Earthquake Preparedness – Is Your Home Secure?

Earthquakes are unpredictable and the best form of defence is to be prepared. Keeping a well-stocked survival kit with food, water and other essential supplies is one way we can care for our family after a shake. We can also prepare our homes too, with the aim to avoid as much damage as we can to both the building and our family members. Read on to learn more about earthquake preparedness for your home and family.

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Posted In: Architects, Builders, EQC Help

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after an earthquakeAfter an earthquake, there are some things you’ll need to check or get done straight away. First, inspect your foundations and essential services first. You must check they are are safe and secure and unaffected by the earthquake. Next, contact your insurance company and EQC. This is because they need to approve your claim before you hire a tradesperson, unless you need emergency repairs.

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Posted In: Carterton, Central Otago, EQC Help, Handymen, Invercargill, Kaikoura, Kaipara, Roofers

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repair earthquake damageWe have received many questions about which jobs you can use Builderscrack for, versus those that you need to have pre-approved by the Earthquake Commission.

To help clarify requirements when you want to repair earthquake damage, guidelines are set out below.

Emergency work to repair earthquake damage

If you require emergency repairs to your house (e.g. security, safety, and weatherproofing issues), you need to contact EQC or EQR (Fletchers) and organise through them first.

Non-emergency work where your claim has been settled by EQC

Builderscrack is an ideal place for you to source tradesmen to repair earthquake damage where your claim has already been settled by EQC. However, if the work includes structural and/or chimney damage get in contact with EQC first for advice on how to proceed.

Repairs costing between $10,000 and $100,000

You have two options for using Builderscrack to find tradesmen to help repair earthquake damage  to your house when the value of the damage has been assessed at less than $100,000 + GST. Once you have posted the job on Builderscrack you can either:

Use any tradesman of your choice provided that you complete the opt out forms (phone EQC and ask for them), which enable you to do the work outside of the Fletchers EQR scheme. Ask your selected tradesman to provide a detailed quote which covers the same areas as those on the scope of works completed by the EQC estimators. Then submit the quote to EQC.

If the tradesman provides a higher quote than the original EQC assessment, discuss this difference with EQC and reach an agreement regarding any additional costs: EQC will not pay more than its estimated value of the repairs without further agreement. Once EQC has accepted the quote, the builder may begin the repair work.

Make sure to obtain any necessary building consents before work begins – your selected tradesman should be able to help with this. Normal best practices apply when choosing a tradesman – ask for details regarding licensing and insurances, see the section choosing a tradesperson. Note that it is possible for EQC to make progress payments provided that the appropriate details are laid out on the tax invoice.

PLEASE NOTE – even if you opt out, Fletchers will pay the tradespeople directly – they will not pay you.

Or, choose a tradesman on Builderscrack that has already been accredited by Fletchers EQR (specify this is what you would like in the details when listing your job). Once you have selected an EQR accredited tradesperson, ask them to quote on your job and contact the relevant Fletchers EQR office to discuss project management.

Tradesmen, see the EQC guidelines regarding how to prepare invoices.

Repairs costing less than $10,000

You will receive a payout in this case. Then post your job on Builderscrack and tradespeople will chase you. You define and manage the work and pay the contractors.

Posted In: Builders, Christchurch, EQC Help

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The Canterbury Earthquake has affected us, our neighbours family and friends personally. Jeremy, a director, and the CTO of Builderscrack.co.nz, is based in Christchurch, and describes his personal earthquake experience. Given the importance of Christchurch to us, we want to do as much as we can to help make the repair effort as efficient as possible.

christchurch earthquakeWe recognise that the demand for builders, plumbers, roofers and handymen after the Christchurch earthquake is going to be high. For a large number of repairs, the work required will be urgent. Builderscrack.co.nz is in a good position to help. When tradesmen are busy, phoning around can be particularly frustrating.

Builderscrack has over 9,000 tradesmen actively looking for work (with over 1,000 of these in Christchurch and surrounding areas). Having seen the damage on TV, a number of tradesmen from around NZ have contacted Builderscrack with offers to help out in Christchurch.

If you need a tradesman to help with your Christchurch earthquake repairs, please post your job on Builderscrack, and we will ensure that you find someone who can help.

Insurance

For any emergency/urgent repairs, post your job, lodge your claim with the EQC (if insured). Take photos of the damage before it is fixed and keep all receipts. For any non urgent repairs check with your insurance company first.

For information about EQC processes see Christchurch Earthquake EQC information.

Posted In: Christchurch, EQC Help

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SHAKE SHAKE

I’m awake – tired, but wide awake! The whole house is shaking. I knew that when I jumped out of bed and couldn’t stand that this was one big earthquake. Jo, my wife, jumped out of bed and said grab the baby (I had to as I found out later because her arm was asleep and couldn’t hold anything). Then the lights started to flick on and off. Then they went off for good. I could hear crashing, smashing and rumbling. I thought the house was collapsing. I started to move towards our baby daughter and the quake assisted by throwing me into her room. She was fast asleep for the first time that morning. I took her out of the swing and bolted down the pitch dark stairs with her in my arms.

