant is capable of lifting buildings up to 3 metres high, with unimpeded access under the building.
"The foundations of the building can then be broken up and removed with small excavators,'' Smith said.
''The natural ground can then be stabilised if required and a new foundation or concrete slab installed. The building is then simply lowered back on to the new foundation and secured."
It takes about 14 days to lift a 200-square-metre house, remove and replace the damaged foundation slab and lower the building.
"It's an extremely fast process," Smith said.