Recommended Posts

Thanks for letting me join. My first post is right at the very end of my project that started a lot of years ago! The project took much longer than originally planned as my husband got cancer halfway through. He was determined to get well and finish it but work ground to a halt for quite a long time whilst he had treatment, and sadly he later died in May 2016. I was left (with no building knowledge!) to finish the project on my own. It was difficult to get builders in both due to the remote(ish) location and not many of them wanted to take on jobs that had been started (hubby was doing much of the build himself) but I've finally got things sorted and in December I got the completion certificate from the council. Mindful of the 3 month deadline I need to get cracking with the claim. 

 

Having looked at the current VAT reclaim form I have a number of questions that I would like some help with please:  

 

  1. The form asks for the date that I occupied the building. Originally we had a caravan on site but once some of the downstairs rooms and the downstairs shower room were finished we moved into them, expanding into the other rooms as they were completed. The council made us pay council tax very early on so there has been no avoidance of tax from that perspective but I''m not really sure what date to put on the form as I guess we were living here 'without permission' until the completion certificate was granted. Does it matter what date I put?
  2. There are sections for invoices that show VAT separately and those that don't which is fine, but what should I do where some of the items on an invoice are eligible to be claimed for, and others not? For example an invoice for paint and paint brushes where I can only claim for the former? The full amount of the VAT is shown separately at the bottom (not against each item), so should I show that invoice under section D (VAT amounts shown separately) of the claim and recalculate the VAT for the eligible items?
  3. Following on from 2 above, can I claim for delivery for the invoice covering paint and paint brushes (delivery is a single line item on the invoice rather than a separate freight invoice)? 
  4. The original plans do not show a garage but one has been constructed during the course of the build. The reason why it wasn't on the original planning permission is that council changed their mind (twice!) about the access to next door's house so the location of the garage had to wait until that was agreed. Then we built a garage that was within permitted development limits so didn't need to alter the planning permission and building control said they weren't interested in it as it isn't attached to the house. So am I able to claim for materials used in its construction? 
  5. The invoices are mostly in either my name or that of my husband's (I assume I can note my husband's death in section 23) but there are 1 or 2 invoices where builders (non VAT registered) ordered materials in their own name (despite being asked not to!). Can I claim for those too? 
  6. There is one invoice that went missing in the post (ie never reached me). The company in question sent a copy invoice which is noted as a copy. Is that tough luck on my part or can I claim for that one? 
  7. Anything else you think I need to be aware of re the claim? 

 

Many thanks in advance for any help. 

 

 

Edited by newhome
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome, and sorry to hear of your husbands passing part-way through the build, that must have been heartbreaking,.

 

On a more practical note, I think the following should answer your questions (if I've made any errors, I'm sure our resident VAT expert, @Temp will be able to correct them shortly):

 

I'd put the completion date on, saves hassle and I don't think it makes any difference to the claim process anyway (not 100% sure why they ask for it).

 

What I did was staple invoices to a sheet of A4 and write notes to clarify the amount of VAT being reclaimed, whenever there was a mix of eligible and ineligible items on a recepit, just to make this clearer.  This worked OK with HMRC, or at least we had no queries from them.

 

If delivery is included in the total for goods delivered, then yes, it's OK to claim it.

 

Unfortunately you can only claim VAT back for what was on the approved plans, not anything extra.  I found they were hot on this, as our approved plans included a cycle store (to comply with the old rules) and before our plans were approved those rules were binned, so I never built the cycle store.  HMRC spat back the whole claim for that and made us resubmit it, and post back the big box of receipts............

 

You can't reclaim VAT for materials bought by non-VAT registered contractors, I'm afraid.  We arranged to buy all materials for the two or three non-VAT registered people we used to get around this.

 

The copy invoice should be fine.  We had several, including one from Denmark, and HMRC just accepted them.

 

I knocked up a spreadsheet copy of the form that is acceptable to HMRC, and which adds up the sub-totals as you go and copies them to the next page.  It's here if you want to use it: http://www.mayfly.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/VAT Claim Form 431 - Blank.xls

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for the quick reply. Life can be cr4p sometimes for sure! 