Jo was busy telling the older kids to get under the doorways. Our four year old was onto it however. She was already ducking and covering as taught in Kindy. Our 6 year old was a little more aware, and was notably frightened, but he was doing what he was told.

I couldn’t find a torch. I went for the pantry but my feet told me the entire contents of it were over the kitchen floor. I knew there was a torch somewhere there, but also knew I had no chance of finding it now!

Next my thoughts were this – that was a very big earthquake and we live in a city near an ocean. I had no idea where the quake epicentre was. All I thought was quake + ocean = bad. I said to Jo I think we should drive and then shouted to the kids to get their dressing gowns on, we’re getting in the car.

It was still dark. I went to the garage and in the dim light I noticed that a whole lot of wood sheets had trapped the car. I moved the wood, manually opened the garage door, and we managed to get all three kids into the car. So far about 5-10 minutes had passed since the quake. We were now a family unit and could move together – I felt a lot safer even though we were still in the driveway.

We saw our neighbour Graeme across the road and we called him over to talk. I told him what I was thinking. However he was of the understanding that a tsunami wouldn’t reach us – although we are only a few metres above sea level, we are some distance from the coast. My brain now starting to engage, thought, “yeah, you’re right”. My 6 year old son who had now calmed down was saying “Dad, this is just like a movie” – yeah, he was right, you usually see this stuff on the big screen.

LIGHT OF DAY

Jo, the baby, the two oldest kids and I snuggled up in my son’s bed. I dozed for an hour while the kids next to me watched a movie on my laptop. Around 8am another big aftershock happened. We just stayed put and watched the trees swaying outside. I was now relatively nonplussed as I was exhausted and the large aftershock was nothing compared to the main quake.

We got up and surveyed the damage. We got off pretty light really. The pantry contents were on the floor, a big mirror in the lounged smashe on the ground, a number of plates, vases and glasses smashed, a wall with cracks in it, dishwasher broken, floor slightly buckled, and two chimneys damaged. It could have been worse – we still had a solid roof and four walls!

We went and talked with more neighbours. They gave us coffee and exchanged stories. One of our neighbours got his BBQ out and fired it up on the street.

LOCAL DAMAGE

It was apparent that our neighbours and us had relatively little damage compared to other parts of the city. We rounded up a few neighbourhood kids and went for a walk to assess the damage in the local area. We saw the damaged Methodist church on Papanui Road and beside a van now flattened by the fallen bricks. Also every second chimney was down and people were busy weather proofing their houses while the sun was out.

After the kids were in bed and my four year old daughter had made herself safe for the night, we settled down and started to watch the TV coverage. Next thing, Paul our neighbour knocked on the door excitedly telling me to get my camera and follow him down the street. A water main had just exploded and was showering water 30 metres into the air over the road and a house. It was impressive to see just how much pressure is in those pipes!

Well that’s about it – the after shakes continued into the next day.

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Posted In: Christchurch, EQC Help

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Project Managers in the construction industry are responsible for setting schedules, keeping an eye on finances, managing staff and ensuring there are no safety hazards on site.

project managerProject managers are hired to lead and oversee building projects from beginning to end. These jobs can be a small remodelling or renovation job or the construction of a large residential decelopment.

A Project Manager will be involved from the beginning of a project with initial planning, selection of architects, general contractors, builders and other parties.

Project Managers may perform some of these tasks:

  • Project management planning –  laying out a plan for the entire project specifying the tasks and materials needed to complete to a timeline
  • Cost management. Keep tabs on costs, making allowances for unexpected complications
  • Quality management. Projects can involve multiple contractors and subcontractors; Project managers make sure they’re all doing their job properly
  • Contract administration. Ensure the contract provisions are being met and all related parties are satisfied.
  • Safety management. Construction sites are filled with potential safety hazards that Project managers must be aware of and guard against.

When hiring a Project Manager, ensure they are experts at keeping everyone in the loop during the project, from the homeowner, architect and contractor to the electrician, plumber or earthworks contractors and are able to quickly resolve any problems that might happen.

Posted In: Auckland, Christchurch, Project Managers, Wellington

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eqc helpWith the earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011, people may need help in dealing with EQC and EQR (Fletchers construction).

If you are in need of advice or help, then you can now get help with project managers and builders with experience in dealing with both EQC and EQR.

Usually these people have worked as EQC inspectors in the past providing incredible useful insight in to the process.

Easy Ways to Quake Safe Your Home has tips  gives you tips on how to prevent damage and injury from earthquakes.

EQC Help specialists may assist with claims for Canterbury residents

Hire an EQC help specialist

Fletcher EQR is the Project Management Office established by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) to project manage the repair of homes damaged in the earthquakes, where the damage is estimated at up to $100,000 plus GST per claim.

