The post-earthquake 3-waters infrastructure rebuild in Christchurch has provided an opportunity to fully integrate safety in design (SiD) and value engineering into designs. With seismic resilience being fundamental to these designs, there is also a need to balance financial constraints imposed by insurance payments on one hand, with a focus on incorporating whole-of-life safety considerations on the other. These apparently conflicting drivers have emboldened designers to go beyond conventional conservative designs to come up with smart, cost-effective solutions. It has also required clients to be engaged in the journey, sometimes taking them outside their comfort zone. Solutions have utilised unconventional equipment and materials, pared-down structures, novel configurations and innovative repair and remediation methodologies. In some instances, resilience has moved from ‘unbreakable’ to ‘easily repairable’. This paper summarises some of these innovative solutions, using delivered examples from the Christchurch rebuild, as well as one built elsewhere, applying the learnings from Christchurch. It highlights the need to have the right people, from multiple disciplines, involved in projects from the outset; to challenge conventional wisdom in delivering safe, resilient, yet cost-effective, infrastructure for our communities.