Case Study: Jenni and Noel

Stuck in a rebuild deadlock, a Sydenham couple says a multi-party meeting initiated by the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) was a massive turning point.

Jenni and Noel’s home sustained earthquake damage that put them over cap. In mid- 2013, the property went from a repair to a rebuild. The couple approached RAS in early 2014 with doubts over the amount allocated by their insurer for the rebuild.

"Discussions about the cost of the rebuild went backwards and forwards between the builder and insurer. We felt completely in the dark. We weren’t included in those discussions but felt stuck in the middle and didn’t know what to believe," says Jenni.

"We met the RAS Independent Advisor and received really good advice on what was reasonable to expect and what we should do."

The Independent Advisor endorsed Jenni and Noel’s idea of employing a professional quantity surveyor. "This was a great step forward – getting independent advice."

Jenni and Noel were about to sign off detailed building plans when the March 2014 floods hit. Water was over half a metre high in their garage - they lost a car – and it meant a rethink of the plan. A new plan was developed within four weeks as required by their insurer, and approved, but then new issues emerged with their builder.

"It took hours to go through the detail. We felt the design and specs had been ‘dumbed down’ to fit the budget. Much of the external work such as paths and paving had been omitted, ceramic tiles in the bathroom became lino, concrete steps become wooden steps and fittings were inferior," says Jenni.

Because of the eventual relationship breakdown with the builder, the Independent Advisor organised a multi-party meeting late last year. The meeting included an independent facilitator, Jenni and Noel, their quantity surveyor and earthquake support coordinator, the Independent Advisor and both a new case manager and loss adjustor from the insurer.

Jenni says, "The facilitator created a relaxed environment and we felt hugely supported. Lots of goodwill was generated to move our case on. It was a huge relief after more than a year of hard work and feeling constantly highly stressed.

“We don’t have an agreement or final figures yet but great movement forward. It feels as though we are 90 per cent of the way there."