 

I have already stapled all invoices to separate A4 sheets and they are all filed in folders so I will write on details as you suggest. I didn't know you could claim for any delivery charges at all before reading this site so have to go back and add the deliveries back on that I carefully removed. At least that's more money payable to me, not less :). And I will take a look at your spreadsheet. The rules have changed a bit since I started my own spreadsheet all those years ago.  

 

How will they know about the garage if I don't note it? I don't see how I can split some of the invoices between house and garage easily really as the materials are the same pretty much. 

 

Do they send you the invoices back? If not should I photocopy them all? (not feeling the love for photocopying over 400 invoices :S). 

 

I didn't think I could claim for invoices in someone else's name - annoyingly I ended up paying the invoices for those materials direct to the suppliers rather than to the builder anyway! It's not a massive amount though so no biggy. I mostly had all materials invoiced to me direct and only paid builders for labour. 

 

I'm really surprised that they will accept copy invoices given the fuss they make about them being originals. 

 

I will write a covering letter about my husband I think to explain why there are no invoices for a very long period while he was ill until I restarted the project last year. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can tell them about the garage, but as it wasn't on the approved plans, you can't claim back any VAT on it.  This is the same as if you had built the garage under PD, when you would have had to pay VAT.  The exemption from paying VAT only applies to the new dwelling, as shown on the approved plans that were part of the original planning permission, I'm afraid.  If your plans included an approved landscaping scheme you can reclaim the VAT for that, though.

 

Yes, they did send them back (twice......) but it is a good idea to copy them, in case they get lost in the post.  I took a risk and didn't copy them, but posted them with an insured delivery, so that if they got lost I could claim the value of the loss (I hoped!).

 

It is annoying paying VAT when you have a right to get it back, or not pay it, but get thwarted by red tape.  We had a few like this, including losing around £500 of VAT on our kitchen worktops, because the kitchen supplier made an error on the receipt, that couldn't be retrospectively corrected.

 

A lot of our invoices were just print outs from email attachments anyway, so they were really copies.  The two or three where I had to get copies of invoices because they either hadn't been supplied originally, or maybe I'd lost them, were accepted without question, and one was for well over £1000 of VAT.

 

I think it would be a very good idea to write a covering letter, explaining your circumstances.  Don't expect sympathy from the HMRC office in Newcastle, though, they don't seem at all sympathetic...........

 

Everyone here would love to hear about your build, as we're all intrinsically curious about each other's projects, so we'd love to hear more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't help you on the vat @newhome but so very sorry to read your story.  What a huge achievement, I'm sure he would have been very proud of you for finishing it.

 

I hope you have very many happy years in your new home.x

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose what I meant about the garage is if I put 0 garages (and didn't claim for the obvious things like the garage door) how would they know what building materials were for that vs the main house. I'm not even sure I would know how to split them TBH as things like the roof tiles are all the same. Or should I try to work it out? 

 

I don't have a landscaping scheme so am just claiming for boundary fences.  

 

Yes it's annoying when you can't claim back VAT that you feel you should be eligible to claim but to be honest I will just be happy to get the majority of the money back. The project has felt like a millstone round my neck since my hubby got sick in truth. 

 

I am going to send the paperwork via an insured service but I'm not sure how you stand to claim the full VAT amount back should the parcel go astray. Did you insure it for the full amount of the claim? I might take photos of the invoices to 'file' them. That'll be a few hours of my life I will never get back ;). We'll see ..... 

 

I didn't expect sympathy from HMRC. I imagine they would be as understanding as the Scottish Courts were when my husband had the audacity to die in England where we had gone so that he could have treatment not available in Scotland, and I had to apply for probate in Scotland. I just want the letter to explain why there was a big gap in the timeline between invoices plus why some are made out to my husband and not me as the claimant to save those queries from them. 

 

We did start a blog when we first started but it doesn't go very far as we were not into blogging really so soon got bored and stopped! 

