Despite having total replacement cover for his house, his land having been "Red Zoned" meant the only way of not incurring substantial losses on his riverside Edwardian villa would be to move the house to a new section elsewhere. There is no shortage of land around Christchurch, but very little of it has zoning allowing for smaller section subdivision; consequently, there's been a boom in property prices near town.
And, sections available near town are encumbered. Here's David:
I'd not heard of covenants either; I can't tell what proportion of covenants is demanded by neighbours as condition of a property's subdivision and what proportion is imposed by developers wanting to increase the overall value of the development.
He found an uncovenanted section through a bit of serendipity. But do read his whole article for the rather high costs that legal restrictions on subdivisions have had on his family.
Similar stories, with less happy endings, are surely playing out for lots of red zoned families.
The Productivity Commission rightly pointed to council plans and zoning as fuelling property price inflation, seconding very nice work by Arthur Grimes showing the effects of Auckland's restrictions.
Maybe Council was too busy in the earthquake's aftermath to think about redoing its zoning and subdivision regulations. All the more reason for other places to fix things now, so that property markets can adjust more quickly in case of emergency.