5 years since Christchurch changed

getimage (5)Five years ago today, 436,000 lives in Canterbury changed.

We did not know by how much or when we might return to normal, but we can agree that the upheaval started with a 7.1-magnitude earthquake 40 kilometers west of Christchurch just after 4.30 am on September 4, 2010.

The devastating aftershock that struck the city nearly six months later changed Canterbury on a much larger scale, but September was the start.

How do you measure and define the recovery? Dollars spent? Time elapsed? There is no right answer.

In truth, there are 436,000 different recoveries happening at once – one for every resident of Christchurch city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

No two versions of recovery are the same.

We have each taken stock of the process countless times and probably arrived at different conclusions for how the recovery is faring.

In the interests of providing the fullest answer possible, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) asked a cross-section of key players in the rebuild to report their progress by a handful of measures, including project size, completion date and value. Dozens responded.

This year, perhaps for the first time, that snapshot hints at conclusion. The Earthquake Commission has completed 97 per cent of its 69,081 building repairs and 80 per cent of 150,735 land claims. More than 80 per cent of all quake insurance claims are settled, according to the Insurance Council of New Zealand. The Stronger Canterbury Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) is 76 per cent through it $2.2 billion job of repairing the city’s roads and pipes. Almost all of the work in the central city (96 per cent) is finished.

The CECC asked respondents when they expected to finish their work. Some major projects, including the central city bus interchange and the ‘‘Deloitte’’ building on Cambridge Tce, are already finished. Next year looms as a big leap forward with a cluster of retail developments – the BNZ Centre, the ANZ Centre on the old Triangle Centre site, the Crossing and the Terrace – all scheduled for completion.

‘‘I would think by the end of next year, October 2016, when the heart of that central city retail offering is up and operational . . . you’re going to see a major shift,’’ CECC chief executive Peter Townsend said. ‘‘You’re going to see people coming back into the central city in ways that we haven’t seen for five years.’’

A Cera report from July estimated the rebuild – measured as progress in residential, nonresidential and civil construction – was 41 per cent complete. Of the three categories, only residential construction spending was trending down. The other two were steady or climbing. The peak for all construction in the city (including business-as-usual building) is shaping as the last quarter of 2016, when Cera estimates $1.3b will be spent.

The idea the rebuild was already peaking was ‘‘fallacious’’, Townsend said. He puts progress at somewhere between 35 and 40 per cent. The decline, when it did come, would be gradual. ‘‘We’re not going to fall off a cliff. The Government’s assessment of the end of this earthquake recovery phase is 2026. We’re going to taper off.’’

In construction terms, Cera estimated that would translate to a decline from the late 2016 spending peak to about $500m in the final quarter of 2021. By then, Christchurch will have almost spent all of the $40b recovery bill.

‘‘That [spending] has an impact on the future of Christchurch that I don’t think people have factored in,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘I’ve often been challenged by people saying ‘We’re only replacing what we’ve lost.’ No we’re not. It’s all new. We are recreating a city.

‘‘I don’t know anywhere in the world where $40b has been tipped into a population of 360,000 people to recreate a city. It’s unique.’’

The bulk of the money will filter through the economy via insurance payouts (according to the Insurance Council, commercial and residential quake claims are about 88 per cent and 84 per cent settled respectively) but some will arrive through big ticket developments. The University of Canterbury will spend $1.2b on its redevelopment by 2022, including new engineering ($145m) and science ($216m) facilities due by 2016 and 2017. The Ministry of Education’s $1.1b Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme includes the rebuild of 115 schools. The $900m redevelopment of Lyttelton port – a mix of quake repairs and expansion – will continue until 2042.

As those time frames suggest, the rebuild was never going to be a five-year job. Charles Eadie, who led the rebuild of Santa Cruz city after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, told Fairfax Media the recovery reached a ‘‘turning point’’ six years after the quake and most work was completed after 10 years.

‘‘I think we’ll look back on this period of our lives and say . . . we were hopelessly optimistic when it came to time frames,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘We all thought we’d be over this in five years. No, we won’t.’’

The statement is truer of some things than others – Scirt prioritising central city infrastructure repairs over suburban ones, for example.

‘‘I don’t want us to get to 10 years and think that we’re in that kind of state we won’t be able to reflect very positively on our journey,’’ Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The focus brought on the central city by the recovery blueprint and the magnitude of the task of repairing broken parts of eastern Christchurch posed that risk, she said.

Source:

The Press

Christchurch Soldiers On!

1431085048320Construction activity in Christchurch may well have plateaued, but rumours of the demise of the earthquake-induced construction boom have been greatly exaggerated, says Hugh De Lacy. You can’t drop $40 billion in insurance and government money on a region of fewer than half a million people without creating a construction boom, even if initially most of the money is spent on urgent demolition and repairs. Once those two phases were completed, new construction would continue to drive the regional economy for years to come.

That would seem to be the wisdom derived from Canterbury’s recovery from the earthquakes of 2010-2011, and rumours that the reconstruction phase has run its course and there’s a rapid wind-down in effect simply can’t be substantiated. The fact is that while most of the demolition of buildings, and the repair and reconstruction of infrastructure are well advanced, and despite Fletcher Earthquake Recovery (EQR) winding up its $4 billion residential repairs programme at the end of this year, construction is still booming in Christchurch and throughout the Canterbury region.

