Ex-state houses

Published: 4 October 2017

We have an extensive collection of building and drainage plans relating to state houses, including those that were sold to private owners. These plans are mainly on microfiche aperture cards, although some printed plans are available.

Some of the building plans on microfiche, and a small number of drainage plans, have been scanned and are available electronically on request, at no charge. No printed plans have been scanned as yet.

It is not always possible to identify the plan used for a specific property. To help us assist you, read the following information before contacting us about a property. 

Periods covered by the plans

We hold between 20,000 and 30,000 microfiche plans. The microfiche collection includes plans of houses built between 1937 and 1987. Most plans relate to only a small number of houses, although in some cases a plan may be used in multiple locations across the country:

  • 6 plans have been used more than 100 times
  • 10 plans more than 80 times
  • 80 plans more than 40 times,
  • but 6,200 plans have been used less than 10 times.

No plans for houses built after 1987 are held on microfiche. 

Are you able to tell me when my house was built?

In many cases we are able to indicate the year a house was built. In other cases, we may be able to indicate the date when a house was recorded on our plans, but cannot provide exact information of the construction date.

Do you have records of maintenance work on my house?

Generally, records of maintenance work are not kept for more than seven years. It is unlikely that we will have any information of relevance to you.

How long it takes to get a plan

If the plan can be identified for a house, and the plan has been scanned, it can be emailed to you with little delay.

If the plan has not been scanned but can be identified and located easily, the plan can be scanned and emailed, or printed and posted, within several days.

The microfiche plans are held in a number of offices and sometimes can be identified only from card indexes held in those offices. In other cases, it may take some time to identify the plan used, or to locate a copy of the relevant plan for scanning. In such cases it is best to allow several weeks for the plan to be provided. Plans held only in hard copy may take longer to provide. 

Districts we hold plans for

Plans are held for all districts in New Zealand. However, we have limited information for properties in the Manawatu, Taranaki, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. In those districts it is not usually possible to identify the plans used. 

My house is the same as others in the street - will that help identify the plan?

While houses may appear identical from the outside, there are likely to be subtle but significant differences in construction. It is rare for the same plan to be used several times in the same street. Under such circumstances, we will not provide the plan in case of liability for providing incorrect information.

Information you need to provide to get a plan

Usually all we need is the address of the property. In cases where it is difficult to identify a plan, information on drainage plans held by the local council may help. Where the council holds a drainage plan, there may be a plan reference number inside or next to the outline of the house on the drainage plan. We may be able to use this number to help find information when we have no records of our own for the property.

Problems may arise if the street name has changed, or the properties have been renumbered. While this can often be resolved, it may take extra time to make the appropriate checks. If you are aware of such changes, please let us know when you request a plan.

The council tells me the house did not have a permit - why is that?

In 1991 the Building Act was introduced, which brought a large number of pieces of legislation into one place. In the period leading up to 1991, the various agents who constructed housing on behalf of the Crown were not bound by legislation to obtain a building permit/consent. However, planning and drainage approvals and consents were obtained. Before the 1991 Building Act, state houses were built under legislative powers without requiring a permit from the council. After 1991, permits were required. A council may not have information on older houses, but this does not mean that they were built illegally.

The Housing Corporation - established in 1974 - took its obligations seriously. All state housing construction was supervised by qualified building inspectors and building overseers. State houses were built and maintained to a high standard, even though this was not documented by local councils.


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