Canterbury Green Zone building guides

The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment has released two Quick Guides for builders working in the Green Zones (TC1, TC2, TC3). Very useful for residents too. They are:

  • The Guide for Canterbury Builders Below–Floor Work
  • The Guide for Canterbury Builders Above–Floor Work

Each Guide briefly outlines the regulatory requirements and highlights special issues. They can be downloaded from here. Both are short and easy to read. If you are having work done you really should read them. If you are having a Fletchers EQR repair done these guides may help you know what to expect and to check what is actually being done. The contents of the Below-Floor Work Guide are: SETTING THE SCENE

  • Building in the Canterbury Green Zone
  • NZ Regulations


  • Below-floor work
  • Assessing house foundations
  • Confirming the site’s Technical Category (TC)
  • Assessing foundation damage – repair or replace?
  • Checking ground height requirements
  • Repairing and relevelling foundations in TC1 and TC2
  • Lifting and relevelling floors: all foundation types
  • Relevelling Type A foundations: timber floor with piles
  • Relevelling Type B foundations: timber floor with piles and perimeter foundation
  • Relevelling Type C foundations: concrete slab-on-ground
  • Putting in new foundations
  • Other useful information

The contents of the Above-Floor Work Guide are: SETTING THE SCENE

  • Building in the Canterbury Green Zone
  • NZ Regulations


  • Above-floor work
  • Structural frame connections and bracing
  • Wall framing
  • Roof framing
  • Bracing
  • Repairs to plaster-board or plywood braced panels
  • Other construction types
  • Chimneys and fireplaces
  • Retaining walls
  • Preventing falls
  • Other useful information

Gib board damage – best practice for assessment, repairs, and replacement

With an increasing number of complaints about the quality of Fletchers/EQR repair work, having an understanding of what constitutes good practice and appropriate repairs is a good form of self help (and self defence).

Winstone Wallboards, manufacturers of Gib Board, have a web page that provides a range of printed articles, reports and booklets covering the assessment and repair or replacement of damaged wall board. Of particular importance is the information on how Gib Board provides internal strength to a house, and how the correct (or incorrect) treatment of damaged wall board affects the structural integrity of a house.

If you read only one item then this is the one to read: Repairing Earthquake Damaged Linings, an article that originally appeared in Build magazine. The two page article can be downloaded from here.

The article spells out clearly why the very careful checking of wallboard damage is needed, what hidden damage there may be, the best practice methods for checking the extent of the damage that has occurred, appropriate fixes, and the inevitable problems that will result from simple fixes.

All the articles etc. can be downloaded from here

From the web page:

On this page you’ll find links to information that may be of assistance to you. If you cannot find what you require, or need additional information call the GIB® Technical Support Helpline on 0800 100 442.  Also our technical support team, including structural engineers, are available for face-to-face information sessions.  Call the GIB® Helpline to discuss timing and specifics of the information required.

The information available includes:

Repairing Earthquake Damaged Wall LiningsAn article from Build magazine that outlines how to repair the interior wall linings that have lost stiffness and strength following the Canterbury earthquakes
Post-Earthquake Performance of Sheet Bracing ElementsA technical report  from Dr Richard Hunt which using results from extensive testing determines the extent of loss of stiffness and strength to a sheet bracing element that has been subjected to an earthquake event
Guidelines for Earthquake Damaged propertiesAn information bulletin that gives some general guidelines for repairing GIB® plasterboard linings in wind and earthquake damaged properties
Repairing Lath and Plaster Walls and CeilingsAn information bulletin that provides general guidelines for assessing  and carrying out remedial work to lathe and plaster walls and ceilings
Designing Bracing UpgradesAn information bulletin to assist with effectively designing home to improve that bracing performance
GIB® News articles relating to the Canterbury Earthquakes Two articles that detailed some of the damage that buildings incurred and the performance of plasterboard bracing systems. 

Updated guidance for the repair and reconstruction of homes in Canterbury published

The Department of Building and Housing (DBH) today released a publication Updated guidance for the repair and reconstruction of homes in Canterbury. A PDF copy can be found here. It is an update of a document released in December 2010.

Time will be needed to identify exactly what the changes mean for property owners. From a very quick skim through it appears that, in addition to new material on foundations (both building and patching them), the criteria in this amended document are “less onerous” than in the original version.

