Release 1 February 2014
Adrian Cowie, Registered Professional Surveyor
Southern Response confirm that Jack and Pack, Notching the Bearers and Easing Doors and Windows does not conform to their policy wording.
The press release on the Southern Response website published 22 January 2014 and titled “Current “As New” Definition” gives some much needed clarity to the issues of “Jack and Pack”, “Notching the Bearers”, and Easing Doors and Windows.
The original release can be found at: http://www.southernresponse.co.nz/news/current-as-new-definition/
In short, Southern Response are conceding that these procedures do not conform with the policy wording, and do not conform to the ‘As New’ standard. If they are true to their word (which they must be, aka, ‘Utmost Good Faith’) then they will stop these ‘repair’ methods immediately.
Some key comments from their press release are as follows:
- “The starting point is that the rebuilt house or repaired item needs to be equivalent when compared to the original.”
- “Where items have a structural function it is their structural performance which is the consideration.”
- “For repairs the focus is on the item that has been damaged and is being repaired.”
Jack and Pack
As almost everyone in Christchurch knows, the Jack and Pack method involves jacking the floor bearers up to allow the insertion of packing on top of the foundation piles in order to bring the floor back to level.
But, the fact that the pile has settled (i.e. gone down) means that according to Southern Responses very own words, that they will focus on the damaged pile (not on stuffing things above it to hide the damage).
It is the pile that has been damaged. It is the pile that has sunk. Therefore, it is the pile that needs to be brought back to “As New”. Placing packing between the pile and the floor is merely masking and hiding the damage. It is not repairing the damage.
Additionally, the pile has a structural function (to support the floor). With the pile having sunk, the piles structural function must certainly have been compromised.
So, according to Southern Responses very own words – all of their customers will now see the end of “Jack and Pack”.
Notching the Bearers
Who-ever thought of this one?
This method of “repair” involves lowering the floor level where it is higher, by simply cutting out a section of the bearer (the big thick flat piece of timber between the piles and floor) which is above the pile, so that it now sits lower on the pile, and in turn, lowers the floor back to a more or less level state.
This involves damaging the bearer by cutting into it (presumably a structural element that most likely is not damaged), thereby reducing the thickness which must, by anyone’s calculation, reduce the strength of the bearer.
This certainly doesn’t make it “equivalent when compared to the original”. I think ‘equivalent” means something along the lines of “equal in value, amount, function…”. Clearly, Notching the Bearers doesn’t come close to ‘equivalent’. Or did my maths teacher at school not quite understand mathematical terminology?
The correct repair should be to find the actual damaged element (e.g. the perimeter concrete foundation, or close by piles that have sunk) and fix them. This may require lifting the perimeter concrete foundation back to it’s original height.
Again, Southern Response have stated clearly that their focus will be on the damaged element (e.g. the concrete perimeter foundation that has sunk) rather than the bearer which is most likely un-damaged.
Easing Doors and Windows
In many of the homes in Canterbury, walls are racked and twisted, which has a direct impact on how doors and windows operate.
A favourite “repair” for internal doors where they no long close, or are jammed shut, is to simply start planing the door to the point where it will now open again.
But again, it isn’t the door which has turned into a parallelogram, it is the door-frame and walls. So it must be the door-frame and walls that are repaired, not the door. Why turn a perfectly rectangular door into some sort of unusual mathematical shape to fit into a damaged wall?
Again, Southern Response have clarified this by stating that they will focus on the item that has been damaged (i.e. the rack and twisted walls) rather than damaging the doors and windows so that they fit the damaged walls.
Oh, and by the way, taking off the gib to pack out the framing until it is vertical again, and rehanging the door without actually fixing the framing is not a repair either – this is just hiding the masking the damage again. If the wall is racked and twisted, the wall (including framing) needs to be put back to an “As New” condition.
This is the result that many have eagerly been waiting for, an admission from Southern Response that the “As New” policy demands that the actual damaged elements are repaired or replaced as per the policy wording, and that the actual damage is not hidden by creating more damage, or by masking the earthquake damage.
“Jack and Pack” is not a repair – it is hiding and masking the damage to the actual pile.
“Notching the Bearer” is damaging and reducing the strength of the bearer. This is certainly not a repair, but creating more damage.
“Easing Doors and Windows” is again, hiding and masking the actual damage in the walls and framing. It is the walls and framing that need repair, not the actual door.
Thank you Southern Response. Your clarification is appreciated.
Registered Professional Surveyor
1st February 2014
disclaimer: as always, consult with your professionals and legal advisors as to how this applies to your individual insurance claim.