The Official HMRC stuff

Again - please bear in mind that this now ONLY applies to old applications, and is irrelevant to any new application - which will be subject to 20% vat.



This little lot is pretty much unintelligible, as you would expect from a Government Department.  I reproduce it here, because some people actually ask to see it, and it makes for riveting reading:

9.Zero-rating approved alterations to protected buildings

9.1 The basic conditions for zero-rating approved alterations to a protected building

9.1.1 Introduction

If you carry out work to an existing building you will normally have to charge VAT at the standard rate. You may, however, be able to zero-rate your supplies if you are involved in altering a listed building or scheduled monument which will:

  • remain as or become an eligible dwelling (referred to as a building ‘designed to remain as or become a dwelling’ and explained at paragraph 14.3);
  • be used solely for a ‘relevant residential purpose’ – see paragraph 14.6; or
  • be used solely for a ‘relevant charitable purpose’ (for a charity’s non-business use or as a village hall – see paragraph 14.7).

The remainder of this section explains the detailed conditions that need to be met before you can zero-rate your services.

If you supply and install goods with your services, you will also need to read section 11 to determine the liability of those goods.

9.1.2 The basic conditions

Your services can be zero-rated when all of the following conditions are met:



Further Information


Work is carried out to a ‘protected’ building.

paragraph 9.2


The work is an ‘alteration’ of a protected building and is not work of ‘repair or maintenance’.

paragraph 9.3


The alteration is ‘approved’.

paragraph 9.4


Your services are made ‘in the course of the approved alteration’ of that building.

paragraph 9.5


Where necessary, you hold a valid certificate.

section 16


Your services are not specifically excluded from zero-rating.

paragraphs 9.3 and 9.6

Paragraph 9.7 also explains when you may need to apportion your charges.

9.2 Is the work to a ‘protected’ building?

9.2.1 What is a ‘protected’ building?

A building is a ‘protected’ building when the following conditions are met:

A protected building is a building that is

and is

designed to remain as or become a dwelling or number of dwellings – see paragraph 14.3,

intended for use solely for a relevant residential purpose – see paragraph 14.6, or

intended for use solely for a relevant charitable purpose – see paragraph 14.7

either a listed building – see sub-paragraphs 9.2.2 and 9.2.3, or

a scheduled monument – see sub-paragraph 9.2.4.

9.2.2 What is a listed building?

A listed building is one included in a statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest compiled by the Secretary of State for National Heritage in England and by the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales there are three categories of listed building, Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II. In Scotland the equivalent categories are Grade A, Grade B and Grade C(s). In Northern Ireland the equivalent categories are Grade A, Grade B+ and Grade B.

Buildings within the curtilage of a listed building such as outhouses or garages which, although not fixed to the building, form part of the land and have done so since before 1 July 1948 (for example, an outhouse) are treated for planning purposes as part of the listed building.

Unlisted buildings in conservation areas, or buildings included in a local authority's non-statutory list of buildings of local interest, which used to be known as Grade III buildings, are not ‘protected’ buildings for VAT purposes.

9.2.3 Garages and other curtilage buildings

As noted above at 9.2.2, garages and other curtilage buildings can be treated for planning purposes as part of the listed building.

For VAT purposes, however, any approved alteration carried out to such buildings can only be zero-rated if the building being altered falls within one of the descriptions in sub-paragraph 9.2.1. For example, the conversion of an outhouse in the curtilage of a dwelling to a swimming pool cannot be zero-rated as that building is not ‘designed to remain as or become a dwelling’ in its own right.

Approved alterations to garages in the curtilage of a building ‘designed to remain as or become a dwelling’ can be zero-rated provided that the garage is occupied together with the dwelling; and was either constructed at the same time as the dwelling or, where the dwelling has been substantially reconstructed, at the same time as that reconstruction.

A garage need not be a building designed to store motor vehicles: the term can also apply to a building adapted to store motor vehicles such as a barn.

9.2.4 What is a scheduled monument?

A scheduled monument is one included in a statutory schedule of monuments of national importance as defined in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 or the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Object (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

You can only zero-rate an approved alteration to a scheduled monument if it is a building that meets the tests at sub-paragraphs 9.1.2 and 9.2.1.

9.3 Is the protected building being ‘altered’?

A building is altered when its fabric, such as its walls, roof, internal surfaces, floors, stairs, windows, doors, plumbing and wiring is changed in a meaningful way.

Alterations carried out for the purposes of repair or maintenance, or any incidental alteration resulting from works of repair or maintenance, are always standard-rated, even if the work has been included in the listed building or scheduled monument consent.

9.3.1 What are works of repair or maintenance?

Works of repair or maintenance are those tasks designed to minimise, for as long as possible, the need for, and future scale and cost of, further attention to the fabric of the building. Changes to the physical features of the building are not zero-rated alterations if, in the exercise of proper repair and maintenance of the building, they are either:

  • trifling or insignificant, or
  • dictated by the nature and use of modern building materials.

Similarly, if the amount of work or cost is significant, that does not make the work a zero-rated alteration if the inherent character of the work is repair and maintenance.

9.3.2 Examples of repair or maintenance work and alterations

The following are examples of repair or maintenance work and alterations. Remember you can only zero-rate alterations when all of the conditions at sub-paragraph 9.1.2 are met.


