Changing Approved Plans

For information on making changes to approved plans and specifications see below

Close-up on blueprints with an architectural project in the office

Changing Approved Plans

You need to check with your local Council about approval for any changes to plans that are already approved. Plan changes may also be affected by district plan requirements.

Also, for all changes to the approved plans and specifications, it is important that these changes are approved in writing by the owner and the designer before submitting the altered plans to Council, and before any changes are made to the building. 

For all changes to the approved plans and specifications, it is important that these changes are approved in writing by the owner and the designer before submitting the altered plans to Council, and before any changes are made to the building. You need to check with your local Council about approval for these changes. This may also be affected by district plan requirements.

If the change is considered MINOR, it is a variation (often called a minor variation, or minor amendment) and all that may be required is a handwritten and signed letter saying what you plan to do and a copy of the plans or specifications with these changes written/drawn on them. The legal definition of minor variation is found in the Building (Minor Variations) Regulation 2009:

Clause 3 Minor variation defined

  1. minor variation is a minor modification, addition, or variation to a building consent that does not deviate significantly from the plans and specifications to which the building consent relates.
  2. The following are examples of minor variations and do not constitute an exhaustive list:
    a) substituting comparable products (for example, substituting one internal lining for a similar internal lining)
    b) minor wall bracing changes
    c) a minor construction change (for example, changing the framing method used around a window)
    d) changing a room’s layout (for example, changing the position of fixtures in a bathroom or kitchen).
  3. The examples in subclause (2) are only illustrative of subclause (1) and do not limit it. If an example conflicts with subclause (1), subclause (1) prevails.
  4. To avoid doubt, a minor variation does not include any building work in respect of which compliance with the building code is not required by the Building Act 2004.

If the change is considered  MAJOR, it is an amendment (often called a major amendment, or just an amendment) and you will need to fill in a new Building Consent Application and provide all the associated plans and documentation. If the changes involve Restricted Building Work you will also need to supply a Certificate of Design Work from the designer. An amendment is treated as if it is a new building consent application – as required by section 45(4) (b) the Building Act 2004.

For examples of minor variations and major amendments, see the Building System Performance (MBIE) website.
NOTE: Don’t be confused by MBIE’s terminology of Major Variation. Just focus on whether or not the change is major or minor and what is required.

When applying for a building consent with an issued national multiple-use approval, or for an amendment to such a building consent, changes may be made to those plans and specifications if—

  • (a) the changes are permitted under the terms of the national multiple-use approval; or
  • (b) the changes are minor customisations permitted by regulations made under section 402(1)(kc).

If any other changes are made to the plans and specifications, the national multiple-use approval does not apply. In which case, the applicant must apply for a building consent covering the whole building project, not just an amendment to the plans and specifications.

Relevant legislation:
Building Act 2004,

Key steps

  1. It is strongly advised that any major amendments or minor variations (changes) are approved in writing by the owner and the designer before the altered plans are submitted to the Council, and before any changes are made to the building. In the event of the changes causing building failure, a designer can walk away from any changes to their plans that they did not approve.
  2. Check whether or not the amendment is a major amendment or a minor variation: MBIE guidance
  3. Complete the appropriate application form and submit it and the altered plans and specifications to the BCA
    • Application for a major amendment – this is treated as if it was a new building consent application as required by s45(4)Building Act 2004
    • Application for a minor variation – complete the minor variation form or provide a signed letter saying what you plan to do and a copy of the plans or specifications with the changes were written/drawn on them.

All major amendments must be approved before any related construction begins. Failure to do so will mean that the work is not covered by the building consent or the CCC. To carry out construction that does not comply with the approved and consented documentation is illegal and there are consequences for those that choose to do this.

  • 14C Responsibilities of owner-builder
  • 14E(2) (a) Responsibilities of builder
  • 40 Buildings not to be constructed, altered, demolished, or removed without consent
  • 42 Owner must apply for a certificate of acceptance if building work carried out urgently
  • 44(1) When to apply for a building consent
  • 45(4) (a) (b) How to apply for a building consent
  • 89 Licensed building practitioner must notify the building consent authority of breaches of building consent
  • 96(1) (2) Territorial authority may issue a certificate of acceptance in certain circumstances
  • 164(1) (a) (2) (a) Issue of notice to fix
  • 166(1) (a) (b) Special provisions for notices to fix from building consent authority
  • 168 Offence not to comply with a notice to fix
  • 317(1) (d)(da)(i) and (ii) Grounds for discipline of licensed building practitioners