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The Fire

In July 2012 we had replaced the sauna stove (heater). We had not been able to get replacement elements for the previous stove as the Christchurch supplier had closed after the earthquakes.

On the morning of Saturday 25 May 2013 at 4am the Owner, Peter, was overseas and two staff members and two family members were alseep in the house when they were woken by a loud bang. Upon investigation, the building was found to be on fire and all were evacuated safely and the Fire Brigade called.

The loud bang was the sauna stove falling through the floor and fire investigators determined that it had not been installed properly.

The sauna and spa areas were badly damaged by the fire and there was extensive smoke damage throughout the rest of the building. As a result the business was completely closed for four weeks. Our staff, the builder and several volunteers worked very hard during those four weeks to get the mainly undamaged part of the building cleaned, modified and ready for operation.

It is to be noted that apart from those four weeks, the Wingate Club had been opened every day of the year since it first opened on 28 November 1992.

On June 29 the business reopened with the downstairs area being a new cruise area with three cubicles and two video areas. The bottom courtyard was available, although the rest of the grounds and the swimming pool were closed off for safety reasons. Soon after a 7-seater spa was purchased and installed in the bottom courtyard.

Following this a huge effort was made to ensure the grounds, swimming pool and steam sauna were reopened for the summer. This included a lot of cleaning work, temporary repairs, and temporary fencing.

The opportunity was taken to install a large deck outside the back door. The spa was moved onto the deck, which is now its permanent position. The swimming pool and steam sauna equipment, which was badly damaged, was replaced and these areas were reopened on 12 October. The Auckland Council have been very involved in ensuring we comply with swimming pool regulations and a new gate was placed on the path leading to the bottom courtyard and new doors have had to have closers and high handles. The old shower area and one of the toilets was also restored to temporary service.

Due to major changes in building regulations we are not able to restore the building to its previous configuration, but have had to have a major re-design if the interior. This includes having wheelchair access and not being able to have the loft areas we previously had. We are also taking the opportunity to upgrade this area of the business.

We had major problems with obtaining a Building Consent. This finally arrived 19 May 2014. A six week delay occured while the walls were manufactured and shipped to the site. (Which was supposed to take three weeks.) It was expected that construction would occur reasonably quickly after that. However, major problems with the material supplied has put this on hold. Strong efforts were made to rectify this situation and get the rebuild underway again.

Unfortunately there were a large number of continuing and escalating problems with the builder and on Friday 27 February 2015 he removed materials and his tools from the site and put up lockout notices. After obtaining legal advice we cancelled his contract on 2 March 2015 and then re-entered and regained access to the building. Following this the rebuild was completed by Wingate staff and customer volunteers, meeting all requirements of Auckland Council.

The new wing of the building was opened to customers at 12:15am on 23 May 2015, just a couple of days before the second anniversary of the fire.

Rebuild Plans

12 to 20 December 2013: Scaffolding put up and plastic wrap placed over the scaffolding so that builders can work in all weathers. Demolition started on 20 December.

20 December to 6 January 2014: Demolition continued. Most of the interior structures removed. Temporary toilets and showers installed in the grounds.

January to April 2014: Demolition completed to under-floor level, sub-floor cleaned and repaired as required and new floor installed.

19 May 2014: Obtained Building Consent from Auckland Council.

New walls to arrive from Christchurch promised three weeks after Consent. However did not arrive until 15 July.

15 July. Builder immediately starts work on construction of walls. However on the same day found a major error with the material supplied. The interconnecting notches have been cut incorrectly. Supplier immediately notified.

17 July. Supplier sends 'expert' to check material. Expert tells Wingate and builder that there is, indeed, an error in the manufacturing, but when back in Christchurch tells his company that the supply is ok.

Supplier tells builder to just 'smash' it together with a sledgehammer. Builder refuses. Supplier refuses to supply requested specifications and drawings or any other evidence to demonstrate their assertion that manufacture is correct, despite numerous requests.

Auckland Council gives builder verbal instruction to not continue work until situation is resolved. Builder takes legal action against supplier.

Currently working with builder, Council and Supplier to get situation resolved as quickly as possible with meetings with Council and the supplier during the third week of August.

It is expected that it will take about two to three weeks to repair the manufacturing error once resolution is obtained.

Once the material is repaired and construction recommences it will take about four weeks to get the building to water-tight stage. It will take a further six to eight weeks to complete the interior fit-out. Finally it may take up to 20 days for the Council to supply a Certificate of Compliance after which it may be opened for use.

Due to major problems with the builder the above schedule dragged out severely and with an escalated and acrimonious dispute the builder's contract was cancelled on 2 March 2015. As the builder had physically threatened three of our staff he and his workers were formally tresspassed from the site.

As this is a commercial site, the builder does not need to be LPB registered as would be required for a domestic building and therefore Wingate staff and a number of regular customers spent March, April and May working extremely long hours in order to get the building completed. On 22 May 2015 we had meet all requirments of Auckland Council and the building was opened to customers on 23 May 2015.

The Wingate Club offers its huge appreciation and sincere thanks to those customers who put in long hours assisting with completing the building.