Monday, 8 September 2014

Watch this space...

It really feels like there is little more to say about our own home. It is getting close to perfect for us, and the parts that remain unfinished (installing a garden, re-instating the original kitchen) are a long way off right now.

So it sort of felt like the right thing to do to go and buy another house. It has been well-loved and needs a little bit more love right now.

We are on a tight deadline to get it looking good, so that it will be ready for someone very lucky to rent by November.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A long time between posts...

It's not that nothing has been happening, it's more that it's been hard to decide how to document things that have happened in anything other than a really really really boring way.

It's that damn cliff/bank. It is so crazy. I've decided the least boring way is to do it as briefly as possible.  [postscript - I really really tried to do it briefly, but it didn't pan out that way...apologies for the length, the ranty-ness, the numbers, the lack of humour...]  Here's a summary of the History of our Bank.

August 2010 - record breaking rainfall, and a landslide occurs behind the house. A Large Engineering Firm designs a remediation strategy - estimated to cost about $140,000.  The recommendation for this work is being processed when....

February 2011 - record breaking earthquake occurs, loess (that's not a typo - google it) detaches and tumbles down, large tension cracks appear at the top of the cliff. We move out, as logic tells us that sitting beneath this monster of a cliff, with hundreds of aftershocks occurring daily, is probably a bad idea.

April 2011 - one of Christchurch's most respected geotechnical engineers (let's call him David) visits our property and advises us not to occupy the house until several urgent remedial steps are taken to prevent further 'subsidence' of the cliff.

April 2011 - December 2012 - I phone the EQC weekly for updates on the situation. I am variously told that:

  • the cliff will be repaired (using the strategy previously outlined by the Large Engineering Firm)
  • there is imminent risk that the cliff will suffer significant collapse in the near future
  • there is not imminent risk that the cliff will suffer significant collapse
  • that we will get paid $140,000 to fix the cliff ourselves
  • a full information pack is to be sent out this month (early 2012) to all landowners with claims
  • that we will get paid the value of the land which was inundated by soil
  • a full information pack is to be sent out by the end of August 2012 to all landowners with claims
  • that we will get paid nothing
  • a full information pack is to be sent out before Christmas 2012 to all landowners with claims

20 December 2012 - our 'information pack' arrives. Read all about it here

January 2013 - getting fed up (I'm a pretty patient little lady), I request all the documentation relating to our land claim, under the Official Information Act (which is the only way the poor peeps of Christchurch were able to see any kind of paperwork relating to our claims). I am told it will take 21 working days to be processed. 

23 May 2013 - I don't need a maths degree to tell me that this is significantly longer than 21 working days later.....  our paperwork arrives. Included are a large number of outdated photographs (from more than two years previously) of damage that has subsequently worsened. Also included are a series of reports relating to possible remediation strategies (including the aforementioned $140,00 option proposed by the Large Engineering Firm), estimates of costs of said strategies, and a recommendation for payment. 

One of the pages, dated 7 January 2013, states that 'imminent risk no longer exists as there has been more than 4 seasons of normal weather conditions since the event that gave rise to the claim'. WTF? It also recommends that we are paid $2,860.85 in total - the estimated cost for contractors to come and take away the land that has fallen down around our house. I repeat - W.T.F!  So, somewhere along the way, they reckon that we're clear, that the cliff isn't going to fall on us, despite the large tension cracks (which basically represent huge chunks of land just awaiting collapse) that sit at the top.  And, meanwhile, the poor people who own the house at the top of the cliff, certainly aren't allowed to consider rebuilding up there - it's not safe enough for them, but it's ok for us to sit down the bottom??

Understandably, I was a bit dismayed/freaked out/perturbed/confused/angry about this information. This wasn't helped by a subsequent phone call to the EQC, where the woman at the other end of the phone cheerfully told me that I was going to get a cheque for over $2000! I politely asked her where I was supposed to find the other $138,000 required to actually stop the cliff falling on us. 

And then shit just starts to get random (I know - and this is the short version of events).

