Fletcher on recruiting drive after winning quake tender

6:36 pm on 15 October 2010

Fletcher Construction says it expects immediately to employ up to 400 people to manage the Canterbury rebuilding project.

The Earthquake Commission announced on Friday that Fletcher Construction had been selected after an international tender to manage repairs to 50,00 quake-hit homes - a contract worth about $1 billion.

The firm will handle every step of organising the repairs on residential houses with damage costing between $10,000 and $100,000.

Fletcher Construction's infrastructure chief executive, Mark Binns, says the company will be recruiting three to four hundred people straightaway.

The company says the $1 billion project is the biggest in its history.

Mr Binns says the company is delighted the commission has entrusted it with the job. He says Fletchers prides itself on having been involved in many New Zealand projects and this one will be right up there.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says centralised management will help reduce the risk of "cowboy builders" charging inflated prices.

Work on establishing systems and setting priorities for the rebuilding programme is expected to start in a week.

The Earthquake Commission's research manager, Hugh Cowan, says there were five bids made but the choice was clear. Mr Cowan says Fletchers' approach will mean the public will have regular contact with project managers and builders.

Mr Cowan says Fletchers' focus on a hands-on management approach, from central office to community-based hub sites on the street, made it a standout.

The commission says it expects Fletchers will need to subcontract about 3,000 tradespeople to do the repair work.

The magnitude-7.1 quake occurred on 4 September.

Geotechnical report

Residents with earthquake-damaged land will learn the contents of a geotechnical report on their properties next week.

Mr Brownlee spent Friday briefing local councils on the report.

About 1200 properties have moderate to severe land damage.

Mr Brownlee says owners will be contacted to let them know what's in the report.

Mr Brownlee says there are probably fewer than 20 properties where the damage is so severe that it may be uneconomic to rebuild.

The first part of the report will be released at the end of next week.

Claims tally

Meanwhile, the Earthquake Commission has clocked up its 97,000th claim for earthquake damage.

Finance and Infrastructure Minister Bill English says the figure is at least five times more than the number of claims the Commission has had to deal with in the past, and it has boosted its staff from 33 to 600 to cope.

Mr English says the earthquake was perfect timing for the struggling construction industry as other big South Island projects reach completion.