I wanted to share my story from someone not in Christchurch but who deals a lot with Cantabrians facing their housing woes after the quakes and floods to give another perspective.
My national business which is head quartered in Central Otago supplies insulated vinyl weatherboards all over New Zealand. We've had a huge spike in business and enquiries from frustrated people in Christchurch and surrounds - I guess they may be the "lucky" ones who have had some resolution to their housing woes as they're calling me to enquire about or buy our cladding so usually they're at a point where they're ready or almost ready to go about rebuilding or recladding their property.
A major frustration for these people is that they tell me they're going along to their chosen home build company or builder and are not being offered any alternatives - they don't want to use brick for safety reasons and they don't want fibre cement board either so where are the alternatives? The Department of Building and Housing has actively been promoting the use of lighter cladding types so it's a major frustration for all concerned that people in the industry seem to be resistant to offering alternatives to their customers - the only loser is the customer in the end.
We have a house in Christchurch that has had our cladding on it for over 30 years and this home has withstood all of the quakes because of the flexibility that the cladding has. It doesn't fall off and cause harm like bricks do and it has flexibility and room to move so will move with a building.
What ends up happening is that the customer goes ahead and does the hard yards researching on the internet and ultimately finds us - they then go to their home build company and insist upon using our product afterwhich the home build company is forced to contact us and use what the customer wants. It's a sad state of affairs.
My reason for sharing this story is that this is not a problem unique to my business, my industry - it's a New Zealand wide problem and a real shame that when people need help the most, as in the case of Christchurch they're not recieving the information they're entitled to know and these people who are already short on patience, time and resources are forced to go out and find products they want on their own steam when companies should be forward thinking and proactive so as to solve the problem for them.
I am always happy to talk to people about other great products out there and better ways to build - I personally have done years of research and have used energy efficient, low maintenance products for years so am happy to share that knowledge if it helps just one other person get through what has been a very tough few years in Christchurch.