15 Jun 2015

Earthquake repair survey 'selective'

8:56 am on 15 June 2015

Canterbury homeowners are calling for an independent review of the region's earthquake repairs because of concerns about the validity of a Government survey.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) inspected 14 properties in the region and found the quality of repairs was substandard at 13 of them.

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Building repairs continue in post-quake Christchurch. Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

As a result, the Government announced it would inspect a further 100 homes, but official documents show the properties are from a larger pool put forward by Government agencies and private insurers.

The Canterbury Claimants group - made up of more than 250 concerned homeowners - lodged an Official Information Act request in April asking how the survey would be conducted and what the Government hoped to achieve by doing it.

After several delays, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee recently responded and said that only properties with completed structural repairs exempt from needing a building consent were being inspected.

National MP, Gerry Brownlee.

Gerry Brownlee Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Earthquake Commission, IAG, Southern Response and Housing New Zealand provided MBIE with information about 200 properties in total.

MBIE then randomly selected 100 properties to inspect out of the pre-selected pool.

The information said the purpose of the review was to identify whether work complied with the Building Code.

"Whether the repairs meet the contractual requirements in insurance contracts, or under the EQC act 1993, or under Housing New Zealand's earthquake repair standards is outside the scope of the review," the documents said.

Spokesperson for the Canterbury Claimants group Cam Preston said many homeowners were concerned that structural damage was being dismissed as cosmetic, but said the survey would not address this issue.

Homeowners in dispute with EQC or their insurer were excluded from the survey.

He said the repair work had been "self-selected" by the four organisations and would not represent the quality of repairs across the region.

"It's like choosing the smartest children from your classroom to take an exam and then trying to say they represent the average of the class.

"It's just simply not the case."

Mr Preston said the Government should conduct a thorough independent review of repair work in Canterbury.

The results are due to be released next month.

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