31 March, 2016
Two Christchurch homeowners are thrilled to have their heritage properties rebuilt and returned to them after they were destroyed in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.
The two properties were heritage homes on Chester Street East, a special amenity area of Christchurch.
“The new houses are a modern interpretation of what used to be there,” said homeowner Mark Seymour. “They’re very sympathetic to the historic character of the homes, and to the other historic houses that remain on the street.”
The Vero Insurance team worked together with the owners, architects, builders and the Christchurch City Council to ensure that the houses would reflect the character of Chester Street.
“The council requirement was that we shouldn’t seek to imitate what was there before – which would have been difficult to do anyway,” said homeowner Alister James. “The new build needed to complement the surrounding heritage environment, and that’s what we’ve done.”
The two homes were demolished by Civil Defence after the February 2011 earthquake because they were too dangerous to leave standing.
“Because the homes shared walls, it made the process a lot easier that Vero insured both of them,” said Jimmy Higgins, Executive General Manager of Claims at Vero Insurance. “We were able to put the customers in touch and work together with them."
Vero brought in an architect who specialises in historic housing, and used the builder recommended by the homeowners.
“We worked closely with the homeowners to build something they wanted, we thought it was important to retain the historic feel,” said Jimmy Higgins.
The timing of the rebuild suffered a number of setbacks, including continuing aftershocks, and obtaining resource and building consents.
“We were able to work closely with our builders and architects to ensure the rebuild would be faithful to the special character of the homes and although it’s taken longer than we wanted, I’m very happy with the final result,” said Mr Seymour.
The homes have been entered in the Future Heritage section of the Canterbury Heritage Awards.
Photograph taken by Geoff Sloan, The Star.
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