Building not inspected between quakes, inquiry told

5:15 pm on 13 December 2011

An inquiry into the Canterbury earthquakes has been told the premises where a man was killed by a falling concrete wall were not inspected by structural engineers between the September and February quakes.

It is one of several premises being examined by the Royal Commission on Tuesday as part of this week's hearing into smaller buildings that collapsed during the quake on 22 February this year.

Stephen Cochrane, a carpenter who worked at Classique Furniture in the suburb of Sydenham, was crushed when a six-metre, free-standing concrete wall came down.

Graeme Dreaver, the owner of the business in Coleridge Street, says the premises were not inspected because there was no obvious damage to the building or the wall after the quake on 4 September last year.

However, Mr Cochrane's widow, Tania Cochrane, says she worried about how dangerous the wall was and had noticed it was on a lean.

She says on several occasions she asked her husband not to park his vehicle near the wall.

Earlier, a structural engineer told the Royal Commission he would have done more if he had realised there were people working in a two-storey building in Colombo Street that later collapsed, killing one person.

The inquiry was told a breakdown in communication led to the tenants wrongly assuming their building was safe to work in after the September quake.

Holmes Consulting structural engineer Richard Seville says he did not see anyone inside during a second inspection and assumed the message had been passed on for tenants to leave.

Mr Seville says if he had known people were still working there, he would have told them to leave personally.