28 Aug 2014

EQC engineer at odds with 41 reports

8:08 pm on 28 August 2014

A homeowner giving evidence against an Earthquake Commission engineer says her house was deemed to be safe when it was not.

Graeme Robinson is appearing before a Chartered Professional Engineers disciplinary hearing in Christchurch for complaints about his professional conduct, and his assessments of earthquake damage to 11 properties.

Christchurch's Crowne Plaza hotel was among many buildings demolished following the Feb 2011 quake.

Christchurch's Crowne Plaza hotel was among many buildings demolished following the Feb 2011 quake. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Michelle Parkes says Mr Robinson signed off her hillside Lyttelton home as safe, which conflicts with 41 other professional reports she has had on the property.

Ms Parkes says she was told by another engineer that in the event of another major earthquake there is a possibility the house will slip down the hill. She says the land is constantly moving.

In other evidence, a couple says Mr Robinson told them if they wanted better repairs, they should have bought a better home.

Mark and Hannah Carey have claimed that Mr Robinson threatened to rule damage to their home existed before the Canterbury earthquakes, and the repairs would not be covered by the EQC.

The couple said today that this was not the case, and three earlier site inspections found the damage was caused by the quakes.

Mrs Carey said Mr Robinson told her she should have bought a better home in the first place.

"When we pointed out that the EQC Act provides that we're entitled to have a house put back to its as-new condition, he said, 'Well, if you want an as-new house, then you should have bought a house that was in better nick than what you've got here, or a better kind of house.'"

A witness for Mr Robinson and assessor for EQC, Ray Harpur, said he was always direct in giving advice, but never unprofessional.

Mr Harpur said it was unfortunate that the advice Mr Robinson needed to give was not always what the customer wanted to hear.

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