That’s not to say there isn’t a shakedown under way, and that a lot of smaller companies are dropping out of the game, especially in the painting and decorating niches of the building construction sector. But according to John Ombler, acting chief executive of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), there’s still growth in overall rebuild construction.

“The forecasts tell us that we can expect peak activity in construction through to about 2017, before an easing expected in 2018,” Ombler told Contractor. There are, however, variations in the level of activity of the various construction sectors.

“For example, EQC’s [the Earthquake Commission’s] Canterbury home repair programme is largely complete [but] at the same time there is still considerable repair and rebuild happening, and a huge amount of public sector work still in the pipeline.” This includes schools, tertiary institutions, health facilities like Christchurch hospital, the Metro Sports Facility and the East Frame residential neighbourhood. “We have just seen the opening of Christchurch’s new $53 million Bus Interchange, and work on the Justice and Emergency Precinct is well progressed.” Ombler said that overall building consent figures are on “a steady upward trend that we have seen every year since 2012”.

He noted that SCIRT, the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team of leading contractors charged with the rebuild of the city horizontal infrastructure, is 70 percent of the way through its work programme. “Indicators such as economic growth and employment continue to show Canterbury leading the performance of major centres in New Zealand,” Ombler says. That may well be the case overall, but at the lower end of the food chain there are persistent reports of smaller entities falling over or copping out.

Paul Robertson, the principal of mid-sized construction and earthworks company Civil and Land, based in Amberley, North Canterbury, reckons there’s a slump in the work available for companies like his, which has a permanent workforce of about 20.He cites the case of the Hurunui District Council, the northernmost of the three districts and the city affected by the quakes, tendering out a five to 10 year road maintenance contract. “I’ve never seen so many contractors apply for it: you usually only get two or three, but 12 main contractors have applied for this one – which just shows there’s no confidence in the rebuild because contractors are now looking for work in the longer term,” Robertson said.

However, he did cite meeting health and safety (H&S) and compliance measures as a major burden for smaller firms. Fletcher EQR’s arrival on the local residential scene turned it upside down with its insistence on big-company H&S and compliance standards, and its assigning work to only those contractors and subcontractors who had passed through its induction process. Even in things like traffic management, small companies are struggling to get employees formally qualified to put out traffic cones, just so they’re entitled to tick the appropriate boxes on the paperwork. “Everything is bits of paper today, and if you don’t pull your bits of paper out you don’t get started,” Robertson says.

But while painters and decorators might be abandoning Christchurch for the fairer fields of Auckland residential construction, they’re not flooding car yards with second-hand ex-leased utes at Christchurch Airport as one rumour has it. David Crawford, chief executive of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand, was quite upbeat when contacted by Contractor.

Sales figures of light commercials are still “staggering” nationwide, having gone up 25 percent in 2013, 19 percent in 2014, and 14 percent in the year to date. Crawford says luxury vehicle sales, the lead indicator of demand changes for new vehicles – which forewarned of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis by slumping 12 months before it, and afterwards began to recover about 10 months before the rest of the market – were still going strong, up “very slightly” this year compared to last.

And Dion Jones, general manager of Turners Auctions, the country’s biggest motor vehicle auction house, said repossessions and arrears in the light commercial sector were “as low as they’ve ever been”. This was despite companies “discounting the pants” off new vehicles to encourage buyers to ante up the extra couple of thousand dollars for a new vehicle rather than a used one.

So the shape of the Christchurch rebuild may be changing, and there may be challenges for small companies to adapt to the paperwork requirements of H&S and other forms of compliance, but the volume of work remains high. Brian Warren, chief executive of Christchurch’s Isaac Construction, summed it up by saying there may have been a drop-off in demand, “but it’s not as if it’s come to the top of a steep curve and dropped off the other side in a steep curve either. “That said, we certainly noticed a drop-off at the beginning of this calendar year. It’s come back a little bit now, but certainly it’s less than it was 12 months ago.”

That most telling barometer of economic activity, employment, bears Warren’s assessment out: Canterbury added 11,900 new jobs in the latest March year, though this was down from a peak of 34,000 added in the year to the end of last September, with most of those increases coming in the construction and food services industries.

Source:

  • Charles Fairbairn
  • contractormag.co.nz

Town Hall contract signed

1436384954063The Christchurch Town Hall has been largely stripped back to its concrete frame, but the bones of the place still evoke strong memories.

Those special memories were shared yesterday as the contract was signed to restore the earthquake-damaged building over the next three years: designs sketched on a kitchen table, children graduating and people queuing to visit on opening day.

The Christchurch Town Hall will be restored and strengthened over the next three years at a cost of $127.5 million. The main auditorium has been partially stripped out in preparation for the revamp.

The contract was signed in the heritage building’s foyer with restoration and strengthening work costing $127.5 million, largely funded by $68.9 million in insurance money.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel remembered visiting the building on opening day in 1972.

