Army of tradespeople support recovery

This Issue This is a part of the Canterbury earthquakes feature

By - , Build 126

Over 6,500 individual contractors are engaged on eqr projects in Christchurch, and by late August, they had completed over 22,000 emergency and 11,000 full-scope repairs.

House repairs in Dacre Street, Linwood. Photo: Simon Clarke.

In a normal year, the government’s Earthquake Commission (EQC) would expect to handle a few hundred claims for repair of damaged houses. This year is different. Destruction caused by the Canterbury earthquakes will result in insurance damage claims from over 100,000 homeowners.

To handle this unprecedented volume of work, EQC has engaged Fletcher Construction to establish the earthquake recovery (EQR) unit to manage the repair process to houses where the damage has been assessed at between $10,000 and $100,000. It is expected that more than 60,000 claims will be made to EQR under these conditions.

Army of tradespeople working on EQR projects

EQC selected Fletcher because of its proven expertise in construction project management. Fletcher will not perform any building or repair work but will organise and coordinate work, assigning it to independent contractors. Local contractors will be selected first, with resources outside of the region only called upon if required. This local preference also applies to material suppliers and merchants – enabling an additional and much-appreciated boost to the city’s economy.

All contractors engaged must pass an accreditation process, which takes account of professional and trade qualifications, experience and track record. Management and delivery of all work must meet appropriate standards, as EQR (as an agent for the Crown entity EQC) is publicly accountable. So far, over 800 contractors have been accredited, resulting in a small army of over 6,500 individual contractors and tradespeople engaged on EQR projects.

To organise this massive workload, EQR has established 18 hubs in residential areas across Christchurch and surrounding areas. Street by street, contractors meet with homeowners, do the work and move on.

House repairs in Dacre Street, Linwood. Photo: Simon Clarke.

EQR matches the contractor to the job

Barry Akers leads the communications team for EQR and says that an efficient framework is in place. ‘Once EQC has made its assessments and authorised a homeowner’s claim, they hand over to us. Our experienced contract supervisors located in the hub closest to the property contact the homeowner and allocate the repair work to one of their teams of contractors.’

For example, on Dacre Street in Linwood, EQR-appointed contractor Jordent Ltd has been busy demolishing unsafe structures and making property repairs. The earthquakes had tipped one property off its piles, leaving it leaning to one side. The Jordent team jacked the house up and repacked the piles, demolished damaged external brickwork and rebuilt new timber-framed exterior walls.

Barry says matching the right contractor to the job is important. ‘Every job is different. Our hub teams are careful to select the most appropriate crew from the contractors they have available to them.’ The strict contractor accreditation process is also an important contributor to success, with all of their contractors measuring up.

Silver lining to earthquake cloud

A silver lining to the earthquake cloud is the stimulation to the residential building industry. Over 22,000 emergency repairs and 11,000 full-scope repairs have been completed so far. This has generated a total payment of $119 million to local contractors.

For more

You can follow progress of work through the streets and suburbs of the city through EQR’s ‘Scorecard’ at

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House repairs in Dacre Street, Linwood. Photo: Simon Clarke.