Auckland Council is cutting back on red tape, approving many substituted building products on-site to help get the industry through a plasterboard supply crisis.
It is also loaning out its building inspectors to other regions to help them speed things up too.
Fletcher Building's Gib board dominates about 95 per cent of the market, but demand is out outstripping supply and it is having to ration product, leaving some housing projects unfinished and some builders struggling to stay afloat.
This week regulators and industry leaders met to come up with solutions.
Auckland Council has already changed how it does things, cutting out the paperwork needed to substitute Gib for generic plasterboard instead.
Jeff Farenshon from the council's regulatory services team told RNZ the majority of its standard plasterboard substitutions were being approved on-site by the inspectors, with minor variations.
Standard plasterboard was not used for bracing or fire lining, or acoustics, which was found in about 80 per cent of the houses, he added.
"Because of the current product shortages out there, not just Gib, we have started to increase the scope to help builders on site not delay their jobs. Where we can approve things on a lower risk scale we would give them a try."
About 90 per cent of plans submitted for consent specify Gib rather than generic plasterboard, he said.
Five or six plasterboards have been approved by regulators and a list submitted to councils.
"We've actually provided this feedback back to MB as part of their process change ... maybe the last six months we've seen products being substituted in this manner," he said.
He said the changes to products were made because of what inspectors were seeing on building sites.
"We are looking at 40-to-50 requests a day for changed products on building sites across Auckland, out of the 800 inspections we're doing a day ... so we had to make a change in terms of our process to make it easier."
Plywood, insulation and other products are included in the product substitutions due to supply chain issues.
"The vast majority have alternatives out there available in the market.
"Plasterboard is one of the products out there that we're needing to import from overseas to make up the shortfall."
There was no bias in the system towards Gib board, not at his council, he said.
"In fact, our councils will only approve what's provided to us in the application, which is the designers' and owners' decision.
"It's written in the Building Act that it can only be a single product, unfortunately, so if they do provide other alternatives in there, they do have to select one.
"It means at the planning stage or the design stage needs to be pretty set before the building consent. We do know that changes happen during construction and that's why the amendment in minor variation process is in place."
He said it would help councils if "or similar" in the product specifications, but the scope for how many products this would apply to should be limited, he said, as it would be difficult to assess and approve a lot of the changes on site.
"It may slow things down if there's a lot of amendments and changes. There's obviously a lot of reasons for having it set in terms of the specified products on the plans."