“I remember thinking this [foyer space] was so big,” she said.

“The queue went for miles. We all came in and we marveled at this incredible building.

“This place has been where we come together as a city to celebrate. This adds up financially and emotionally for the benefit of the city as a whole. Roll on 2018 and the opening day.”

Original architect Sir Miles Warren remembered designing the building on his kitchen table in Church Bay over the Christmas holidays in 1965.

“That was the beginning of a wonderful building process,” he said.

“It really was the most important commission that Warren and Mahoney ever received in competition. We became a national practice rather than just Christchurch architects in the process.”

Council rebuild manager David Adamson thought of family moments.

“All my children graduated through this place,” he said.

Regional Manager Steve Taw had memories of soft rock.

“I remember the last time I came here was for a concert. It was George Thorogood and the Destroyers.”

Council chief executive Karleen Edwards said the restoration would improve the Town Hall.

“We all have memories of coming here. We all have a special memory about this place. The city has missed having the Town Hall.

“There is a real opportunity to make this place better than it was.”

The building has been largely stripped back in preparation for the restoration. Carpets have been taken up, the floor of the auditorium has been stripped out and fixtures have been removed and stored. The process has revealed the full extent of how much the floor of the main auditorium warped in the Canterbury earthquakes.

The concrete floor of the auditorium bulges like the top of a sphere. The difference in height between the centre of the bulge and the edge of the floor is about 50 centimeters. Despite this, the walls and structure of the building have remained relatively intact.

The ground beneath the Town Hall will be fixed with more than 1000 jet grout piles, creating an eight-metre deep concrete grid beneath the building. A new concrete slab for the whole Town Hall complex will be poured on top of the new piles.

The Limes Room, which has moved towards the Avon River and risen at one end, will be suspended on scaffolding while new columns are built underneath to make it level again.

Source:

  • Stacy Squires
  • The Press

Christchurch catching up

rebuildgraphicCatching up is hard to do, but Christchurch appears to have managed it and then some.

Four years after the earthquakes The Press has found many underlying indicators returning to normal and others more typical of a rebuilding city.

There are no prizes for guessing that the construction industry has produced a huge amount of activity in the city. Compared to 2010, dwelling consents have quadrupled in Christchurch and, according to cement producers Holcim, twice as much cement has been sold.

Car imports coming over the Lyttelton wharfs have increased by about 15,000 in a 2010-2014 comparison and working-age people dependent on benefits have decreased in Christchurch by about 8077.

Container traffic at Lyttelton Port of Christchurch in the 2014 financial year was about 100,000 containers higher than in 2010.

The median household income was about $48,000 in 2010 and has risen to an inflation- adjusted figure of more than $54,000 in 2014. While Christchurch seems to be a bit richer than in 2010, it has lost about 7000 people, according to the 2006 and 2013 censuses.

A smaller population is not reflected in flows at the Bromley Treatment Plant, however. In the year before the first earthquake the current daily flow was 155,544 cubic metres a day and in 2014 it had gone up to 215,280m3/day. The 40 per cent increase in flow was mainly because of groundwater getting into the system through cracked pipes, a council spokeswoman said.

Electricity supplied has yet to return to 2010 levels and Orion New Zealand has about 2000 fewer customers.

Orion spokesman Stephen Godfrey said power usage on the Orion network fell 10 per cent after the February 2011 earthquake but energy usage had recently begun to recover as homes were rebuilt and the city grew. “However, it may be [several] years before power usage returns to 2010 levels. Power usage throughout the country has been flat in recent years as energy efficiency in homes and businesses improves.”

The number of diesel- powered machines in Christchurch has not translated into a big increase in bulk fuel supplies coming into Christchurch and the tonnage in 2014 has not increased much over the 2010 figure.

Christchurch Airport has yet to achieve the level of activity it had in 2010, with passenger numbers and aircraft movements down on 2010.

Source:

  • The Press
  • Martin Van Beynen

Cost a factor in rebuild

base isolation0.3Christchurch developers are shying away from using base isolation technology, which protects buildings against earthquake damage, as they seek to reduce costs…

For more follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1827

Disaster rebuild only 10% complete

10458637Christchurch is only about 10 per cent repaired four years after a destructive 18-month earthquake sequence started, a city business leader says.

For more follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1822

Half way point for SCIRT

SCCZEN_A_020812CSTGSCBD1_620x310Repairs to Christchurch’s severely damaged infrastructure have reached the halfway point, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says…

For more follow the link below;

 

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1811

 

Quake claims payouts tops $12 billion

SCCZEN_A_020812CSTGSCBD1_620x310Insurance payouts for Canterbury earthquake claims have topped $12 billion, the Insurance Council of New Zealand says…

For more follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1808

Tough demolition requires unusual methods!

heliMore than 100 tonnes of building waste are being airlifted off the Port Hills as part of Christchurch’s first helicopter-assisted demolition…

For more of this story follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1796

 

Sports hub plan goes before council

sportAn ambitious concept plan for a $107 million sports hub in the southwest of Christchurch has been unveiled…

For more follow the link below;

http://www.christchurchrebuild.co.nz/?p=1790

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