Thursday, September 26, 2013

Behind the Wire: NW Suburban Repairs, Rebuilds. Copthorne Hotel Collapse

Fri 27.09.13. Ever since the 04.09.10 quake, Cantabrians were behind the wire.
04.09.10 quake: Fence cordons had sprung up around quake damaged bldgs & dangerous bldgs.
At that time, Council hadn't got its rapid assessments of bldgs organized properly, so many dangerous bldgs which should've been behind the wire weren't. I recall seeing Council green and yellow stickers on the same bldg in St Asaph St. I saw several assessment sticker confusions like that.

26.12.10, Boxing Day quake: More behind the wire fences & Council rapid assessments & cock ups for damaged & dangerous bldgs. I remember seeing Cashel Mall fence cordoned at The Crossing & The Press bldg in Cathedral Sq red stickered, yet in the next lethal 22.02.11 quake, workers were busy inside The Press bldg. One was killed, others injured.

22.02.11 lethal quake. 185 dead, 6 600+ injured. Instead of red stickering, Council had twice green stickered the shaky CTV bldg post Sept 4 quake & Boxing Day quake. More fence cordons around properties. The CBD was fence cordoned & red zoned for 28 months by Civil Defence, then CERA, citizens banned. Only people allowed behind the wire were CERA approved contractors, CERA officials, cops & NZDF soldiers.

13.06.11 quake & 23.12.11 Xmas quake swarm: More behind the wire cordons for damaged & dangerous bldgs. 

CERA red zoned 7 000+ residential properties along riversides & on the Port Hills. All ended up behind the wire after evacuations, CERA / NZ National govt purchases & demolitions. While red zoners negotiated CERA offers, they were behind the wire, formed by NZ National govt / CERA red zoning.

Some people were still behind the wire, while NZ National govt / CERA dithered over red zoning reviews. CERA minister Brownlee often apologized for CERA delays & jabbered about getting things right, despite CERA delays. HA!

EQC & insurers followed Brownlee's delay tactics, putting property owners behind more wire.

Likewise 28 000 TC3 green zoners were behind the wire with reduced value of their properties, anxiety & expense of having to strengthen house foundations on quake crapped land.

While 1 000s of demolitions took place in the CBD & in residential red zones, all those properties were behind the wire. After CBD demolitions, there was rubble, dust, weeds & Wilson car parks in the CBD, behind the wire. In residential red zones, once CERA demolitions were completed, overgrown properties had shrubs & trees remaining. CERA then put residential red zone properties behind the wire again with CERA no access signs hung on wire fences.

Three years post 04.09.10 quake, that wasn't the end of the wire. Now there were sporadic repairs & rebuilds in the suburbs, construction sites & demolition sites behind the wire.

SCIRT workers were behind the wire of their moveable fence cordons & orange, plastic, road cones while they excavated & repaired roads.

Depending on our viewpoint, insider or outsider, we were all behind the wire in Christchurch.

Friday 27.09.13. On her drives to London St work, Leah dropped me off by N Hagley Park, so I wandered back home to Burnside, 6 kms odd. I avoided noisy main roads, like Memorial Ave, Wairakei Rd & Papanui Rd & wandered back to Burnside via quiet roads in Fendalton, Merivale, Bryndwyr & Burnside. I crossed some busy roads like Holmwood Rd, Glandovey Rd & Idris Rd, but left them asap. 

For those with eyes & legs, NW suburbs, behind the wire were there for all to see. Some quake damages were invisible, as some posh houses hid behind high garden walls & wooden fences. But quake damages were there alright, evidenced by contractors' vehicles parked by fencing - concreters, asphalters, roofers & cladders, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, painters, tree trimmers, scaffolders, builders, landscape designers...

