EQC land reports: 'Here's what to expect'WILL HARVIE
The Earthquake Commission started mailing land reports to about 10,000 Cantabrians this week and another 40,000 will go out within a month. I’ve got my report already and here’s what to expect.
My 10-page document is fairly impressive – much more so than EQC’s scope of works for building damage, for instance. The print is small, the handwriting sometimes unreadable and the cost estimates have been censored with black ink, but the overhead photographs and sketches are accurate and thorough.
EQC’s inspectors didn’t make an appointment, they just turned up in March when nobody was home, but they found my land damage (with one exception). The proposed fixes to a block retaining wall and a sinkhole look about right. But without dollar values, the document is only academically interesting. Cost assessment will start about September and cash will flow after that.
The important news isn’t in the land report, but two stories in The Press this week (here and here. Most people, said EQC Canterbury events manager Reid Stiven, will get a cash settlement and repair their own land.
This is good news – we will finally get to do something ourselves. We won’t have to dick around waiting for inspectors, builders, tradesmen and experts of all sorts to get stuff done.
Waiting for other people has frustrated repairs to many homes, but with land repairs we can gather neighbours, friends and families for working bees – BBQs and beers to follow when the jobs are done. And call out the Student Volunteer Army and Farmy Army, because there will be hundreds and perhaps thousands of little old ladies, sickness beneficiaries and others who can’t fix their own land and need our help.
Meanwhile, these reports will bring more misery for many. Stiven says a “minority” of people will be worse off because of their land damage report; here’s predicting it’s a “large minority”.
"If you had a 30-year-old retaining wall, (EQC) will compensate you for that. It doesn't give you what you may now require,” says Stiven. In other words, retaining wall insurance is indemnification, not full replacement. A wall that might cost $10,000 to replace will attract only $5000 in EQC compensation (or more or less, who knows at this point?).
Worse, where the cost of repair exceeds the value of the land, people will get the lesser amount. Will this force some green-zoned people off their land?
I suspect the land reports signal the end of the Government’s bail out of quake-struck Canterbury. There’s no talk of the Prime Minister topping up EQC, no special fund for the especially disadvantaged, no equivalent to a $30 million temporary rugby stadium. Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee hasn’t even discussed land report shortfalls with his staff. This day was coming.
Roll up your sleeves Canterbury.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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