Engineer: failed building techniques still used in Chch
Tue, 11 Sep 2012 6:25p.m.
By Annabelle Tukia
An Auckland engineer claims the New Zealand building and construction industry is in crisis and in need of a radical overhaul.
John Scarry was giving evidence at the Canterbury earthquake's royal commission and claimed failed building techniques are still being used in Christchurch.
Michelle Crouch's beauty business never moved into its replacement building in central Christchurch. The June earthquake last year damaged the new tilt slab building beyond repair.
“It's shattering,” says Ms Crouch. “I walked around in circles for weeks. I didn't even want to start my business again. I just lost all confidence. But now, I'm back into it, ready to rebuild, really excited about it, and hopefully this one will stand up.”
Outside the commission, Mr Scarry says the building didn't have a chance and blamed failed techniques.
“They were supposedly world-leading consented buildings, which were not going to fail in earthquakes,” says Mr Scarry. “There is something fundamentally wrong.”
Mr Scarry has been trying for a decade to raise concerns over what he calls illegal building practices in New Zealand, including the over-bending of structural reinforcing bars.
“Still no one in a position of authority will say, ‘I think there's a major problem here.’ They all just say, ‘Everything's fundamentally okay, we just need a little tweak, another clause in the code.'”
A construction industry representative rejected Mr Scarry's claims.
“The system is not broken,” says Pieter Burghout of the Construction Industry Council.
3 News took Mr Scarry’s claims to the Christchurch Central Development Unit. We were told that they would not be commenting on the issues raised about the construction industry, despite being the Government agency charged to lead the rebuild of Christchurch's CBD.
The commission’s findings will be released in three months’ time.
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