Contractors, architects, builders & cheeky insurers hung ad boards on the wire. Election boards hung on fences, like train coupes, with grinning faces drooling gravy. Real estate boards praised quake damaged housing for sale: "TC2... Geotech & LIM reports available... As is where is basis... No insurance... Repair or Rebuild option... Auction..." God help Council when it calculated new rates for CERA's green zoning - TC1, TC2, TC3. What a mess. Town clerk Marryatt resigned in time for another CEO to take the blame for new rates cock ups.

The fact that so many posh suburb houses still needed repairs & rebuilds was an indictment of slow EQC & tardy insurers. Complainers in other suburbs were justified in their complaints about EQC & insurers. (During & after 2016, thousands of shoddy EQC repairs, overseen by Fletchers, would need to be redone).

NW suburbs I wandered were a strange mix of mostly inhabited houses, some behind the wire, some abandoned houses, some demolition sites & construction sites, lots of repair sites & even more homes still without repairs, evidenced by boarded walls, chimney gaps & windows. Some house walls & garden walls were wood braced, grey weathering showing how long it took EQC to settle under cap $15 000 - $100 000 repairs & insurers to settle over cap $100 000 repairs.

For small repairs below $15 000, home owners were paid out cash by EQC. Our Burnside 3 bedroom rental had low quake damages, minor cracks, garage doors no longer locking, but we still awaited repairs. Our slumlord pocketed EQC cash & left the house unfixed! We had lots of experience seeing slumlords doing few repairs, as pre & post quakes, 9 years so far, Jake had tenanted many rentals, even a garage with chemical toilet for 6 months post 22.02.11 quake. During our 18 years' Christchurch residence, slumlords we knew did few repairs & less maintenance on their rentals. 

Home owners had the choice to take EQC / insurer money & run, or use it for repairs. Under cap repairs were overseen by Fletchers, CERA's stooge, or homeowners could opt out of Fletchers repairs & contract their own repairs, hence all the different contractors. Not a Fletchers board in sight, as Fletchers sub contracted, allowing shoddy repairs to pass. Non repaired houses would cause anomalies in future rates evaluations & hassles for future home buyers in quake repaired suburbs.

There was nothing stopping vendors pocketing EQC / insurance pay outs, not fixing their housing & vending as is, where is. If buyers, real estate agents & conveyancing lawyers were asleep, regarding post quake house repairs, there would be hell to pay for future house buyers. In future, I wouldn't buy a pre quake house in Christchurch. Despite post quakes, repairs / rebuilds hassles, there were several real estate boards touting houses or land for sale en route. 

My walking notes gave an idea of many contractors doing post quakes, residential repairs & constructions in NW suburbs. A ramping up, at last, of residential repairs & constructions 3 years post 04.09.10 quake:

11 images, Helmores Ln:

Helmores Ln off N Hagley Park: Helmores Lane Bridge, a wood span bridge over Avon River, behind the wire. Wood spans were OK, but spans were ripped away from concrete abutments sunk in Avon River mud. I saw that sort of abutment / span join damage all over Christchurch. Piers & spans withstood quakes OK, but abutments sank into mud or tilted at odd angles from spans, causing damage to spans. Some spans rotated horizontally in quakes, causing concrete spalling off abutments.

Helmores Lane Bridge was repaired by SCIRT in 2016.

Helmores Ln: Demolition site. GREGG builder board on hedge. MEADOW landscape board, Architect board, Structural engineer board. Surveyor board on wire fence by construction site. Parked CONCUT van.

Holmwood Rd: Broken brick wall behind the wire. Boarded window on double storey house. HARCOURTS For Sale board on fence by a construction site. SCIRT excavation & detour by Holmwood Rd / Memorial Ave junction.

5 images, Holmwood Rd:

Garden Rd: Patched house wall. Wood braced, garden, brick wall, blue tarp on garage door. Boarded wall on brick house. Abandoned house, overgrown garden.

29 images, Garden Rd:

Garden Rd: Broken brick wall & locked gate by demolition site. Boarded window on double storey house. DUNCAN TAYLOR builders board on fence, parked Duncan Taylor van, parked yellow digger on demolition site behind the wire. STONEWOOD safety board on wire fence. BUCHAN HOMES builder board on garden, stone wall.

