Dodgy Subdivisions.

September 6, 2010

Devastated couple in Seabreeze Close.

Big Quake hits Christchurch early Saturday morning September 4th.
This follow the financial quake earlier in the week when South Canterbury Finance was placed in receivership when old Mr Hubbard found his cupboard bare.
Among all the carnage unleashed in Christchurch is the story about Seabreeze Close, a three year old subdivision built on a swamp.

Quote from the Media story:
“Some of the surrounding area is hardly damaged, but as soon as you turn into Seabreeze Close, there is a scene of devastation.
Residents think it is because the land had been a swamp, sucked dry and filled with dirt for the subdivision.”
They say the development should never have been built.”

All houses are what I refer to as “brick and tile toilets”, the favoured modern building style in ‘affordable’ medium to high density housing estates.
These homes are usually low profile concrete pad floored, timber frame construction.
They are ok unless surface flood occurs, as the floors are only 150mm (6″) above ground level there is the inevitable flood through the house.
Reasons for low height floors range from day light shadow restrictions on neighbouring properties, or simple economy to save building a low block course nib wall with packed fill to raise the floor above surface flooding.
You combine this economy feature of these “brick and tile toilets” with swamp subdivision and you have a ticking time bomb.

This is just another modern building industry fuck up!
By industry I include Local Government, because they:
1/ gave consent to subdivide swamp land.
2/ gave consent to construct low profile concrete pads.

Who in their right mind would allow this type of construction in former swamps or areas with high water tables?
As an DIY builder I would never build a pad floor house unless I was at the top of any land formation.

Best advice I can give people looking at new subdivisions, find old pictures of the area to get an idea, check council records for original land information.
The best visual indicator of high water table are bull rushes growing amongst the grass.
Forget all the subdividers hype, they’d sell their mothers given the chance.

We rented a house in Manurewa’s Alfriston Rd, the subdivision was on a hill, the original housing was built on Hill road,a sensible location up on the ridge.
Everything down hill is subject to surface water flowing when it rains, I could observe a ‘sheet’ of surface water entering the property every time.
Not inspiring of confidence when the house floor in only about 100mm above that.