DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
BURNING ISSUE: Marlon and Kay Besuyen love their two-year-old logburner and are upset Environment Canterbury rules have become a sticking point if their house has to be rebuilt.
A Christchurch family are desperate to retain their logburner if their earthquake-damaged house has to be rebuilt.
The Avondale home of Kay and Marlon Besuyen was badly damaged in the February 2011 quake.
The couple and their 14-year-old twins rented a cold, damp house in Woodend and are unsure whether their home will be repaired or rebuilt.
Kay Besuyen said the home had been set to be demolished but, two days before the demolition tender was due to go out, earthquake authorities decided to carry out another assessment.
Adding to the stress were concerns over not being allowed to keep their logburner if the house was rebuilt.
The logburner was installed only two years ago to replace an older burner.
Under Environment Canterbury's (ECan) air-quality rules, logburners cannot be installed in new houses.
ECan's announcement last week that new technology could see ultra-low-emission woodburners in Christchurch homes within the next few years has not reassured the Besuyens.
"I don't want to be waiting several years to rebuild.
"It's not our fault an earthquake damaged the house," Marlon Besuyen said.
"I would say ECan would see this earthquake as a blessing in disguise for them to meet their targets."
Kay Besuyen said she thought ECan's strict burner policy would end up making people sicker and cause them to struggle financially.
The couple managed to pay off the mortgage on their house two years ago, but had run out of their insurance accommodation supplement.
Marlon Besuyen was made redundant from his job at Fonterra yesterday.
The family used to be able get much of their wood free, but power bills for their Woodend house, which did not have a logburner, had increased dramatically, he said.
The family were always cold, despite using heaters, and on cold days ice formed inside the windows.
"We love the fire and it's a backup in case of snow," he said.
"It's always been a high priority, along with a dishwasher."
Another Christchurch resident, Melanie Hendren, said her damaged home had an approved logburner and she was worried about having to rely on a heat pump after rebuilding.
During last week's snowfall, she was able to get "the warm end of the house" to only 14.1 degrees Celsius.
She and her young daughter had suffered colds lasting for weeks.
"ECan has thankfully changed their stance on logburners.
"However, I still believe they need to make an exception and speed things up for both earthquake rebuilds and the red-zone residents that also want their logburners back, otherwise it is going to be too late for us," Hendren said.
Wendy Gilchrist, who wrote an open letter to ECan on the issue last week, said it was "heartening" to hear that ECan was reviewing its air-plan rules, but it should allow quake-hit homeowners to reinstate their logburners in the meantime.