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  1.  
    Hi,
    Can anyone share their experiences of claiming VAT back on a self-build, please. We are nearly ready to submit our claim but can't decide whether to do this ourselves or employ someone to check over the claim for us. We are relying on the money from the claim to finish our interior so can't really afford for the claim to be rejected...
    Be grateful for any hints / tips and to hear how other people have done it.
    Thanks,
    Lucy.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2016
     
    No way would I employ someone to do it, the law as it stands says that the tax has to be paid back for materials, with a few exclusions like appliances

    I would wait til you have bought internal stuff, paint, doors etc finance should be cheap.

    Read up on what you can't claim for, some professional services, non fixed items are also excluded, I doubt it would be rejected, more likely adjusted.

    It will be slow to come through as they always have a backlog.

    Borrow from bank or building society and get on with it.
  2.  
    Thanks Tony. Have you made a claim before? I did ring up and was told that if I made any sort of mistake the claim would be void but have now heard that they do adjust claims if you've made a mistake so trying to judge what happens in practice!
    • CommentAuthorJamster
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2016
     
    There are quite clear notes on what can and can't be claimed on the appropriate paperwork (can't remember it off-hand); the general rule of thumb is can I remove it with tools or not, and will it cause 'structural' impacts if I do (I think). What is and isn't included is relatively simple I think - you can claim screws, etc under this if you have the receipts. The forms they include can be replicated in a spreadsheet (might be easier for you) and printed out afterwards. Sort all your receipts into piles (the guidance tells you to claim them separately according to how the VAT is shown on the receipt) and date order or whatever suits you. We used our own simple numbering system for each receipt for comparison against the form.

    What you must remember is that you cannot claim professional fees and that contractors services should have been zero-rated at the start. For example, you can't claim the VAT on your plumbers professional fees as it should have been zero-rated at the start. If you bought 100m of copper pipe from your local merchant, you can claim the VAT on that. Expanding the plumber example, the price we paid our plumber to install our ASHP was 'supply and fit' so all consumables he needed were in that price and not for us to claim or deal with.

    I understand that if you've paid any contractors VAT its up to you to try and claim it back. We gave several of ours a pro-forma with our details, planning permission reference, etc on for their records. They seemed happy with that but I've no idea if the taxman was or not!

    It took about a month to process I think - worth remembering that you can only make one claim though so anything you could claim for your internal fit our couldn't be done at a later date. Once you start getting into building wardrobes, etc it starts to get very specific what is and isn't claimable. I also remember we couldn't claim things like cookers, white goods, etc even if integrated although we could a sink!

    Send it recorded delivery and cross you fingers. We had a specific part of the claim returned with a query for more info and I was able to discuss it with the person who dealt with it for clarity. They were extremely helpful I must say so if you do have queries, it is worth trying to get through to them.
    • CommentAuthorJamster
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2016
     
    Posted By: Lucy KitchenerThanks Tony. Have you made a claim before? I did ring up and was told that if I made any sort of mistake the claim would be void but have now heard that they do adjust claims if you've made a mistake so trying to judge what happens in practice!


    I think it might depend on how they judge your 'intentions'; they returned a single receipt on ours (for a kitchen so significant) asking for more info on that but passing the rest in the interim. We were able to provide more info (I think it was what the constituent parts of the kitchen were) and it was later passed. There was a quasi-threatening aside letter to say that they have the power to fine people for non-valid claims, but that in our case they were satisfied that there was no intention to claim inappropriate items / costs.
  3.  
    I will most likely be submitting my claim in the next couple of months. There are multiple threads about VAT on the forum already which are useful to understand what can / cannot be claimed (although the above is an excellent summary).

    As Tony mentions it depends on how much you have left to do with your "interior finish". There are quite a few things which can be claimed for and, as has already been said, you can only claim once so you might be missing out. However, I know cash flow can always be a challenge and doesn't necessarily mean you can always follow the most optimal path....
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2016
     
    Posted By: Lucy Kitchener
    Can anyone share their experiences of claiming VAT back on a self-build, please.

    As others have said, there are already a lot of threads. Search for VAT reclaim to find some. These threads include links to the documentation and various peoples' experiences (including mine).

    We are nearly ready to submit our claim but can't decide whether to do this ourselves or employ someone to check over the claim for us.

