JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
WAITING: Opawa woman Lyn Godsell has been told there may be no foundation solution for her technical category 3 home, background, because it is within 100m of the Heathcote River.
Christchurch residents who live near the Heathcote River face a potentially indefinite wait for their homes to be rebuilt.
At least two Opawa households have been told by Southern Response-contracted engineers there were currently no foundations deemed suitable to allow homes to be rebuilt on their technical category 3 land.
Ensors Rd resident Lyn Godsell said she received an email last week from an Arrow International project manager telling her that the foundation solutions recommended by the Building and Housing Department would not be suitable for her land.
It said she was in a "lateral spread susceptibility zone" because she lived within 100 metres of the Heathcote River.
The email said the DBH guidelines for rebuilding and repairing the foundations in the TC3 zone, released in April, had only two solutions to accommodate lateral spread.
"Our engineers are not happy with these designs and [are] therefore not recommending them," it said.
Arrow is carrying out the engineering work for Southern Response, which is Government-owned.
The engineer who wrote the email declined to speak to The Press yesterday, other than to say: "I admit I wrote the email".
Godsell, whose home has been deemed a rebuild, said she contacted her insurance case manager and was told they did not know how long it would take to find an alternative solution - even though she is happy with a lightweight home.
"We've been put to the absolute bottom of the pile."
Her neighbours, retirees David and Aileen Davies, were in the same situation.
They had been told a geotechnical report found both of their properties in the area were susceptible to more land damage than the foundations recommended by the DBH could meet.
Davies, a former builder, said he phoned Southern Response and was told "nothing is going to happen" until another foundation solution "came up".
He contacted the DBH and was told it would not add any more foundation guidelines unless engineers submitted new solutions.
The Earthquake Commission would not provide specific numbers, but its geotechnical engineers Tonkin and Taylor estimated less than a thousand TC3 properties near rivers were susceptible to lateral spread.
Southern Response chief executive Peter Rose said last night its engineers were investigating alternative solutions "that might add to our options for this type of land".
However the two DBH foundations remained as "possible solutions", he said.
"We now need to go back to the customer and continue the conversation about what can be achieved on their particular site. We will also follow up with any other customers who might have received the same message."
The "lateral spread susceptibility zone" simply reflected a land observation that DBH had made within the TC3 area. It was not a sub-zone.
DBH Canterbury recovery director David Kelly said the department stood by its foundation guidance and had not been made aware of any rejection by Arrow.
There could be "a few cases" where it may be uneconomic to repair or replace damaged foundations to suit the existing design.
Insurer IAG said it had not rejected any DBH foundation recommendations. However it would "treat each case on an individual basis" to design foundations that were "appropriate to the individual home".
A Cera spokeswoman said there were no grounds to review land zoning based on site-specific land damage assessments. Mayor Bob Parker said the stalemate was "very disturbing news". " . . .It must be cleared up as a matter of utmost urgency."