Product substitution guidance for plasterboard elements


There is currently a high degree of focus in the New Zealand construction sector related to supply chain issues and building material shortages.

This is a global issue driven by a combination of factors, including the effects of Covid-19 and increased construction activity, but which has a flow-on effect for everyone in the industry.

The MBIE says in some cases, specified building products may need to be substituted to ensure construction can continue using available products. This can happen after a building consent is issued, sometimes at a late stage in the building process.

There is a lot of uncertainty regarding common products being substituted. The MBIE understands the market is constantly changing and it can be difficult to keep up with these changes.

Product substitution guidance for plasterboard elements

New Zealand is currently experiencing a shortage of plasterboard products. When considering the substitution of these products, it is critical that the substitute product will continue to meet the performance requirements of the New Zealand Building Code.

It is possible to manage product substitution and minor variations quickly and effectively, while still maintaining compliance with the Building Code.

In order to provide clarification to building consent authorities (BCAs) on the appropriate way to apply the Building (Minor Variation) Regulations 2009 with respect to plasterboard linings, the MBIE has published a new guidance document, which is intended to promote clarity and certainty for all parties regarding how minor variations involving plasterboard linings are dealt with.

This guidance must be read in conjunction with the more general Product Substitution guidance published by the MBIE in December 2021.

While this guidance is intended for BCAs, it may also be useful for designers, builders and others who need to explain to clients and stakeholders what is involved in the substitution of products.

Product substitution guidance – Plasterboard linings

To help you manage the risk when substituting products or materials, the MBIE highly recommends the following:

• Get in contact early with suppliers, especially if you are aware of current supply chain constraints.

• Be upfront and engage with designers and/or council early, to ensure the correct process is followed.

You should take the three-step approach outlined in the MBIE’s product substitution guidance:


Consider the legal context, particularly any additional obligations you might incur from product substitution.


Consider the broader implications of using a different product to that specified, including whether it is fit for the same purpose and still meets the owner’s needs, and then


Implement any changes. For example, does substituting the product require an amendment to a building consent?

Further information

How BCAs should assess and process minor variations | Building Performance

Minor variations guidance | Building Performance

If you have questions, email the team at

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