Housing developer finds solution to major GIB-board shortage as builders wait months to line their walls

An Auckland housing developer has found a way around the major GIB-board shortage, by importing its own plasterboard from Thailand.

Fletcher Building has a near-monopoly on the plasterboard market and one company might have the answer. 

It might look like GIB, but it's not. It's standard plasterboard from Thailand which has just been approved by Auckland Council for use in the super city.

And Simplicity Living managing director Shane Brealey said it's the solution.

"There is a solution there, it's a high-quality product and it takes eight weeks to get here from south-east Asia."

Simplicity Living has cancelled contracts with GIB producer, Fletcher Building, and since then they've had calls from 75 other developers and builders wanting to import the GIB alternative.

"Twenty to 30 percent of our home building capacity would be within those 75 parties."

Jennian Homes Wellington owner Simon Barber is one of those builders waiting and waiting for GIB to line his walls.  

"We should have had GIB on-site four weeks ago,

"It might come in July, might come in September, it might come in November, Barber added. 

Fletcher Building says the GIB shortages are due to record levels of building activity. 

In a typical year, about 35-thousand building consents are issued, but in the past 12 months, 

there's been 50-thousand, and that's putting massive pressure on both the sector and its supply chain. 

"The wheels start falling off at about 36-thousand consents, and that's what we're seeing at the moment," Barber said. 

So the building sector is hammering out solutions with the government, to make it easier for builders to use GIB alternatives.

"Working really constructively with the design profession on that, and guidance to consenting authorities around how they can have a really streamlined process for accepting the substitute of one plasterboard for another," Ministry of Business and Employment's general manager of building system performance John Sneyd said. 

"It's got to be a permanent fix so we never have this risk again of putting all our eggs in one basket to be let down by an unreliable supplier," Brealey said. 

Fletchers says its new plasterboard plant is on track to open next year, and two other factories are operating 24/7.

Master Builders CEO David Kelly is pleased that the industry is coming together to address any regulatory barriers to the use of alternative products. 

"It’s great to see MBIE taking the lead on instructing consenting authorities on how different products can be used. The industry will also be giving advice to designers and builders about the information they need to provide as part of the consenting process for alternative products.”