Garden Rd: AVON DICKIE construction board on garden, brick wall, white dump truck in driveway. Abandoned house behind locked picket gate.

Garden Rd: Boarded windows & roof patch caused by broken chimney on house, behind wisteria festooned garden, wooden fence. NEW ZEALAND POST notice on pavement letter box, informing residents of closure of postal facilities, like road letter boxes. Sackings not mentioned.

The NZ Post notice read:

                 Please be aware this posting receptacle will be removed
                              between 7 October and 11 October 2013.

                    Mail will be cleared as usual until the box is removed.

                The nearest posting box is 60 Holmwood Road with a final
                                              posting time of 2 pm.

New Zealand Post is optimising the network of posting facilities to ensure a fair
balance between community needs, customer usage and servicing / security

Garden Rd: Quake survivor wooden, road bridge over Wairarapa Stream, concrete abutments OK. Collapsed brick & tile house, Wairarapa Tce off Garden Rd. Three years of wanderings post 04.09.10 quake, I thought I'd seen it all, but I was still shocked to see collapsed housing for the first time. HARCOURTS Auction board for uninsured, double storey, wooden house. Another quake broken, double storey, wooden house, unrepaired at top storey cnr.

Garden Rd: IAG insurer board on steel gate. Part demolished, double storey house by construction site, behind the wire, concrete foundations laid, SUGRUE construction board on the wire.

Garden Rd: BAYLEYS Auction board, house SOLD.

Poynder Ave: BEHIND THE WIRE board behind the wire by a shipping container on a construction site. More boards on the wire - Hazard board, VERO insurer, JOHN CREIGHTON builder.

5 images, Poynder Ave:

Poynder Ave: LANDSCAPES design / construction board on wooden fence by scaffolded, double storey house. Big construction site with TAKAHE construction board on the wire. CSL shipping container parked on road.

Wroxton Tce: Wood braced, garden, brick wall. Election poster on wooden fence. Parked LASER PLUMBING van.

10 images, Wroxton Tce:

Wroxton Tce: Black plastic covered bay window on a double storey house. Faded boards covered a fallen chimney hole on another double storey house. Like those houses & many others awaiting repairs, friends of Leah's still awaited EQC's & insurer's decisions whether their house near Wroxton Tce would be repaired or demolished for a rebuild. Three years post 04.09.10 quake, that was a lot of stress caused by slow insurers.

Wroxton Tce: Parked A TEAM plasterers van. Friendly plasterer gave me a thumbs up when I took a pic. He made lots of money from quake repairs. A garden wall was demolished behind the wire.

Wroxton Tce / Idris Rd junction. Election posters on a boarded fence. Election poster on a wooden fence, Wroxton Tce cnr.

12 images, Idris Rd:


Idris Rd: A yellow digger made a heap of roof metal for salvage on a house demolition site. A red salvage truck reversing into the driveway caused a traffic jam. Road users were familiar with trucks causing traffic jams all over Christchurch. Wood braced electrical sub station.

Glandovey Rd: Scaffolded garage. Election poster on a wooden fence. WARNER fences van reversed into a driveway. Painters van parked in another driveway.

9 images, Glandovey Rd:

Glandovey Rd: Boarded windows on a double storey house. Brick gate post was strapped to a wooden fence to stop collapse. Since the quakes, nylon straps were used to secure loose bits of buildings all over town. EQC, Fletchers & insurers took too long to sort out simple repairs like a dangerous gate post on a busy roadside.


Glandovey Rd: An orange, plastic, road cone cordon surrounded a yellow sewage pump, obstructing traffic in the middle of the road. Traffic would be obstructed by road works for years to come. SCIRT was only now ramping up road works in the CBD.

Cnr Glandovey Rd / Garreg Rd: Town house construction behind the wire. Several boards on the wire - INTEGRA masonry board, Hazard boards, DULUX paint board, LIGHTING PLUS board.

