Since 2011 the directors of ABI Piers have managed commercial and residential earthquake repairs and rebuilds throughout Christchurch. With more than 40 years’ experience in construction, Chris and Nigel Colenso saw that large commercial buildings had expensive base isolation systems to protect them from earthquake damage, but there was no cost-effective system to protect smaller buildings.
To fill that gap in the market, they developed three versions of the ABI Piers foundation system to suit most locations. During severe earthquakes, the ABI Piers foundation system protects buildings, occupants and contents, preventing the full force of the quake affecting the house. The support springs flex and re-centre the building while soaking up seismic energy.
Theunis Klok, an Engineering Technologist at Callaghan Innovation, is having the system installed under his home. “I first heard about the ABI Piers system at my workplace when Chris came to show us the technology,” Theunis says.
“It appealed to me because I never want to go through the stress, financial hardship and unnecessary cost [of an earthquake] ever again. ABI Piers will permanently repair the earthquake damaged foundation of my house and ‘future proof’ my biggest investment.
“I believe the ABI Piers system is better than alternative foundations currently on the market and the cost compares really well.”
The system has been tested by BRANZ as compliant with the New Zealand Building Code. If post-earthquake relevelling of the home is required, the piers are easily relevelled and height adjusted back to as new position. Visit www.abipiers.com.
When Linda Horan and Jim Mitchell moved to their new home in Woolston in 2004, they intended to stay there for life. It was shiny and new, and closer to work and family.
Like so many however, they experienced significant disruption in the earthquakes and thus began a long process to find resolution. They considered several options but wanted to stay in Woolston. The house had sunk 100mm and suffered serious cracks in the foundation slab. They had plans drawn up for a rebuild.
Then they contacted Precision Solutions, a foundation and floor relevelling specialist which had done some work for Linda’s niece, who had been thoroughly impressed. Precision Solutions put together a plan to repair Jim and Linda’s house, simpler, less expensive and quicker than the proposed rebuild. The plan was to lift the house back to where it should be. Simple.
“Fundamentally,” says Precision Solutions Contract Manager, Charles Porter, “It’s quite a simple process. Physically however, it’s a bit more complicated.”
The whole lifting and relevelling process took three weeks. Most of the time was spent in preparation, clearing the house, digging underpinning holes and pouring lifting pads. The house was then lifted and levelled, millimetres at a time.
After some other renovations, Jim and Linda were back in their home after only 12 weeks. “We’re so happy with it,” Linda says. “Precision’s people were very thorough. They worked every day. They were never late and, what they said they’d do, they did. Sometimes they stayed late to finish what they were doing. We were very impressed with their attitude, and their price was $18,000 cheaper than another reputable competitor.”
Geotechnical engineering is a highly specialised form of engineering that deals with foundation design for buildings. If the engineer gets it wrong, remediation can be very expensive.
In California, insurance companies sick of paying out on claims covering negligence of incompetent engineers started a special licensing regime to ensure only qualified geotechnical engineers undertake geotechnical work.
In New Zealand there is currently no robust system in place to ensure only qualified chartered professional (geotechnical) engineers are providing geotechnical advice for building developments.
“When seeking geotechnical consultancy services, you should satisfy yourself that the engineer is appropriately qualified and experienced,” says Mason Reed of Fraser Thomas Limited.
“The Chartered Engineer register on the Engineering NZ website can confirm whether an engineer is Chartered and in which field (ie. structural, fire, civil). If you take advice on geotechnical matters from an engineer who is not a chartered professional (geotechnical) engineer, you do so at your own risk.”
Fraser Thomas has been providing expert geotechnical consultancy services for 50 years. “We have a sound understanding of geomechanics and provide foundation solutions which are best suited for the site conditions, which can sometimes result in significant cost savings for our clients in foundation construction costs.”
Fraser Thomas has a long history in identifying and mitigating the effects of a variety of geotechnical hazards ranging from residential and commercial to large infrastructure projects, such as landfills. “We have particular experience in slope stability assessments, including cliff lines/coastal erosion affects, foundation design on soft highly compressible soils, piled foundation design and the provision of foundation solutions for sites on liquefiable soils.”
In a shaky land, it is vital work.