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Council issues warning to tradies as list of building materials expanded

Auckland builders have an expanded list of materials they can substitute to cope with the supply crunch caused by Covid-19.

But the council is warning tradies to do their homework and check in with it early on.

Supply shortages have been forcing more and more tradies to ask councils if they can swap out specified products if they cannot get them.

Auckland Council has now expanded its scope to allow for swaps of:

timber framing to steel framing metal roofing to concrete tiles, or vice versa some cladding types

Some changes will still require new engineering design or extra checks, said general manager of building consents Ian McCormick.

"It is a balancing act that requires quick decision-making to ensure we are not slowing construction, while also keeping non-compliant materials from being used," he said.

The council is among those that has been allowing its inspectors more leeway for on-site approvals of substitions since alert level differences caused chaos for distributors.

McCormick warned builders must do their homework and get in touch early.

"It ensures the inspector has time to carry out the necessary research or have the conversations needed."

The struggle with supplies extended back six-to-nine months, McCormick said.

"Most often builders come to us with this issue during construction, although some designers have recognised a particular shortage and amended their consent plans before the final consent is issued."

Other innovations included builders forming ad-hoc co-ops to create buying power and social media pages for sharing leftover materials.

Also, "builders [are] putting their hands up to help at other sites due to delays on their own," McCormick said.