20 October 2013 A letter entitled "Your land claim settlement" arrives. I am nervous. The first thing I notice is a cheque. The second thing I notice is that it is for $8,550. Confused, I read on. There are more copies of the old photos of our cliff, and there is an excel spreadsheet with a series of numbers, and some kind of calculations, the bottom line of which is $8,550. 

I take the cheque and immediately deposit it into our bank account. I am furious at myself for thinking that getting less than $10,000 for a $140,000 problem might be adequate.  

I get really mad.

I briefly consider going back to the EQC and appealing the payment - I have fantasies of taking them to court, and being triumphant. 

I realise that would be expensive. And probably futile. I worry that if I appeal they might say that they only meant to pay me $2000 and I need to give $6000 back. I think of all the people worse of than us. I get depressed.

I get resigned.  I give up. 

Someone recommends an engineer (lets call him Endel), and I ask him to come and look, and help us to design and build our own wall - a compromise. We can't afford to stop the bank falling down, but we can hopefully build something that stops it annihilating our house, or killing our child, when it eventually does. 

Last week - the engineer came. He sat at our dining table and waded through the one hundred pages of EQC crap. He understood more than I did. He was as confused as I was as to why they suddenly decided there was 'no imminent risk'.  He agreed that the entire reason the EQC exists is to help people like us repair land issues like that.  He agreed that an appeal would probably be futile. He understood that we cannot financially afford to stop the cliff falling. He drew some pictures of some structures that might help protect us when it does.  He was a Helpful Engineer. He didn't laugh when I told him our budget. He was relieved that I realised that the cheque we got from EQC wasn't going to come close to building anything. He seemed sensitive to the fact that we will have to increase our mortgage significantly to pay for it. He has gone away to have a think about it, and to come up with a solution to our problem.

For the first time since August 2010, I am actually feeling slightly optimistic about our land. Slightly. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Getting the gang together...

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted the original owners of our house, and an architect from the firm that designed it. Another architect and the project manager were also going to come, but one forgot and the other was too busy.

Over afternoon tea (those aren't chicken nuggets in that bowl - they're cheese choux pastry puffs - far fancier), and a few wines, we talked about the design process, the budget (we used to think it was really modest, but in actual fact it was substantial for the time), and how happy the owners were with their house (= very).

It was lovely to sit around and chat. As always, we learnt a few things, had a few laughs.

Matt followed up with the other architect (who forgot to make it) last weekend, and again had a very fruitful conversation...more later.

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Stupidly, one of the first things we did when we moved in, was rip out the shelves in Clem's room-to-be.  I was heavily pregnant, and obsessed with how his room should be, and it didn't include shelves. So dumb. Anyway, we arranged for our builder to replicate and re-install the shelves.  

It took a while, but after some tempting with baked goods, he came with the new shelves this week. 

I oiled the wood (rimu) with the same stuff we used on the stairs. Unfortunately, I was a bit slapdash, and accidentally dipped a long piece of my hair in the tin of oil. And instead of washing it out, I left it there for the day, so it got really dry. Anyway, I had to chop out a chunk of my hair to get rid of it, which I haven't had to do since I got chewing gum in my hair when I was about 11.

The shelves look good though...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

It's been a while...

...which is generally a good sign. No problems = no posts. 

There was a big storm a couple of weeks back, that caused a couple of smallish trees to fall down outside the kitchen window:

And a couple more slips in the bank:

We are just hunkered down, enjoying our house, keeping warm....with a little help from our new log-burner. 

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Fortnightly rubble

Once a fortnight (when our rubbish bins are collected), I take a plastic bucket and fill it with small pieces of rubble to throw away.  These pieces are generally either lying on our lawn, or are uncovered in the vege garden. They consist of mortar, brick and glass.  Two years after the quake, that is about fifty buckets of rubble...and no sign of it easing off. Sigh.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

We decided to do something

Following on from my last post, we have become so tired of sitting around waiting for things to happen with regard to EQC, we decided to splash out and plant the garden which leads up the path.

Actually, rather than doing it ourselves, we are getting these nice men to do it for us.

It is a bit extravagant, but I think it will make all the difference, we haven't had any garden to speak of since we moved in, and it was always important to me to have something nice to look at.

Apparently it will be finished by the end of the week.