Cosmetic Repairs on Structural Damage?

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” – John Lewis

For a long time CanCERN has been grappling with the issue which is often reported to us of cosmetic repairs being applied to structural damage. For the most part, these reports are made in the context of repairs done under the Fletcher Canterbury Home Repair Programme. The reports come from homeowners, contractors and project managers and the claims are disturbingly similar.

In some cases we hear about potential breaches of various Codes and Acts, in other cases we hear of contractors being told to do repairs which blatantly ignore accepted best practice repair methodologies. Often we hear the issue referred to as the ‘next leaky home scenario’. Our problem is there is no one willing to look into this and see if we are talking about a few cases that have fallen through a gap or something on a much wider scale.

We haven’t sat back on these concerns; we have discussed them with almost everyone we believe should have some role in investigating these claims to ascertain their validity, the scale of the issue (if there is in fact one), the systems that would allow such failures and the actions that would need to be taken to ensure the Canterbury housing stock is of good calibre when the repairs are all completed and EQC and Fletcher EQR have packed up and left Canterbury.

To give some idea of who we believe has a role, we have brought this up with the following:

  • CERA
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – MBIE
  • CCC consenting staff
  • EQC board and management
  • Fletcher EQR
  • Office of the Auditor General
  • Parliamentary Ombudsman

The issue from our perspective seems to be that it falls outside of everyone’s jurisdiction to look into the matter with a level of safety and independence that will get the real picture. So many leaders and yet no one has the lead role. Silo mentality at it’s worst.

These agencies above will act when there is an official complaint made about a specific case but this doesn’t address the issue on any wider scale. The homeowners are not generally building experts so how would we how if our home has been repaired properly? Contractors have much to lose if they put their head up and publicly make complaints; they stand to be shut out of the rebuild game and lose their livelihoods.

So we are calling for an independent assessment of the issue (as in independent of EQC and Fletcher EQR to allow full disclosure in a protected process) . We believe it is contractors who need to be spoken to because they know first hand what is happening from the assessment to the repair stage and they know the systems that are in place within EQC and Fletcher EQR which may be allowing cosmetic repairs to be applied to structural damage. They are in fact the experts but we believe, not necessarily the experts with the power of final decision making when it comes to best practice repair methodologies.

We will keep working on it but in the meantime, if there are contractors out there who want to confidentially share case studies which we could use to illustrate there is some validity to these claims please contact leanne@cancern.org.nz. Alternatively, if contractors disagree with the claims above and would like to discuss that further, please also feel free to contact us. We are keen to make sure the facts are correct.

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