14 images, Garreg Rd:

Garreg Rd: HARCOURTS Sold board behind the wire on a demolition site. MILES construction board on the wire. CBEER construction board & hazard board on a wooden fence. CARTERS builder DANGER board on another wooden fence. TREEWORKS truck was parked on a driveway by flowering cherry blossoms. Wood braced, end wall of a brick house. Another house, wood boarded in front.

Ashby Pl: Two large, double storey, concrete & brick houses, abandoned behind the wire. Many quake cracks on brickwork, bricks fallen in places. Some windows & walls were boarded.

15 images, Ashby Pl:

Cnr Bryndwr Rd / Newall Ave: A painter van was parked in a driveway, the painter packing up...

Got it?

2 images, Newall Ave:

*Wandered Helmores Ln, Holmwood Rd, Garden Rd, Poynder Ave, Wroxton Tce, Idris Rd, Glandovey Rd, Garreg Rd, Ashby Pl, Newell Ave.

Sat 28.09.13. OneNews reported that 10 storey Copthorne Hotel, Victoria Sq, collapsed in the process of demolition. No one was injured while a Southern Demolition digger chomped. Looked like an unsafe demolition, with 2 wobbly N & S shear walls & disconnected concrete floors collapsing in between, a house of cards. Why had it taken so long to demolish the bldg? I bet nearby, quake trashed Town Hall up Colombo St got a helluva shaking.

Behind the wire in Victoria Sq, Queen Victoria statue was amused. Capt James Cook statue stared. He'd seen it all before.

21 images, Victoria Sq:

29.09.13. Victoria Sq view, demolition collapsed Copthorne Hotel. Capt James Cook statue foreground left

Like abandoned Town Hall, Forsyth Barr (Crowne Plaza Hotel) other abandoned & demolished bldgs in the vicinity, Copthorne Hotel was built on swamp near Avon River. Copthorne Hotel was abandoned for over 2 years while bldgs behind it were demolished, including PWC high rise, so Copthorne Hotel hadn't only endured 13 000 quakes, but endured 1 000s of digger thumpings during nearby demolitions. Reinforcement rods would've been shaken & shocked by quakes & demolitions.

29.09.13. Victoria Sq view, demolition collapsed Copthorne Hotel. Abandoned Ernst & Young left awaiting demolition

Sun 29.09.13. From behind the wire on Cambridge Tce, Manchester St Bridge, Armagh St & Victoria Sq, I had a good look at demolition collapsed Copthorne Hotel: The NW shear wall had failed & sunk about a foot into the ground.

17 images, Cambridge Tce.

29.09.13. Cambridge Tce view, Oxford Tce & demolition collapsed Copthorne Hotel. Abandoned Forsyth Barr (Crowne Plaza Hotel) left awaiting repairs. Abandoned Victoria Square apartments behind awaiting demolition for CERA's Blueprint Convention Centre. Abandoned Town Hall right awaiting repairs

The NW shear wall on the outside was divided longitudinally by a stairwell in the middle. Easily seen from Cambridge Tce, a huge concrete crack was on the NW shear wall base, exposing failed reinforcement rods, with tons of shear wall concrete sunk into the ground, the shear wall base bulging N. About half way up the NW shear wall was a horizontal shadow line of a demolished neighbouring roof. The shadow line was about a foot below the horizontal shadow roof line of the adjoining NE shear wall.

After a thump from a Southern Demolition digger, the NW shear wall failed & sheared into the ground, putting huge strain on reinforcement rods in shear walls & reinforcement rods in concrete floors connected to shear walls. The weak rod connections snapped & thin concrete columns supporting the floors snapped. Collapse. N & S shear walls were left standing, with pancaked, collapsed floors horizontal in between. Anything living between those floors before collapse would've been pulverized, DNA in a dust cloud.