 

http://bordershousenewbuild.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Things I have learnt from experience:

  1. There will always be things that you wish you had done differently. For me the main one was that I wish that we had made the utility room larger as I could easily lose some of the kitchen / family room and not even notice. 
  2. If you make something complicated it will invariably go wrong. My hubby was into gadgets and technology so the house has various gizmos most of which I don't use, or have gone wrong and I don't have the knowledge to fix them. The heating here is a nightmare. I have had several people out to try to fix it / get it working differently but none have managed to make sense of how it was intended to work in the first place. I also have an understairs cupboard of wires and no idea what most of them do! 
  3. You will likely not need a house the size of the one you are building. That applies to me anyway. I have a crazy number of rooms and bathrooms that I never even go in!
  4. Lining builders up can be like herding cats (or worse!). 
  5. Things always take longer than you expect ......
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bittersweet story and huge admiration for sticking with it and seeing it through.

 

We're (hopefully) getting our completion certificate tomorrow so will be cracking on with the VAT reclaim. Good tip on using that as the occupation date.

 

In our approved plans, our basement was shown as an open box as we'd not decided how to split it up.

 

We subsequently chopped it into four rooms - however would HMRC choke on this when we submit VAT for the framing timber and doors down there? Everything else was zero rated so not the end of the world if they won't accept it but would like to avoid the hassle. Planning were not interested as it was internal works and as not bedrooms, as long as it met with regs they were happy.

 

I suppose I could submit a NMA if I was really bothered.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On our last house, the approved plans showed a huge basement - we turned it into a bedroom, ensuite , utility, gym and store room and for the vat back on the above.

 

Hope this helps

Edited by Trw144

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Trw144 said:

On our last house, the approved plans showed a huge basement - we turned it into a bedroom, enquiry, utility, gym and store room and for the vat back on the above.

 

Hope this helps

 

Great - did you submit drawings for the new layout or just the materials themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Bitpipe Just the materials, so if you compared the plans and claim to any detail you would have spotted it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, newhome said:

I suppose what I meant about the garage is if I put 0 garages (and didn't claim for the obvious things like the garage door) how would they know what building materials were for that vs the main house. I'm not even sure I would know how to split them TBH as things like the roof tiles are all the same. Or should I try to work it out?

 

 

If there's nothing on any of those materials receipts that identifies that they were for the house or the garage then I'd leave them as-is, and include them.  Leave off the items that are clearly for a garage.

 

The daft thing is that if you had got your PP amended to include the garage then you could claim for it all anyway, so it seems morally fine to me to include those materials.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi and welcome. 

Sorry to hear of your tragic loss, but glad to hear you have pushed on and completed the build.

 

46 minutes ago, newhome said:

If you make something complicated it will invariably go wrong. My hubby was into gadgets and technology so the house has various gizmos most of which I don't use, or have gone wrong and I don't have the knowledge to fix them. The heating here is a nightmare. I have had several people out to try to fix it / get it working differently but none have managed to make sense of how it was intended to work in the first place. I also have an understairs cupboard of wires and no idea what most of them do! 

 Can you post some pics of what you have and garnish with any other info you know about what system has been fitted and ill have a go at deciphering it. Once deciphered I can do a plan for you and then you can get a local to come in to carry out the work. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Nickfromwales said:

 

 Can you post some pics of what you have and garnish with any other info you know about what system has been fitted and ill have a go at deciphering it. Once deciphered I can do a plan for you and then you can get a local to come in to carry out the work. :)

 

That is amazingly kind of you. I will take some photos and post them. It's all wet underfloor heating, an electric boiler (no mains gas here), thermal store, and evacuated tube solar. And none of it works properly! 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, newhome said:

 

That is amazingly kind of you. I will take some photos and post them. It's all wet underfloor heating, an electric boiler (no mains gas here), thermal store, and evacuated tube solar. And none of it works properly! 

 

 

No problem, add as much info as you can, sounds straightforward enough tbh. ;)

In a new thread of course ! :ph34r::D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trust us, if there isn't the expertise here on this forum to sort out your heating and hot water system I shall be amazed!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, JSHarris said:

Trust us, if there isn't the expertise here on this forum to sort out your heating and hot water system I shall be amazed!

