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Surveying residential damage: Fraser Thomas

Fraser Thomas’ areas of engineering expertise are many and varied. One particularly close to some homeowners following the Canterbury earthquakes is the company’s work surveying damage to residential buildings.



“An unfortunate consequence of the earthquakes is that there have been a number of disagreements between homeowners and insurance companies about the causes and severity of damage to homes,” says David Mawhinney, Senior Surveyor with Fraser Thomas.

“In order to reach resolution on those disagreements, it is often necessary to have independent experts provide evidence about the elements of a building that may have sustained damage. As surveyors, we are trained to take measurements of appropriate accuracy and present the data collected in a user-friendly format for others to understand and interpret.”

Building elements often measured include:
• Land movement
• Verticality of walls, window sills, door frames and piles
• Levels of floors, ceilings and foundation bearers

“We are contracted by either of the parties in a dispute. There are always different methods of measuring building elements ranging from GNSS to lasers to tape measures amongst others. The most accurate, reliable and efficient methods must be chosen and can sometimes be quite time consuming. The outcome of the survey is of great value to the homeowner so it is important to get it right.”

For the Fraser Thomas team these surveys are extremely interesting. “They are unique – a kind of detective work – and it is professionally satisfying if we can contribute to fair and reasonable resolution of disputes.”



Fraser Thomas

On the Move: Fraser Thomas

Next year marks 50 years in business for Fraser Thomas. And at the end of November, the burgeoning Christchurch branch of specialist engineers and surveyors will celebrate with clients, the move to larger remises at Workstation 55 Business Park in Princess Street.


Fraser Thomas


Staff numbers have grown substantially, as have the city’s continuous need for specialist services, such as geotechnical, land surveying, resource management, soil contamination testing, civil engineering, slope stability assessments, and land surveying. Included in the company’s skill set is expertise in mediation and insurance court cases for clients, and 14 chartered engineers are part of the company’s approachable, friendly team.

Fraser Thomas, with its head office based in Highbrook, Auckland and set up in Christchurch in 2012, provides a multi-disciplined, ‘one-stop shop’ for land development projects. Christchurch’s Director and Geotechnical Manager, Mason Reed, is also a Practice Area Assessor for Engineering New Zealand.
His principles include keeping the industry honest. Hailing from Whangarei, and one of the eight directors, Mason has 20 years’ experience in the company, including the Pacific Islands and South East Asia.

He says it’s wise to assess potential geotechnical issues, before any building work, to mitigate future issues. Around 80 percent of work is residential, with commercial projects including the Waterloo Business Park. Ngāi Tahu’s Te Whariki subdivision development in Lincoln, a substantial project in several stages, is underway, utilising all the skillsets of the Fraser Thomas team. “Ngāi Tahu is committed to providing a quality product to their purchasers,” Mason says. “And we have the skills and experience to deliver for our client.”