Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Process begins...

WARNING: The following post is very long and wordy, and the only photo is this one above which I explain at the end, so if you don't like reading or are only interested in photos then jump to the bottom!

Wow, so the whole landslide thing has turned into a bit of a drawn out process. I was initially a little apprehensive about the whole cliff (and the house at the top of it) falling down, so called the council in the first instance. A nice man named Brian came and looked at the cliff and said "hmm, it's certainly a slip" and "hmm, unfortunately it's not our department" and "well, at least it's not as bad as the house two doors up - their cliff is steeper, and closer to their house" and with a final "well, I'm sympathetic, but..." he left.

So I called our insurance company who said "Landslide? We don't do landslides, you need to talk to the Earthquake Commission".

So... I phoned the Earthquake Commission who said they would send an assessor out to have a look-see.

Several days later Paul came round. "Hmm," he said. He took some photos. He explained The Process - and here I was thinking I was nearing the end of the process... oh no, The Process starts with Paul. Paul comes to say "yes, there's a landslide" (just in case we were telling porkies). Then he sends an engineer (a lovely chap named Shamus - more of him later) to assess how bad the landslide is, and whether it is going to get much worse anytime soon. Then a valuer comes round to assess the value of our land that has been affected by the slip. Then an estimator comes to estimate the cost of cleaning up the damage from the slip. Then we get paid the lesser of those two - either the value of land we have lost, or the cost of clearing up. Nobody actually does anything, we might just get a bit of money to put towards hauling wet dirt away. Or some compensation for the land that we can't use anymore cos there's wet dirt sitting on it. Or we can take that little bit of money and spend it on nappies, or new shoes, or expensive cheese - our choice.

Pretty long process eh? The weirdest part is that at this point nobody really cares about stopping the rest of the cliff falling down which was obviously my main concern. I quizzed the insurance company and they assured me that we will be covered for clean up if the whole cliff falls and buries our house. We will also be covered to pay for damage to (and clean up of) the house at the top of the cliff if it falls on us. But as for stopping it happening in the first place? Not interested.

So back to Shamus, who visited yesterday. He wore gumboots and brought a measuring tape, so I instantly took him more seriously than the others. I forgot to mention that by this stage we had now had at least two more similar sized slips in different positions to the others. Shamus took some more photos. He made the astute observation that we can't really tell how bad it might get without having a look from the top, so after he left he was going to go and meet the peeps up there and have a bit of a look from above. Anyway, he explained a bit more about The Process with regards to stopping the rest of the cliff falling down. If, and that's a big if, he reckons the cliff is going to completely fall down in the next twelve months, then we might get some help with prevention - some sort of retaining structure. Otherwise, we're just going to maybe get a little bit of money to spend on nappies, shoes or expensive cheese...

Obviously if we want to build said retaining structure at our own expense that would be hunky-dorey, but to be honest, we reckon our little house isn't going anyway even if a whole cliff and another house falls on top of it, so I don't think we're going to do that. We might move Boo's kennel from the bottom of the cliff. And our kid may be banned from playing out there...

Anyway, so now I'm waiting for Shamus's report, then the assessor, then the estimator .... then some hopefully we can go cheese shopping.

(The pic at the top is of some sorry looking bulbs that have poked up out of the bog of clay sitting on the lawn following recent rainy events).

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