$16m bill for Wellington’s Kate Sheppard apartment earthquake repairs

Every window is being replaced in Wellington’s Kate Sheppard apartments as part of a $16 million repair bill almost five years after the Kaikōura earthquake.

The 10-level complex is covered in white and pale green wrapping to help protect it while the work is undertaken.

Located on Molesworth St, opposite Parliament, the building consists of 64 spacious premium quality apartments.

The area was hit hard by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck just after midnight on November 14, 2016.

A nine-storey building further up Molesworth St had to be demolished along, with Defence House on Aitken St.

Kate Sheppard apartments remained structurally sound after the earthquake but sustained interior and exterior surface damage.

Body corp chairman Alan Stewart said every earthquake was different.

“There’s just no knowing how an earthquake will affect some buildings and not others and this one was particularly hard on the Thorndon area, but in other parts of the city it didn’t do any damage at all.”

Stewart told the Herald an insurance claim of $3m was made to fix the interior of the building, which suffered cracks in the paint, gib and tiles.

A separate insurance claim of $13m was made to replace all of the exterior windows on the building, Stewart said.

“From the outside all you could see wrong with our building were cracks going from the corner windows in the plaster finish.

“On the surface it didn’t look too bad.”

But on closer examination, it was clear resealing the windows was not enough to guarantee the building would be watertight.

So the decision was made to replace all the windows and balcony doors.

The windows have to be removed and then replaced with a corrugated plastic sheet in the meantime.

A new frame is put in, then the glass, followed by the surrounding timber and a final paint job.

The two-year programme started in July last year and is now scheduled to finish in December, six months early. That’s thanks to efficiencies being found as work has progressed.

Stewart said the majority of people living in the apartments have carried on as usual despite the construction disruption and the building being wrapped, which means they can’t see out the windows.

He said there were mixed feelings about the work, but the majority of apartment owners have been co-operative.

“A few have been upset about the intrusion and the lack of vision. Generally tenants are more upset than owners.”

The apartments were constructed in 2004 and have subsequently been listed on the market as being 100 per cent of the New Building Standard.

Stewart indicated the building would undergo a fresh seismic assessment once construction work is finished.

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