Mayor Feyen’s earthquake report is out, the HDC building does not appear 100% safe & what you should know about the company that designed it

13938395_1841388419424376_5284973250096471863_n.jpg
Horowhenua DC’s Mayor Michael Feyen

Horowhenua Mayor Feyen’s personally funded (to the tune of $25K) independent earthquake report was released yesterday, amidst much discussion on social media and by HDC establishment that the building is still safe! So, okay, it’s just safe enough but only under certain conditions and I look forward to reading the fine print on that. To get you up to speed, this building is only TEN years old, cost $10 million and has cracks in its basement! The new norm by all accounts. This is defending the indefensible. And it was designed by a company that “specialises in earthquake engineering and seismic design”. Now we have an independent report stating the building is rated ‘E’ only and will only achieve a ‘C’ if the Civil Defense are moved along. 

“The report, carried out by Structural Concepts, says if the civil defense headquarters stays put inside the council building, it should be considered earthquake-prone.

…there are “potential structural vulnerabilities”, including concerns about the roof. The report also states that the site on which the building stands consists of “unconsolidated to poorly consolidated mud, sand, gravel and peat”.” Stuff

The building needs remedial work to the tune of $30K. Remember this building is only 10 years old people.

“Mr Clapperton says expected costs of the remedial work, recommended by ISPS Consulting, to lengthen the life of the building have come in. The cost will be in the vicinity of $30,000 and will be covered within the existing maintenance budget.”  

14721468_691508904339771_8696403457869513301_n
One of the cracks in HDC’s new $10 million building … the new norm

Remedial work? On a new building? Why are the designers and the construction company not under investigation? Why are they not being made to stump up with the remedial costs? Oh that’s right it’s the 21st Century when corporations and companies get away with all sorts incurring wee small taps on their wrists with wet bus tickets. Fines payable from their petty cash.

“A Stuff investigation has found 13 near-new buildings have structural weaknesses in Masterton, raising fears of systemic failings in the engineering industry. The design faults, which were not picked up by council, reduced five of the buildings’ seismic strength status to “earthquake prone”. 

Now the owner of two of the buildings is struggling to find anyone accountable for the costly errors.

So HDC’s current stance is basically ‘it’s safe as houses, no worries’. There is more however that they’re not highlighting in the discussions or on their website (including the $68 million debt nobody wants to talk about & they won’t open the books).

Firstly, this design company has recently been under scrutiny in the Wairarapa district:

“A Masterton community-owned trust is suing the engineers responsible for designing two of its buildings that were found not to meet the seismic design standard for new buildings. 

Masterton Trust Lands Trust has begun High Court action to recover the costs of remediating the buildings’ structural faults.

The company that undertook the structural design of the buildings, Kevin O’Connor & Associates, as well as consenting authority  Masterton District Council, and Spencer Holmes Ltd, which was engaged by the council, are all subject to the claim…

Trust general manager Andrew Croskery said costs of remediation work for 61 and 73 Dixon St were significant enough to warrant court action.  

“More work is needed to understand the full extent of these costs. If we decide to include the cost of remediating additional buildings in this claim, these costs could run into millions of dollars.”

“Council has sought advice from its liability insurers in the first instance. As a result of the court proceedings we are not at liberty to respond more fully other than to say that Lands Trust Masterton have kept us fully informed of their position throughout this process to date.”

“We will not be able to comment further until this matter is resolved.”

The trust is considering its options in relation to a further nine of its buildings, all of which were structurally designed by Kevin O’Connor & Associates.

Of these, four buildings have been assessed as not meeting the New Building Standard.

The remaining five buildings are undergoing detailed reviews by independent engineers after initial assessments identified potential structural design issues.

Overall the 11 buildings, built between 2003 and 2016, make up about 20 per cent of the value of the trust’s total property assets, owned on behalf of the Masterton community.

There’s that word again …  ‘remediation’! Read the whole article HERE.

The faulty design work was first discovered in Masterton when private developer Percy McFadzean commissioned a seismic review of a building he constructed in 2005 to be leased to ASB Bank.

The initial report found serious design flaws that made the new building earthquake prone — findings that were backed up by two more detailed reviews conducted by independent structural engineering firms.  SOURCE

Secondly, there are similar rumblings in Palmerston North.

“Investigations into the safety of building plans are underway after weaknesses were found in Masterton buildings designed by a Palmerston North firm. The Palmerston North City Council will ask independent experts to review a sample of engineering plans for city buildings by Kevin O’Connor and Associates.”   

Read the article HERE.

So while HDC appear to remain staunch supporters of the said company/ies and continue to maintain the building is safe (they’re filling up the cracks with epoxy resin folks) and a certain disgruntled section of the public are still trying hard to be rid of this Mayor who is a fly in their proverbial ointment … please do consider the obvious here. Would you really employ a company to design anything of yours with so many strikes against its name? Seriously?

So to recap, the $10 million HDC building was built to also accommodate Civil Defense emergencies, but hey, no worries we’ll just relocate them somewhere else! Christchurch ran their emergency earthquake operation out of the library, so what’s the problem? And speaking of Christchurch, remember the CTV building?

“The “six-story office building that collapsed and killed 115 people in New Zealand’s devastating earthquake … was poorly designed by an inexperienced engineer, inadequately constructed and should never have been issued a building permit, a government report has found.”

The report found several deficiencies in the CTV building’s engineering design and said the city council should never have issued the building a permit because the design did not comply with the standards at the time. The commission also concluded that there were problems with the building’s construction.”

“…the building had been issued a “green sticker” following a magnitude-7.0 earthquake in September 2010, signalling authorities had given it the thumbs-up for people to continue using it.

An investigation by The Associated Press last year found that inspection checks routinely used across the world to verify the safety of buildings following earthquakes fail to account for how well those buildings will withstand future quakes. The AP found that building occupants and public officials in Christchurch did not understand that a “green sticker” doesn’t mean the building has undergone a thorough analysis of its structural health, nor that it would stay intact during future quakes.”

Read the article HERE.

You could be forgiven for thinking our building industry and the standards it abides by is being run by cowboys. Seriously. Have they really learned anything here? This company “specialises in earthquake engineering and seismic design” amongst other things. Time for a serious overhaul and back to basics surely?

Watch this space and keep an eye on HDC’s FB page and this ongoing discussion. There are questions being asked there about the previous reports that need to be answered.

For more information on happenings in the Horowhenua district check out our Local Govt Watch pages at the main menu and search ‘categories’ as well.

EnvirowatchHorowhenua

 

RELATED LINKS:

Opportunist builders, dodgy steel and shonky standards create new building crisis ‘worse than leaky homes’

Falling through the cracks: experts warn of a wave of new buildings failing earthquake standards

 Resolved: Horowhenua council building is safe and Wayne Bishop is deputy mayor

Horowhenua mayor says he will fund report about building’s safety himself

Horowhenua mayor refuses to enter council building, claiming it unsafe

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Mayor Feyen’s earthquake report is out, the HDC building does not appear 100% safe & what you should know about the company that designed it”

Your comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s