    I wouldn't have thought there's any point in paying anybody to check your claim. As long as you have read the docs and checked any specific queries either here or by phoning HMRC - they're very helpful - you should be fine. They'll typically correct an honest mistake rather than reject the claim.

    We are relying on the money from the claim to finish our interior so can't really afford for the claim to be rejected...

    As has been said, you can only make one claim, so buy what you can before submitting the claim. Note that you will need your completion certificate or similar to make the claim so your interior needs to be almost finished in any case.

    Current starting point for docs seems to be https://www.gov.uk/vat-building-new-home/overview
    • CommentAuthorFred56
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2016
     
    I've done it three times in the past. It is easy these days, fifteen years back it was a lot more difficult. You don't need any outside assistance, just read the rules and make sure all you documents are correctly listed, referenced and filed in logical order. They don't have be chronological, just file them by a the reference number you put on them. When I first did it I put together an access database with reports that replicate the hmrc forms and have used it since. I have never been questioned or had a claim rejected or modified. Just be honest and follow the rules.
    If you can't use databases or spreadsheets, use the hmrc forms.
  4.  
    Thanks all - you've filled me with confidence that I can do it without needing to pay for someone to check it!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 6th 2016
     
    The main thing to realise is that in some cases you reclaim the VAT (eg on materials you purchase) and in others you shouldn't pay VAT it in the first place (eg contractors).

    If you have a situation where a contractor also supplies materials (eg an electrician supplies and installs wire or a plumber supplies and installs pipe) then their whole invoice to you should be zero rated.

    Some things like white goods cannot (usually) be reclaimed. There are notes on the back of the forms as to what can/cannot reclaim.

    Some prep work can be zero rated or reclaimed if it counts as "enabling work" or "work closely associated with" a new house.

    Some landscaping/trees can be reclaimed but only if they are mentioned on a landscape plan submitted as part of a planning condition.

    You can use a spreadsheet to replace some pages of the forms if you keep the same headings.

    Think about how you will send it to the HMRC. What happens if it gets lost? There are limits on how much you can insure packages sent through the post.

    If you aren't sure if something can be reclaimed post the question on the forum. Someone will know.
    • CommentAuthorRex
    • CommentTimeAug 7th 2016
     
    I seem to recall that I had to submit a Completion Certificate, but I may be wrong. I know that I did submit one, as I had more of less completed the build by the time I made the VAT reclaim.

    Did it all on a spreadsheet; received the refund about one moth later and the paperwork returned around two weeks after the refund. I offered to send a cd of the spreadsheet, but I guess because of 'virus' risk, they did not want one, just paper.

    Easy peasy!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 7th 2016
     
    Yes you normally need to send a copy of the completion certificate. However a house doesn't have to be totally complete to get a certificate. We got ours with two bathroom not fitted. Just had to block off the waste pipes for the pressure test and the BCO was happy.

    However you can't reclaim the VAT on anything purchased after the date on the cert so buy all your materials first even if you can't fit them until you get the VAT back. Anyone you hire after the completion cert is issued should also charge you VAT.
    • CommentAuthorJC48
    • CommentTimeAug 7th 2016
     
    Hi Is is right that you cannot claim back the VAT in your DIY claim for anything bought after the completion certificate date - I couldn't find a reference to this on the HMRC web site
    Thanks James
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 8th 2016
     
    I can't find a reference either! My understanding is that anything built after completion is treated like an extension and those are not zero rated/reclaimable.
  5.  
    This may be a stupid question, but who issues the "Completion Certificate"?

    My architect, who is contract managing, will issue a certificate of practical completion. Building Control will issue something as well I'm sure and then the Local Planners will also discharge my remaining conditions. I'm not sure if any of these count?
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 8th 2016
     
    Posted By: richardelliotThis may be a stupid question, but who issues the "Completion Certificate"?

    Building control.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 8th 2016 edited
     
    My architect, who is contract managing, will issue a certificate of practical completion. Building Control will issue something as well I'm sure and then the Local Planners will also discharge my remaining conditions. I'm not sure if any of these count?


