Fletcher EQR and the Canterbury Home Repair Programme

Overview
History
 

Overview

Fletcher EQR was established in October 2010 as a business unit of Fletcher Construction to manage home repairs on behalf of the Earthquake Commission (EQC). This work was carried out under the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP), focusing on homes where the damage was assessed between $15,000 and $100,000 per claim.

Fletcher EQR’s role as project manager was to co-ordinate the resources involved in carrying out the repairs – primarily, a force of contractors, sub-contractors and tradespeople drawn mainly from the Canterbury market. Approximately 1,200 main contracting firms have been accredited over the life of the programme.

Fletcher EQR and EQC committed substantial resources to improving the safety performance of the residential construction and repair sector targeting long-term behavioural changes through measures such as mandatory safety inductions, worksite audits and the rollout of a programme focused on six key potentially fatal risks – safe6 – which began in early 2013.

Fletcher EQR’s other project management roles, included:

A range of project management roles is involved in our work, including:

  • Liaison with homeowners and other parties affected by the repairs

  • Contractor accreditation, management and payment

  • Legal and Building Code compliance

  • Quality Assurance

History

Establishment:

Fletcher EQR operated from a central office in Riccarton tasked with building an organisation to manage the repairs once claims had been processed by EQC. Key work streams included the recruitment of project management staff and contractors, and the establishment of hubs to house the repair teams.

The first hub was located in Halswell, and the first repair began in November 2010.

Emergency:

When several major aftershocks struck Christchurch in February 2011 an already challenging project became even more so as the number of homes needing repair, and the extent of the damage sustained, rose substantially.

Over the subsequent months resources were directed mainly at carrying out emergency repairs required to ensure that homes were safe, sanitary, secure and weathertight. More than 40,000 emergency repairs were carried out over the period.

Winter heat:

Fletcher EQR took responsibility for ensuring that any household with an EQC claim that had lost its main heat source through earthquake damage could have it repaired or replaced in time for winter. Priority was given to homes with occupants who were sick or elderly, or with children.

The Clean Heat succeeded through co-operation by several parties – in particular EQC, the manufacturers and installers of heat pumps and solid fuel burners, government departments and charitable organisations.

Fletcher EQR had installed 7,000 heat pumps and 2,600 solid fuel burners by mid-winter 2011, ensuring those householders identified as most in need had been assisted by that time.

Expansion:

By early 2012, with seismic activity abating, and a hub network fully established and staff and contractor resources in place, attention returned to maximising the completion rate for full-scope repairs.

The rate increased to around 2,000 homes per month – 100 per working day. In financial terms, this amounted to $60 million or more per month returned to the local economy through contractors.

By this stage the company had 21 hubs – 20 for ‘business as usual’ and a Priority hub dealing with urgent repairs and customers designated as vulnerable. Later in 2012, a Technical hub was established to manage the growing demand for engineering and other professional resources, which were critical to the programme but also in high demand throughout the city.

$1bn paid to contractors:

In January 2013 CHRP passed the $1 billion dollar mark in payments, along with the milestone of 30,000 completed full-scope repairs. Six months later, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced that the 40,000th home had been repaired. With about 1800 full home repairs being completed each month, the programme was in full swing.

Later that year EQC and Fletcher EQR restructured CHRP operations into fewer, larger hubs to enhance workflow management, communication and consistency.  They shifted the hub ‘footprint’ substantially, from 18 plus the two specialist teams to five larger hubs, with several smaller teams designated as satellites or site offices. A sixth large hub was set up in early 2014.

New Customer Centres were established at the larger hubs to provide customers with access to Fletcher EQR and EQC staff working together to help them with their queries.

50,000 full-scope repairs:

In January 2014 Minister Brownlee announced the achievement of the 50,000th repair, noting that the programme had maintained confidence in Canterbury’s housing stock, while managing wage and materials inflation and supporting confidence in the region. The Minister also noted the 48,000 emergency repairs and 19,000 heating repairs carried out alongside the full-scope completions.

Entering the final stages

From early 2014 the company engaged in a series of changes and innovations to overcome the challenges presented by the final phase of the programme – among the latter:

An increasing workload of large, complex repairs involving foundation and/or structural work
The need to maintain staff and contractor resources despite increasing competition for their services as the rebuild accelerated throughout the city
In general, a need for adaptation in structure and process to maintain momentum

60,000 full-scope repairs:

In September 2014 Minister Brownlee welcomed two significant milestones – the 60,000th full-scope repair, leaving just under 10,000 to go, and the 2 billionth dollar (excluding GST) paid to contractors since the start of the programme.

The Minister said these achievements illustrated the scale of the programme, which had made it easily the largest employer of residential construction skills and resources in New Zealand’s history,  “In total, the programme has now completed over 138,000 repairs, 60,000 full-scope repairs, 59,000 emergency repairs and 19,000 heating repairs or installations,” Mr Brownlee said. “The numbers tell their own story about the challenge accepted by EQC and Fletcher almost four years ago.”

In May 2015 with 98% of repairs complete the hub footprint was changed to reflect the progress made in the programme.   Project management teams relocated to a new larger hub in central Christchurch.  In December 2016 Fletcher EQR reshaped its teams again with its major purpose almost met – 68,500 full-scope repairs had been completed.

At the same time, EQC announced that from mid-December it would be the main point of contact for all customer enquiries relating to CHRP repairs.