READER REPORT:

Quake repairs: Finally opting out

TANIA TOMKINS
Last updated 12:00 26/07/2013
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GARAGE DWELLERS: The Tomkins family are forced to live out of their garage.

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OPINION: We've asked our readers to share their stories of getting repairs done on their quake-damaged homes.

The December 2011 quake broke our artesian well and it was about to flood our garage, which is where our family live.

It took two to three weeks of us running our hose into our garden before Fletchers attended to our well and I asked how long it would be before our house got looked out.

 I was told to ring 0800 DAMAGE and give them my details for emergency repairs and emergency heating.

March 2012 came and the sub-contractors and Fletchers came over to assess what they could do. The builders could not believe our house was missed. 

The sub-contractors were lovely and started straight away. We had asked the Fletchers supervisor to check our ceilings for asbestos and he assured us that this would be none. 

Just as they were about to skill saw the ceilings, my husband asked them to stop and he rung the Fletchers supervisor to check for asbestos. "No, there will be no asbestos", he was told again. The builders continued then put ply on our ceilings and walls. The works were completed.

Upon us cleaning up all of the dust, we decided to get our ceilings tested ourselves. We went through Canterbury Health and the test results came back in three days. Positive. As soon as we heard this, we rung Fletchers and told them, they were very surprised and keen to look at the test results.

We took them down to the local hub and they copied them. We then got the bill for the test. We refused to pay this and took it to the hub. Fletchers said, as they did not approve this test, the bill was not their problem. So we got EQC involved. They said straight away that we need not worry about the bill and Fletchers would sort it.

In April 2012 we were in The Press about living in our garage and funnily enough, Fletchers, EQC, asbestos crews all arrived at home to get us sorted. It seemed so refreshing to be put into a priority hub.

Weeks came and went with no communication, it took us enquiring to get the ball rolling again.

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When we rung to see what the next step would be we got told that the Department of Labour was holding up the process.When the guy from the Department of Labour rung me, he had not heard of our case and it was not in their files. He then put the pressure on Fletchers.

The asbestos crew disposed of all porous items in our house. Our house has been our storage since February 2011, so all clothing, furniture, art and all valuables were in our house.

With our freshly-stripped, still unlivable house, we are still stuck in the garage. Our positive thoughts and hopes had once again been destroyed.

As the asbestos crew did not take any photos of our items and were brief with their descriptions of what they threw out, we then needed to try to figure out what they had thrown out.

Fletchers decided that it would move a lot quicker through our private insurers, so not only did we lose out as all items went down as indemnity we also lost our no claims bonus. December 2012 was when we finally got paid out, less almost $20k.

We started with the Fletchers Home Repair Scheme as we did not have enough energy to fight EQC over opting out.

Fletchers came with our allocated builders and re-scoped our house. But rather than put us over cap, they decided to make all extra work (that happened in Feb 2012) as additional variations. 

When we got our new scope and what works needed to be carried out, we were not happy at all. Fletchers got an exemption from needing a consent and wanted to do substandard work to fix our house. 

As we were sick and tired of this process we got in touch with Earthquake Services and asked for their advice. We then continued to try to opt out and after six emails within five weeks we finally got a reply saying that they have acknowledged our request and are in the process of letting us opt out.

This submission is part of a Press and Stuff project to give our readers the chance to share their stories and opinions in their own words. In publishing these reader stories, we do not seek comment from other parties.


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