As a technical document it outlines what procedures are considered appropriate for various types of houses, the structural damage incurred, and the land category. While it describes what is permitted and recommended, one extremely important issue is only briefly addressed: the obligations of the insurer (EQC or a private insurance company) towards the policy holder.

Irrespective of what DBH may specify as suitable and satisfactory practices and solutions, they can only be applied if they meet the insurers obligations to the property owner. As a minimum these approaches can only be applied if they restore the property (house and foundations) to at least the condition it was in on the 3rd of September 2010. A “less onerous” solution may fall short of meeting this requirement e.g patching something that has cracked or broken is not the same as restoration or like new. 

One area where this tension may arise involves concrete slab foundations in TC1 and TC2 areas (TC3 properties will require site specific investigations).  A particularly common problem with new houses has been cracking of the foundation slab. An economical solution would be to repair these foundations where ever possible. This is addressed in Appendix 4 of the publication.

Research has been carried out overseas on the use of resins and grouts to repair cracks caused by slab shrinkage. The DBH has investigated these solutions and outlines how they could be applied in Christchurch to fix cracks varying between 1 and 50 millimetres or more.

It can be anticipated that there will be times when those working for EQC or insurance companies will suggest or insist on repairing a slab. The use of resins and grouts may be acceptable as a consequence of slab shrinkage over a period of years. The same solutions do not meet the criteria of restoring a foundation back to the way it was prior to the earthquakes. An additional consideration is the following, which is highlighted on page 125, and precedes the description of the repair solutions mentioned above:

Please note: it cannot be assured that a crack will
not reopen after the completion of any of the
processes described below.

 While repairers will be keen to point out that product X carries a warranty for a long period of time, the warranty is pretty much worthless unless either EQC or your insurance company agree to underwrite it.

Should you need to call on the warranty because of a problem, you could find yourself in the middle of a dispute between the product maker and whoever applied it as to who was at fault. It could be that either or both businesses disappear and there is no company around to honour the warranty. This is not the level of structural certainty that existed on the 3rd of September.

Even people living in TC1 areas should be wary of any suggestion that cracks be repaired. Peace of mind and equity are at stake, so seek advice should the topic be raised.

If it wasn’t broken on the 3rd of September 2010 then you have every right to expect better than a patch-up job.

Chapter headings are:

1. Introduction

Part A: Technical guidance
2. Foundation assessment criteria and approaches
Land on the flat
3. Technical categorisation of the Green Zone on the flat
4. Repairing house foundations
5. New foundations
Hillside properties
6. Hillside properties and retaining walls
7. Superstructure assessment and repair recommendations

Part B: Technical information
8. Insurance and regulatory requirements
9. Observed land and building performance
10. Future liquefaction performance expectations for land and buildings

Appendices and References
 A1 Re-levelling systems and outline method statements for re-levelling and repairing foundations and floors in tc1 and tc2
A2 Outline method statements for replacing foundations and slab-on-grade floors in tc1 and tc2
A3 Assessment and repair options for chimneys damaged in the Canterbury earthquake sequence
A4 Assessment and repair options for concrete floor slabs damaged in the Canterbury earthquake sequence
B1 Summary of the effects of liquefaction
B2 Guidelines for the investigation and assessment of subdivisions

CanCERN Q&A with IAG & Hawkins

CanCERN and IAG, along with IAG’s project manager Hawkins Construction, have discussed the processes involved for customers of IAG who are faced with over-cap repairs or a rebuild. Other insurance companies that come under the IAG banner are: Lantern, NZI, and State.

The result is a 7 page document on Google Docs (here) outlining the IAG/Hawkins position and responses to some questions. Topic headings in the document are:

  • Project Management Office Process for Making Assessments
  • Disputes Process
  • Insurer Customer Support – Customer Advocacy
  • Communication between the Insurer, the PMO and the Client
  • The Rebuild Planning Process with the PMO
  • The Detailed Project Management Assessment (Scope of Works)
  • Settlement Options

These topics are then followed by a series of questions with answers. In a few instances the answers are uncompromising, and indicate that unless exceptional conditions exist the IAG/Hawkins position cannot be challenged. It is possible that other decisions may be put into this “exceptional circumstances” category (e.g. the use of particular techniques and/or materials) in an effort to streamline processes and increase efficiency.

