Simplicity blows up Fletcher Building for lack of Gib

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Shane Brealey says Gib's shortage should have been expected.

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Shane Brealey says Gib’s shortage should have been expected.

Property developer Simplicity Living says it has canceled all its orders for Fletcher Building Gib panels and is importing plasterboard directly because it is cheaper.

The company, owned by provider KiwiSaver Simplicity, builds homes for the rental market.

He said he could get equivalent drywall for $19.50 a sheet, compared to Gib’s $25.

The equivalent of Gib Aqualine is imported at 40% less.

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Simplicity said a container had recently arrived, eight weeks after it was ordered. An order had been placed for two containers per month for the next three years.

Simplicity Living chief executive Shane Brealey said imported gypsum board is widely used in the United States.

Some builders have had problems replacing Gib board with other gypsum board because councils need to be satisfied that the material meets building code requirements.

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Fletcher Building has apologized after a Canterbury builder captured video evidence of Gib being stored at a Fletcher Living building site in Lincoln.

Competitors have already expressed frustration that architects are specifying ‘Gib’ as if it were a generic term for plasterboard, and council inspectors are adamant about allowing builders to swap it.

Brealey said Simplicity had more flexibility because it produced three-story concrete structures from an engineered design. The commercial construction sector had more flexibility than wood-frame residential developments, he said. Because he didn’t use Gib bracing systems, it was easier to sign.

“It’s tragic that it only takes eight weeks to get much needed plasterboard from South Asia, but eight months from South Auckland,” he said.

“Looking at building permits, Fletchers must have known there would be a shortage of plasterboard at least 12 months ago. So why aren’t they doing what we just did?” he said.

Without an adequate supply of plasterboard, it was difficult for builders to finish homes.

Fletcher Building last month asked builders in Aotearoa not to order Gib plasterboard until their site was ready for installation, to ensure orders could be fulfilled when needed amid national shortage of building materials.

“It’s just crazy that we have to import such a basic product as plasterboard to build homes that we desperately need in time,” Brealey said.

“How come we have concrete, framing, doors, windows, roofing, hardware and everything else needed – but we have a problem with the simplest of products – the Gib panel ?”

Hamish McBeath, general manager of building products at Fletcher Building, said he supported initiatives undertaken by other companies to supply plasterboard to industry.

Property developer Simplicity Living said it could source equivalent drywall for $19.50 a sheet, compared to Gib's $25.

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Property developer Simplicity Living said it could source equivalent drywall for $19.50 a sheet, compared to Gib’s $25.

“We understand that the increased demand for plasterboard impacting supply is frustrating. Winstone Wallboards is doing everything it can to increase the amount of wallboard in the industry.

“This includes operating our two manufacturing plants 24/7 and sending enough plasterboard for installation in 1,000 new mid-size New Zealand homes per week. Despite plasterboard production at record levels, industry demand still exceeds production capacity.

He said Winstone was also looking at ways to increase plasterboard supply, including importing plasterboard from Australia.

“We recently worked with Etex Australia to supply standard plasterboard, which we imported for about six months. The agreement including [Winstone Wallboards] provide raw materials and expertise to Etex to ensure that the plasterboard we receive from them meets our performance requirements.

“Unfortunately, Australia is also experiencing a shortage of plasterboard, which is why Etex terminated its agreement with us at the end of 2021, in order to be able to focus on its domestic market. However, we have recently been informed that it may be possible to resume this arrangement from August. From.

“We continue to explore this possibility and others to alleviate the current shortage of plasterboard in the market.”

He said a new plasterboard manufacturing plant is set to be completed by next June.

“The new plant will significantly increase production and have the capacity to meet the demand levels we are seeing today.”

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