At inner cnrs of the N & S shear walls, all floors had reinforcement rods hanging, where concrete floors had snapped off & collapsed. Two thin columns still stood in the middle of the mess between the shear walls, sparse reinforcement rods hanging.

7 images, Manchester St:

29.09.13. Manchester St Bridge view, Oxford Tce & demolition collapsed Copthorne Hotel right. Abandoned Forsyth Barr (Crowne Plaza hotel) left awaiting repairs. Abandoned Victoria Square apartments middle left awaiting demolition for CERA's Blueprint Convention Centre

8 images, Cambridge Tce:

29.09.13. Cambridge Tce view, Oxford Tce & collapsed Copthorne Hotel. Abandoned Forsyth Barr (Crowne Plaza Hotel) left awaiting repairs. Victoria Square apartments right awaiting demolition for CERA's Blueprint Convention Centre

Given that Christchurch red zone CBD was behind the wire for 28 months, guarded by cop & NZDF checkpoints, there would've been more demolition collapsed bldgs hidden from public scrutiny. There'd now be a delay while bureaucrats found out why Copthorne Hotel collapsed during demolition. A waste of time & money.

That demolition fiasco confirmed why I'd never enter any high rise in Christchurch CBD again, no matter how "safe." After 13 000 quakes & many demolition thumpings in the CBD, how many shear walls & other walls had repeatedly bounced, weakening bldgs? Quakes & demolitions weakened reinforcement rods. And Council wanted to reintroduce trams into the CBD, further weakening bldgs with their rumblings.

Those who'd worked behind the wire all those months had a sledge-hammer mentality, which hadn't gone now that public could see what went on. That came from CERA minister Brownlee's red zonings & CBD Blueprint to bash red zone bldgs to bits, bash residential red zoners into submission, bash TC3 green zoners into submission, bash CBD property owners in CERA's Blueprint Frame into submission. But praise EQC & insurers to the skies. Hallelujah!

Behind the wire, Leah had endured months of seismic demolition thumpings at her London St school, due to intermittent SCIRT excavations & part demolitions of nearby Richmond Working Mens Club. She'd had enough & wanted to leave the school, after working there full time for 9 years. Her bosses & colleagues knew her feelings & fears that the school was damaged by demolition & excavation thumpings. (The school was only repaired in 2015, two years after she left).

Behind the wire, Jake had endured seismic thumpings when the Chinese Methodist Church, Papanui Rd, was demolished next door to his Brewers Arms work place. When I told him about Copthorne Hotel collapse he laughed. Deja vu, as an Under The Red Verandah restaurant bldg had collapsed beside him in the 22.02.11 quake. 

Behind the wire at Douglas Furnishers, Horatio St, Luke had endured seismic thumpings while CERES demolition diggers demolished DB Brewery across the road, then crushed salvage concrete on site. Whenever I picked up Luke at work, I experienced seismic thumpings, causing my parked car to bounce, while CERES diggers crushed concrete.

When I mentioned demolition thumpings, Luke stared like I was mad. He'd habituated to the thumpings, although his workplace shook several times daily when a CERES digger thumped.

Like Douglas Furnishers, many weak bldgs along Antigua St, Horatio St & Balfour Tce were slated for CCDU's Metro Sports Facility. Like Copthorne Hotel, they were weakened by 13 000 quakes & 1 000s of digger thumpings. Bugger worker safety, business as usual. 

Meanwhile, CERA appealed a court case which had ruled red zoning illegal. Unless NZ National govt gazetted Avon River red zone as parkland, controlled by Council or DOC, future NZ govts would feed at the Avon River trough, processing red zone land for developers, ignoring the fact that red zones had been "destroyed" by quakes & NZ National govt edict.

*Wandered Victoria Sq, Cambridge Tce, Manchester St.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Rates hike to hit homes (The Press / Stuff Co). 

See Work halted after Copthorne collapse (The Press / Stuff Co). 

See $15m to connect Avon River to sea (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Tremors exposed Earthquake Commission (The Press / Stuff Co).