Engineers Without Borders formed a project team of highly qualified Christchurch engineers, including two geotechnical engineers and one cost estimator, who have been donating their time to assist Habitat for Humanity be assisting them with the post-quake repair of a severely damaged Habitat home in Aranui.
The house came off its foundations in the February 2011 quake. Since then it has been both an overhead cost that Habitat could ill-afford and a waste of resource that could otherwise be used to house a family in need. To speed up the process Habitat approached the insurance company regarding a cash settlement, instead of waiting for the insurance company to do the work themselves. However upon entering into this process, Habitat realised that they would require technical expertise to assess the cost of repairing or rebuilding the house.
“EWB's work meant that we were well-informed to go into negotiations with the insurance company over the cost of rebuilding the affected house. With a range of options for foundation remediation and a range of associated costs, we were well-prepared for the process of considering the insurance company's assessment of repair versus rebuild and the associated costs. Assuming an insurance cash settlement is achieved, the EWB work will assist us in deciding the most economic option out of repair, rebuild or sale of the property.”
It was at this stage that EWB approached Peter from Habitat for Humanity after recognising that the potential to assist in engineering relief work was not limited to overseas projects, but that there is plenty that can be done to help out in Christchurch at the moment. EWB met with Peter Taylor, the General Manager for Habitat for Humanity in Christchurch, and determined what assistance they could provide. Pater said that employing engineering expertise was going to be very expensive, and if EWB had not approached them, they would have been forced to rely on the insurance company's assessment of the cost of repairing the property, which would have exposed them to considerable financial risk in their decision-making. EWB tracked down three volunteers to make up the project team: Neil Charters; Rudy Verbeek; and Mark Broughton, who generously offered to assist Habitat in their spare time after finishing their busy day jobs.
Peter advises that they’ve recently received funding to build the next batch of Habitat homes so we can expect to have many more houses to help out with in the coming year.