It is unlikely that such determinations have any legal status and so can be challenged, given enough time, money and energy. So, for now at least, keep the mindset that the customer is always right and consult a lawyer before you agree to, or sign, anything.

Click on the link to see the questions contained in the document.

  • Why does there appear to be a difference in an insurers Scope of Works with some being more specific than others?
  • If a rebuild assessment is more generic, how do you capture the special features in the house, E.g. rimu panelling?
  • Is there a standard costing for things like rimu panelling which is then built onto the price per metre? What if clients do not want to replace that special feature – can they ‘trade’ it for extra floor space, other rooms, etc?
  • Does the PMOs assessment cover all aspects – driveways, fences, etc as well as house? What will not be covered?
  • Does your rebuild repair analysis include both the total repair costs, the costs of the rebuild and how a rebuild is decided as opposed to a repair? If not why not?
  • How are foundations being costed for houses in the Red Zone? (There is a lot of confusion about how a house in the Red Zone can be deemed a repair. Please give as much detail as you can about how this can happen.)
  • Will PMs have cases in the same area with a mind to co-ordinating repairs when land is a factor and rebuilds?
  • How will repairs and rebuilds be prioritised?
  • Can people get their own costings done and will they be accepted?
  • How can we trust the Insurer and PMO costings?
  • How are you deciding the priority areas for ongoing assessments throughout Canterbury?
  • Will things be different in the hill areas?
  • Will the costings take into account the fact that people may not be able to complete work for years yet?
  • What happens if there is another earthquake during the rebuild – who covers the insurance?
  • Can people buy houses and swap (reassign) settlements if for example a Green Zone person wants a Red Zone house so they can get out?
  • How is the figure worked out if you want to buy an existing house?
  • Can people choose to take Option 2 and negotiate with the insurer but choose Option 1 if that works out to be a better offer and what if it is outside of the 9 month timeframe?
  • If you are a rebuild in the hill suburbs, will your house be designed by an engineer rather than having to have a group home build that is not designed for the hill?
  • What is your opinion on Eurotech and will the client have the option whether or not to use it?
  • At what point would the PMO bring in other experts (geotech and structural engineers) and at whose expense?
  • What work is currently being carried out in the Red Zone? Orange Zone? White Zone? Green Zone? West of Merivale? East of Merivale?
  • What is your expected timeline for finishing assessments of all clients?
  • Are you insuring existing clients and/or houses with existing cover when people move/rebuild?

The document is here.

EQC complaints procedure – using it on Wednesday

Some people in the street have received their Scope of Works from EQC. As most properties had an assessment in late October, as did we, it seems reasonable that everyone should have had some communication from them by now.

Not having received our Scope of Works, while others around us have, it was time to ring EQC for a progress report. The person who answered the phone was good, offered to note the request for a copy, could confirm that we had not yet been sent a copy, nor had Fletchers. What she couldn’t say was when we might receive it. Fair enough, in a call centre environment you can only see what is on the screen. Still, 3 and a bit months is quite a while so time to do something extra.

On the EQC Canterbury Earthquake website, buried away on the Contact page, is the link to the complaints page (here). The recommended procedure is to first call them and talk the matter through. Fine, however Gail has called a few times and is still waiting for a call back promised around the 19th of November. No point in doing that again, so maybe the situation was sufficiently aggravating to warrant a complaint.

A complaint was made just after 10 am yesterday morning, and we are still waiting for an e-mail acknowledgment. They have 5 working days to respond. The steps to making a complaint are listed below.

Will keep you posted.

The steps in making an on-line complaint (as per the EQC website here) are:

How do I send EQC a complaint?

You can click here to fill out and send us a form with the details of your complaint. We do need your claim number, so please make sure you have this ready.

Next steps

If you have sent us a complaint and given us an email address, we will send you an email confirming we have received your complaint.

Otherwise we will write to you acknowledging your complaint.

We will allocate your complaint to one of our team who will look into your complaint and contact you to work through the issue.

You should expect a response from us within 5 working days. If we need to take longer because, for example, we need to get additional information, we will let you know.