New Zealand

Gib Crisis: Auckland cuts red tape by approving other building materials

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Drone footage shows the Tauranga GIB factory under construction. Video / NZ Herald

From RNZ

The City of Auckland is cutting red tape by approving many substituted construction products locally to help the industry overcome a drywall supply crisis.

It is also lending its building inspectors to other regions to help speed things up as well.

Gib’s board of directors of Fletcher Building dominates about 95% of the market, but demand outstrips supply and has to ration the product, leaving some housing projects unfinished and some builders struggling to stay afloat.

Regulators and industry leaders met this week to find solutions.

The Auckland council has already changed the way it does things, instead eliminating the paperwork required to replace Gib with generic drywall.

Jeff Farenshon of the council’s regulatory services team told RNZ that most of the standard drywall replacements have been approved on-site by inspectors, with minor variations.

Standard drywall was not used for reinforcement or fire cladding or for acoustics, which was found in about 80 percent of homes, he added.

“Due to the current shortage of products out there, not just Gib, we have started increasing our reach to help on-site builders not delay their jobs. Where we can approve things on a lower risk scale, we would do them a attempt”.

Jeff Farenshon of the Auckland Council says most of the standard drywall replacements are now being approved on site. Photo / 123rf
Jeff Farenshon of the Auckland Council says most of the standard drywall replacements are now being approved on site. Photo / 123rf

About 90% of the plans submitted for consensus specify Gib rather than generic drywall, he said.

Five or six plasterboard sheets were approved by regulators and a list submitted to councils.

“We have actually provided this feedback to MB as part of the process change … perhaps in the past six months we have seen products replaced in this way,” he said.

He said the changes to the products were made due to what inspectors saw on construction sites.

“We’re looking at 40 to 50 requests per day for modified products on Auckland yards, out of the 800 inspections we’re doing in one day … so we had to make a change in terms of the process to make it easier.”

Plywood, insulation and other products are included in product replacements due to supply chain problems.

“The vast majority have alternatives available on the market.

“Drywall is one of the products out there that we have to import from abroad to make up the deficit.”

There was no bias in the system against Gib’s board, not his board, he said.

“Indeed, our recommendations will only approve what is provided to us in the application, which is the decision of the designers and owners.

“It’s written in the Building Act that it can only be a single product, unfortunately, so if they provide other alternatives in there, they have to select one.

“It means that at the design stage or at the design stage it is necessary to be well defined before the consensus to build. We know that changes occur during construction which is why the amendment is in place in the minor variation process.”

He said it would help advice if “or similar” in product specifications, but the scope for how many products it would apply should be limited, he said, as it would be difficult to evaluate and approve many of the changes on site.

“It could slow things down if there are a lot of amendments and changes. There are obviously many reasons for setting it in terms of the products specified in the plans.”

Gib Crisis: Auckland cuts red tape by approving other building materials

SourceGib Crisis: Auckland cuts red tape by approving other building materials

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