Assessment recommended for building that later collapsed

6:47 pm on 23 January 2012

A contractor who worked on a heritage building that collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake - killing four people - has told a hearing a cordon should have been in place after the September 2010 quake.

The Royal Commission into the Canterbury Earthquakes has been hearing evidence about the Ruben Blades Hairdressing Academy on the corner of Lichfield and Manchester streets.

Kelsey Moore was carrying her baby Taneysha Prattley up Manchester Street when they were crushed by falling rubble from the building on 22 February.

Owen McKenna and Lisa Willems died in their cars at the intersection of the two streets.

Contractoer Glen McConnell told the Commission he was concerned about an internal fracture that ran the full length of the top floor at the southeast corner of the building and that could cause a wall to collapse outwards.

He said there was also worrying damage to a corbel stone and parapet and he believed a cordon should have been erected along the whole Manchester Street facade.

Mr McConnell said he raised his concerns with an engineer, Sean Gardiner, who reinspected the building.

But he says Mr Gardiner said the facade had survived a large earthquake and aftershock without significant deterioration and the damage didn't warrant a full cordon.

Earlier in Monday's hearing, the Royal Commission heard that, after the first quake on 4 September, engineers recommended to the building's owner, Eelco Wiersma, that a detailed strengthening assessment be done.

But the engineers were not instructed to do the work.

Mr Wiersma said he was waiting for instructions from the council about how to proceed.