Living in Christchurch


How my ideas have changed. When we arrived into the Christchurch region, our first priority was to buy a home. We were looking to buy a house possibly our last but one with a river frontage. I was attracted to the beautiful Avon River areas. My wife had similar ideas, so after discussion we both decided if possible to buy a home close to, or even alongside the river. Earth quakes back then, was something that never even entered our minds. If we were going to have one, surely it would be far off, possibly in the Main Divide which geologist fingered as a potential site and over due for a shake. We can now can count ourselves lucky, that we didn’t get that wish. Sections close to the river, or even near the river banks, or even close to the bridges, and there are many. They were all badly effected by the shaking. After the quake the land in the areas mentioned didn’t behave at all well. Lands close to the river were found to be unstable, and tended to slide, or slump towards the centre of the river. The Bridges didn’t behave all well either, access to them in many cases was blocked by physical damage. Most riverside land, opened up, or moved considerably. Of course in doing so, caused serious damage to many of the nearby homes, which up to this point, we thought was a most desirable area.


My other criteria, for the perfect home was to get up high for a view, or even close to the Sea Coast. Both choices were in many cases, depending where you selected, would also have been a big mistake too. Many Homes around the New Brighton Red Cliffs general areas were badly effected by slips, others were in danger from boulders that were in a plentiful supply, and scattered around the hills higher up. These with a nudge from the earth quakes, sent much loose material and boulders from higher up the hill, tumbling down into settled areas. This threat was from material that had been in situ for thousands of years and not considered a threat. This was wrong too as it turned out, some homes that were in the path of material rolling down the hill, which turned out to be extremely lethal. Some of these lumps of loose debris, weighed several tons.



Anywhere else in the world being close to the sea would have commanded a premium, but not so here. For some reason or another most of the Christchurch foreshore is not considered prime building area. There is another phenomena, and that’s liquefaction which can be a real pain in the Butt. Your home can be inundated with half a metre of liquid mud and sand half a metre deep that bubbled up from underground. This is no respecter of where it can strike after a quake, and now some of this land is to be destroyed together with the homes built on it. This liquid mud and sand is just as likely to actually appear inside your home. Unfortunately there was no notice, or any clue or precursor where this could happen, and give you a warning of impending danger. This misery that has been wrought onto many home is unbelievable. Much of this phenomena has been confined to the Eastern areas. So bad in some places, that the Government has now stepped in and writing off whole suburbs, as the land is deemed unsuitable, and hostile to good living. They are now in the process of buying homes, with the express purpose of destroying them because the ground is so unstable, and nothing can be done to rectify the situation on such a scale.


What the earthquake did do and it did well and that was to flag many building materials to be avoided when any future rebuilding takes place. Many of the material that would not be prudent to rebuild again seeing how it failed so badly in the shaking. Roof Tiles were an example that behaved badly in some nearby homes, some lost the lot. Brick veneer, if this is not tied securely to the frame, it will fail. and if it stood up. For certain it would be badly cracked and in many cases it will require complete replacement. Many are reverting again to galvanised iron as a roofing option. It would seem we had forgotten just how practical it was. Stacked stone looks attractive too, but not when it’s scattered around on the ground.


It you are in the market for the construction for your new home it would pay to wander around the suburbs to see how various building materials behaved for yourself.


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