VAT treatment



Opening/closing doorways


Replacement of rotten wooden windows with UPVC double glazing

Repair or maintenance

Replacement of UPVC double glazing with copies of original wooden windows for aesthetic reasons


Installing a window where one did not exist before


Re-felt and batten roof

Repair or maintenance

Replacement of a flat roof with a pitched roof


Replacement of straw thatch with reeds; and changes to the ridge detail of a thatched roof

Repair or maintenance when carried out as part of the normal renewal programme.

Damp proofing

Repair or maintenance

Making good

Follows the liability of the main work


Repair or maintenance


Repair or maintenance


Repair or maintenance

Extending wiring and plumbing systems


Replacing a boiler with a larger capacity boiler whilst extending plumbing systems


Flood lighting

Alteration when installed on the building. But neither an alteration nor repair or maintenance (and therefore standard-rated) when installed within the grounds of a building – there is no work to the fabric of the building.

9.3.3 Repairs to listed places of worship

The Department of Culture Media and Sport administers a grant scheme for repairs to listed places of worship. The scheme can refund the full amount of VAT spent on eligible repairs, but this will depend on the funds available. Further information on the scheme can be obtained from Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, PO Box 609, Newport, NP10 8QD (Phone: 0845 601 5945) (Website:

9.3.4 Constructing and altering curtilage structures, including walls, fences and railings

Sub-paragraph 9.2.3 explains that approved alterations to existing curtilage structures only qualify for zero-rating when the structure is a protected building.

The construction of a building or structure in the grounds of a protected building is, however, never an alteration of a protected building and is not zero-rated under the rules in this section. Zero-rating may, however, be available under the rules in section 3.

The construction of (and the alteration to) fences, walls and railings (both freestanding and attached to the protected building) and other curtilage structures, such as patios and terraces, are standard-rated.

9.4 Is the alteration ‘approved’?

In most cases an approved alteration is an alteration for which listed building consent is both needed and has been obtained from the appropriate planning authority (or, in some circumstances, the Secretary of State) prior to the commencement of the work. In each case you will need to find out from your customer (or their architect or surveyor) to what extent the work you have been contracted to do has both required and received listed building consent.

If you are working on a church, a building on Crown or Duchy land, or a scheduled monument, you should read sub-paragraphs 9.4.4, 9.4.5 and 9.4.6 respectively.

9.4.1 Listed building consent

Listed building consent is not the same as planning permission. In general terms, listed building consent is needed for work on a listed building which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The construction of an extension, or alterations following partial demolition, would certainly require consent but it is not possible to generalise about less radical work especially as regards internal alterations.

9.4.2 Unauthorised work

If you carry out work to a listed building without obtaining any required listed building consent, you are committing an offence.

The planning authority cannot issue retrospective listed building consent for the work. They may, however, permit you to retain the unauthorised works. Such works are not approved alterations (because consent has not been granted at the time the work is carried out) and are standard-rated.

9.4.3 Listed building enforcement notices

Where works to a listed building are carried out without listed building consent being obtained or which do not comply with a condition in the consent, the local planning authority may issue a ‘listed building enforcement notice’ for the carrying out of further work.

An alteration, which is not work of repair or maintenance – see paragraph 9.3, to the fabric of the building under the terms of an enforcement notice is an approved alteration.

9.4.4 Places of worship and ecclesiastical exemption

Many listed places of worship are not subject to the usual controls over listed buildings. This is known as ecclesiastical exemption and it exempts a place of worship from listed building and conservation area control. It does not exempt the place of worship from being charged VAT on those works.

In England and Wales six Christian denominations have ecclesiastical exemption. They are:

  • the Church of England;
  • the Church in Wales;
  • the Roman Catholic Church;
  • the Methodist Church;
  • the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Baptist Union of Wales; and
  • the United Reformed Church.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, all listed places of worship that are in ecclesiastical use, are exempt from listed building controls, although they are still subject to planning controls.

Any alteration, which is not work of repair or maintenance - see paragraph 9.3 - to the fabric of a listed place of worship that has ecclesiastical exemption, is an approved alteration.

Ecclesiastical exemption does not extend to dwellings occupied by ministers of religion and the normal listed building consent procedure applies.

9.4.5 ‘Crown’ and ‘Duchy’ interest buildings

Listed building consent may not be needed for alterations to buildings on Crown or Duchy land even though it would be needed for similar alterations to listed buildings elsewhere.

In this case, an alteration to the fabric of the building which would otherwise have required consent and which is not work of repair or maintenance - see paragraph 9.3, is an approved alteration.

9.4.6 Scheduled monuments

All works affecting scheduled monuments require scheduled monument consent from the Secretary of State. Approved alterations are those works of alteration for which consent has been obtained.

It is possible for a building to be both scheduled and listed. If so, only scheduled monument procedures apply and it should be treated as a scheduled monument for VAT purposes.

9.5 Are my services made ‘in the course of an approved alteration’ of a protected building?

Your services are supplied ‘in the course of an approved alteration’ of a protected building when you:

  • physically carry out the approved alteration; or
  • provide any other service closely connected to the alteration - the guidance at sub-paragraphs 3.3.4 to 3.3.7 applies in the same way to this section as it does to section 3.

So, even if your work did not require approval - see paragraph 9.4 - it can still be zero-rated provided it is closely connected to an approved alteration. Examples include:

  • preparation work for an approved alteration; or
  • the carrying out of remedial work resulting from an approved alteration.

9.6 Services excluded from zero-rating

9.6.1 Architects, surveyors, consultants and supervisors

The supply of architectural, surveying, consultancy and supervisory services is always standard-rated.

Sub-paragraph 3.4.1 explains when a standard-rated supply takes place under different types of building contract and the treatment of design and build contracts.

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