    Normally HMRC want the Building Control Certificate. However they will accept other evidence of completion. There is a short list in the notes on the back to the reclaim form.
    • CommentAuthorJC48
    • CommentTimeAug 8th 2016
     
    I checked with HMRC re claiming for items bought after Completion Certificate has been issued - eventually got to speak to an advisor . CWatters is correct you cannot claim for any items bought after the completion certificate has been issued - This has caught me out as it isn't stated on any of the reclaim information on the HMRC web
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 8th 2016
     
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-708-buildings-and-construction/vat-notice-708-buildings-and-construction

    section 3.3.2

    ‘Completion’ takes place at a given moment in time. That point in time is determined by weighing up the relevant factors of the project, such as:

    * when a Certificate of Completion is issued
    ...
    Once construction is ‘complete’, any further supplies of construction services (other than those mentioned at 3.3.6) are no longer ‘in the course of construction’ and are thus ineligible for the zero rate.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2016
     
    There are a few other possible VAT gotchas to do with dates...

    Refurbishing a house that has been empty for many years also qualifies for zero or reduced VAT, but if you move in before starting work the house is no longer empty and the work becomes liable for VAT. So it's important to start work first then move in. Do things in the wrong order even if just by a few days and you can loose the VAT free status.

    Something like a Granny Annex doesn't qualify for zero rating if it cannot be sold as a separate dwelling. So suppose you are granted Planning Permission but comes with a condition that prevents separate occupation and you get the condition removed 9 months later. I recall a case on another forum where this happened and HMRC decided that work done in those 9 months didn't qualify for zero rating. Only work done after the planning condition was removed could be zero rated.

    Just after we got the roof on our council sent us a letter stating that they would consider us complete for council tax purposes on a certain date. The date they picked was about a month before we expected to be complete. We wrote back with our estimated date which they accepted. However had we not done that I suppose it's possible the HMRC might have used that date as the cut off for the VAT reclaim if they found out.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2016
     
    In Scotland (or maybe just Highland) they have the concept of a temporary completion certificate where the house is considered habitable and you can move in (and presumably start paying council tax). You then (typically?) have a year to complete the house and get the full completion certificate. Any experience of how HMRC treats those?
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2016
     
    It's not clear but in order to get the VAT you have to provide evidence of completion and on that the reclaim form says..

    If you do not have a Completion Certificate yet, we will accept one of the following documents:

    * a habitation letter from the local authority (in Scotland, a temporary habitation certificate).
    * in England an Wales, a VOA: Notice of making a New Entry into the Valuation List.
    * in Northern Ireland, a District Valuer's Certificate of Valuation
    * in Scotland, a Joint Valuation Board Notice of Tax Banding, or
    * a letter from your bank or building society saying....


    So I think you need to be wary.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2016
     
    Indeed, seems like there's a need to be wary. Thanks.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2016
     
    Maybe you could squat in your own partly built dwelling (no running water I think means it isn't habitable)?

    My brain hurts when I try to think through the implications, especially since I have no knowledge of Scottish law.
  6.  
    ''received the refund about one moth later''

    Impending lepidopteral flippancy alert!:bigsmile:
    •  
      CommentAuthornumenius
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2016 edited
     
    Is a detached garage built at the same time and on the same site, to serve our new home included? (since the garage is obviously not a dwelling in itself, but is part of the project and serves the house) I could ask, but I know that with government or council if you ask a question and the answer is debatable, and could be in your favour, they will always just say "no" ... based on many experiences! :bigsmile:
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2016
     
    Posted By: numeniusIs a detached garage built at the same time and on the same site, to serve our new home included?

    Yes, assuming it is part of the planning permission.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 24th 2016
     
    +1

    A garage is mentioned in the notes at the back of the reclaim form. As I remember one bit says you can't reclaim for a garage (meaning a garage built on it's own) and another bit says you can reclaim as long as it's built at the same time as the house.
    •  
      CommentAuthornumenius
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2016
     
    Thanks. That's good news! :-)
    • CommentAuthorGreenfish
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2016
     
    Finally compiling my receipts prior to my VAT claim. I am fairly clear on what can and can not be claimed for, but just wondering what is the best way to deal with receipts where some items are not being claimed for?

    For example I have a B&Q receipt for some paint (claimable) and sandpaper (a consumable and therefore can not be claimed). Do I cross out the sandpaper and amend the total by hand? Do I list the original total on my spreadsheet (to help identify the receipt along with the date) along with the actual total I am claiming? Do I ignore small things like sandpaper and hope that HMRC don't notice?

    What have other people done?
   
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