Repairs estimated at less than $15,000 plus GST are normally cash-settled by EQC, except where structural damage is involved. Fletcher EQR is a business unit of The Fletcher Construction Company.

What to do during an earthquake

  • Quickly drop, cover and hold.
  • Drop to the ground (to avoid falling).
  • Take cover under something strong, like a sturdy desk or table.
  • Hold onto it until the shaking stops.

eqc help

  • Don’t try to run in an earthquake.
  • You’re generally safer inside than outside

Posted In: Christchurch, EQC Help, Inspectors

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surveyorsA construction surveyor inspects and measures land parcels that are being considered for building projects.  They’ll gather information on all of the land characteristics, including boundaries, elevation, size and curves of the plot. This is used by other interested parties to decide on the best use of the land.

A construction surveyor or engineer will work in a range of environments surveying projects that include residential developments, commercial buildings, malls, highways and even airports. They may work for a private company or for a local body authority.

They are often required to produce plats, which are maps defining property boundaries and describing geographic features. Analysis and planning sessions will include homeowners, survey staff, construction crew and other interested parties.

When hiring a construction surveyor or engineer, you can expect they will use a range of instruments, some of which are unique to their profession.  Specialised survey instruments include ones to measure angles and altitude which are called altimeters and theodolites. A property is often marked with rods and stakes to denote boundaries or points to start building

Accurately assessing the characteristics and boundaries of a piece of land isn’t always easy. Old documents and drawings may be needed to determine where legal boundaries lie. Surveyors may use electronic devices, computer software and GPS to help in their analysis of land plots.

Once plans are complete, the surveyor will continue to work with the builder, confirming details regarding elevation and points for construction to start prior to ground breaking. If a builder has queries about boundaries or altitude the surveyor or engineer will be able to provide answers.

The services offered by Surveyors and Engineers include:

  • Boundary surveys
  • Planning

Posted In: Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hastings, Invercargill, Surveyors

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A scaffolder is a building professional who specializes in putting up scaffolds and platforms. Scaffolders erect scaffolds related to building construction.

scaffoldingPutting up scaffolding starts with determining the requirements for the job and making a plan. Scaffolding is classically made from metal pipes which can be clicked together to create a frame which is easily configured as needs change. Wood can also be used.

As it is put up, platforms are established for holding tools and walking. The scaffolder also erects safety measures such as nets to catch dropped tools. When the job is finished, scaffolders dismantle the it and take it away.

Scaffolding is needed for some building construction, along with painting, renovation, and restoration of all sorts of structures. A scaffolder may work as part of a team of people to put up a stable, well-anchored scaffolding which may stay up for weeks, months, or years, depending on the job. It may need to be adjusted and reconfigured every so often as the job progresses, and a scaffolder may have special concerns if restoration work is occurring, as he or she wants to avoid damaging the structure beneath the scaffolding.

When hiring a scaffolding professional check their reviews and references to make sure they are have knowledge of all applicable building laws.

A Scaffolding installer or tradesperson may:

  • Install scaffolding
  • Dismantle, remove and adjust scaffolding
  • Provide stairway towers up the side of a building
  • Add temporary weatherproof roofing
  • Offer custom designed encapsulation systems
  • Provide and install commercial Rubbish Chutes
  • Provide propping systems to support scaffolding

Posted In: Dunedin, Far North, Fiordland, Scaffolding

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plumberA plumber is someone who specializes in the installation and repair of pipes which are used to carry water, gas, sewage, and wastewater. These pipes are often collectively referred to as “plumbing”.  When a new building is being constructed, a plumber is typically part of the construction crew.

He or she determines where pipes should be laid, and takes care of the installation of these pipes. They also typically connects the internal plumbing to external fixtures like sinks, showers, and washing machines. A plumber may also handle gas lines for heating and cooking, and some pursue certification in heating and cooling systems as well. Often, they work in concert with an electrician, a professional who specializes in electrical matters.

Plumbers also repair breaks and replace old piping. A plumber may be called to unclog a toilet, fix a leaky faucet, or to check on old pipes which may be warped or leaking. Things like drains and repiping can also get quite complicated, and plumbers sometimes uncover unpleasant surprises like rot during their course of their work, which may necessitate getting another professional involved to fix the problem.

The services of a plumber include:

  • Fixing leaks
  • House plumbing
  • Water cylinders
  • Guttering, sewage and drains
  • Pumps and taps
  • Shower installation and repair
  • Toilet repair and installation
  • Bath repair and installation,
  • Hot water pressure
  • Drainlaying
  • Filtering
  • Bathroom renovation
  • Waste water
  • Sink and washing machine repair

When hiring a Plumber check that they are currently registered

Posted In: Auckland, Hamilton, Plumbers, South Waikato, Wellington

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