No pressure then xD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, JSHarris said:

 

 

If there's nothing on any of those materials receipts that identifies that they were for the house or the garage then I'd leave them as-is, and include them.  Leave off the items that are clearly for a garage.

 

The daft thing is that if you had got your PP amended to include the garage then you could claim for it all anyway, so it seems morally fine to me to include those materials.

 

Thank you. I'll send it all in and see what happens. Worst case I have to count the tiles I guess :D. The only item that is obviously for the garage is the door and electric motor (which I don't think I can claim for anyway although the door doesn't work without a motor). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, newhome said:

I am going to send the paperwork via an insured service but I'm not sure how you stand to claim the full VAT amount back should the parcel go astray. Did you insure it for the full amount of the claim? I might take photos of the invoices to 'file' them. That'll be a few hours of my life I will never get back ;). We'll see ..... 

Still be a pain but if you can photo your receipts in groups, you may get quite a few in an area you can photo, so long as your camera is reasonable you should be able to expand any if you need to, so long as you have done this you are unlikely to need them.  whereas if you don't.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Hecateh said:

Still be a pain but if you can photo your receipts in groups, you may get quite a few in an area you can photo, so long as your camera is reasonable you should be able to expand any if you need to, so long as you have done this you are unlikely to need them.  whereas if you don't.

 

 

Ah yes, the law of sod :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am pretty much decided I am going to use a vat claim company when the time comes....in a few months I hope.....I have potentially ‘lost’ so much vat from people buying things on their accounts and giving me the bills for reimbursement that I want to make sure I can get everything possible back.

 

I have heard of some cases where hmrc have allowed when a worker has bought something on their account and recharged you (with their original receipt) because purchasing the items in your own name was not possible i.e. Howdens.

 

I had no idea the buying on their own accounts was going on (I have account at local builders merchant that should have been used) until presented with months of receipts adding up to several thousand pounds.  Put a stop to it as soon as I found out. Want to try and see if any of it, which would be reclaimable in my name, can be recovered.

 

I hope worth  a few hundred to me to get a professional on board.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that's a good decision.  

One less thing to worry about

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum, Sorry to hear about your husband.

 

Will try and answer your questions...

 

1) I would put the date that you consider you moved out of the caravan. It might make thinks simpler if that date was also within the three months you have to submit the return. If you decide to put the date you started paying council tax I would include a covering letter explaining why the house wasn't completed until much later and mention your husbands illness.

 

2) You just put the items you are claiming for and recalculate the VAT accordingly. So if the invoice was for £100 and £20 VAT and you are only claiming for £50 of goods you put that and £10 VAT. 

 

Note: You are allowed to submit a spreadsheet instead of paper forms if you prefer - but must keep the same column headings. I added an "Invoice number" column and wrote same number on the receipt. 

 

3) Yes. If the total on an invoice includes delivery I believe you can reclaim it. If it was on a separate invoice then no.

 

4) I'm under the impression that you don't get Permitted Development rights until a house is completed. So the planners were probably bending the rules or turning a blind eye when they allowed the garage to be built before the house was completed. HMRC won't allow you to reclaim anything built after completion or anything built before you are legally allowed to - so on balance I would say you can't reclaim the VAT on the garage materials.

 

5) You can only reclaim VAT on invoices in your name. Officially the builder should have paid those invoices and billed you for the materials less VAT (in which case there would be no VAT for you to reclaim). If you paid the builder VAT then ask for it back. If you paid the supplier then try going back to the supplier asking them to give you a replacement VAT invoice/receipt in your name. Suggest they made a mistake and offer to give them back the one you already have. They may or may not agree.

 

6) I see no problem submitting a copy.

 

The above is just my opinion. I've heard HMRC are stricter than they were when we did ours.

 

Consider taking out insurance for the package when you post it off. Ideally you want consequential loss cover for the full value of the claim but that might be hard or impossible.  

 

Edited by Temp
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all for the replies.   @Temp  I am scared to put the date we 'moved out' of the caravan as that was years ago but the house wasn't finished so we couldn't claim for the vat back then. I seem to recall that you needed a temp habitation or completion certificate back then when we moved in, but had neither as things like the electrics were not signed off (hubby was a former electrician so installed them himself but I ended up getting someone with the right certification to sign them off last year). I notice that the form now says you can provide a council tax banding form as proof of completion but I'm 99% sure that wasn't one of the items on the form when we embarked on this project. In fact the rules seem more streamlined now. We had to provide the full list of materials for a 'kit' house before I believe but can't see that on the form now. So I'll put down the date of completion as @JSHarris suggests above as I honestly can't remember when we moved in. We still had our previous house to begin with, and then I had a rental apartment near my office for a while. If they query it then so be it, and I will say that I genuinely can't recall the date that we moved in officially. Believe me, you really don't want to be living in a caravan when having surgery / chemo / radiotherapy .......  

 

When you say I can use a spreadsheet, you mean a printed version not emailing them an electronic version? I do intend to use my own spreadsheet (logged everything religiously for a very long time until work stalled) and I have used my own numbering system for the invoices and my column headings will match theirs when I print it off. I have additional columns that I used for pivot tables to track various things just now but I will remove those. It says that I need to provide a running total at the end of every page. Does that apply to pages printed from a spreadsheet too? 

 

I'm sure you're right that permitted development is only allowed after a house has been completed and I suspect that building control turned a blind eye to the fact that it was here as it wasn't their department. It's sort of the council's fault in a way though as they altered the planning permission twice after it had been approved because the village council kicked off about the access to next door's house (originally part of the same plot) so they altered it to appease them, hence we couldn't get the location of a garage agreed when planning permission was first awarded, and later on they got a strop on when we wanted to alter something fairly minor - said we had to apply for a brand new permission if anything else needed to change and we didn't want to delay the start of the build so just went with what we had. The planning section know that it's here though as the village council complained to them about it (they're like that round here 9_9) and they told them that it was allowed under permitted development. My neighbours in the new house next door and I used to have a laugh about what complaint would be raised about us by the community council each month. Anything from where my neighbours had left their recycling bin (outside their house like everyone else!) to a builder parking outside my house for a while to unload something (no restrictions on parking here!). Every month we ended up in the minutes about something or other for a period of about 3 years until someone else was the focus of their displeasure. The community council didn't want the 2 houses built here so made it their mission in life to complain about them every single month. I bet the main council was as fed up with them as we were in the end. Vexatious complainants spring to mind ....... Thankfully we don't live in the village itself and I make it my mission to go there as little as possible. Go to the village hall to vote and that's about it!    

 

I finally finished entering all of the invoices. There were 3 that had a builder's name on them rather than mine so I left those off (way too old to ask for new ones to be provided and they weren't for that much money relatively), but there are a handful with my name on them but no address. I've left those in but half expect them to be removed. Another couple of questions from me:

  • what happens if HMRC decide they don't like an invoice? Do they just reduce the vat claim by that amount? Or do they send everything back? Or something else?
  •  the claim is for in excess of 25k. Is there a way of insuring paperwork for that amount? I looked at the Post Office site and a delivery method that insured important documents up to 10k but couldn't see anything for more than that. 

Tomorrow I will be double checking everything before (hopefully!) taking it to the post office on Tuesday. 

 

After that I will get on with posting something about the heating system that @Nickfromwales foolishly kindly offered to help with :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For better or worse the VAT refund has been sent this morning on a next day service. An anxious wait now until it is confirmed as received by HMRC. I tried to insure the parcel but up to £2500 (the max) was going to cost over £100 so hardly seemed worth it. So I just paid the basic price which was just over £20. 

 

Fingers firmly crossed now :)

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should I have received a confirmation of receipt / case number from HMRC? The form said that this generally takes 5 working days, I called on Tuesday (which was 9 working days) and the recorded message says that it takes 10 days, and it's now 11 working days. I can see that the parcel was signed for by the Parcel Force tracking ID. 

 

Also, do they just pay you out with any items they don't allow deducted, or do they come back so that you can challenge? 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now