VAT on Conservatories

VAT on Conservatories in Cumbria

A common question we are asked from prospective Conservatory customers who are buying a new build property from a housing developer, renovating their own property, or converting a barn is:

Do we need to pay VAT on Conservatories?

In simple terms – the vast majority of conservatories built DO attract VAT at the current rate of 20% …. HOWEVER, there are a few exceptions – including if the Conservatory is built at the same time as a new dwelling.

There are a few misconceptions out there combined with a large amount of misinformation on the internet so we have decided to write this article. The following explanations will show how different VAT rates are applied when certain conditions are met. This information will be of use to anyone considering a new build house move or renovation project in the near future.

VAT on Conservatories for New Build properties

Currently, all new build properties are ZERO rated for VAT in the UK.

If you are planning to buy a new build property or build your own new house, try to include a conservatory in the plans and it will be ZERO rated.

Further to this, if your new home is under construction, you may still be able to add a conservatory to the plans and avoid VAT – If the new conservatory is added on to the approved plans and is constructed immediately following construction of the new home (you will need to check that permitted development rights have not been removed. Ask your housing developer or architect to confirm this for you).

It may not be possible to add a new conservatory to the original plans, this may not be a problem! If the projection of the new conservatory does not exceed 4 meters on a detached property or 3 meters on a semi detached property then this would be allowed under the Permitted Development ruling. Therefore if the conservatory is built during or immediately after construction of the new dwelling then it will also be ZERO rated for VAT! Most conservatories we sell to customers do not require planning permission (see our Guide to Planning Permission blog for further details on this).

The key word is ‘IMMEDIATELY’ – if work is not commenced immediately (and finished to a conclusion without a break) after the new dwelling is constructed, then the conservatory or extension will be treated as standard VAT rated, even if the work is all carried out prior to moving in.  In cases where only the footings of a conservatory are constructed then only the footings can be treated as zero-rated.

In the past, UK property owners were able to claim zero-rated VAT on conservatories that were added onto a completed property as long as they hadn’t moved in, but this is no longer the case unless the conservatory is built at the same time as the new dwelling or immediately after it has been built.

VAT on conservatories for empty residential properties

If you would like to add a conservatory to a property that has been uninhabited for two or more years then it will qualify for a reduced VAT rate of 5% if the following applies:

The property is being renovated as a single residential dwelling.

You must have documentary evidence which proves that the property was unoccupied for two years – your local authority should be able to provide proof of this.

Prior to commencing any construction work, it is also important to check with your local VAT office to ensure that the 5% rate applies to your property.

VAT on conservatories for barn conversions

We are seeing an increasing amount of barn conversions in West Cumbria, getting planning approval for a conservatory can be difficult especially if the barn is a listed building. Our advice is to check with your Architect or Designer and the Local Authority what design, style or size is acceptable for this property type.

If you would like to add a conservatory to a barn conversion or other agricultural building the following rules apply:

If the barn hasn’t been lived in for the last 2 years or and is being converted from an agricultural building to a residential property for the first time then you may be eligible for a VAT rate of 5%.

If the barn has been lived in and not been unoccupied for two or more years, conservatories are subject to the standard VAT rate of 20%.

Need more information or advice?

All of the information provided in this article is for guidance only and relevant at the time of writing only (September 2017).  If you need help with any financial matters, you should always seek independent professional advice.

Before building any Conservatory, it is always a good idea to check with your local Building Authority to see if planning consent is required, alternatively, a phone call to Cumberland Windows would give you a firm steer. We deal with planning proposals on a regular basis and will be more than happy to help you through the whole process.

If you want the new Conservatory to qualify for ZERO rated VAT, it is also a good idea to tell your Conservatory designer and installer of your intentions so they have plenty of time to work closely with your Architect or Builder.  If you are in any doubt about which VAT will apply, contact your local VAT inspector.

Here at Cumberland Windows, we have constructed many ZERO rate VAT Conservatory installations so call us on 01946 823823 or contact us via the website for our best interpretation of the current rules and we will endeavour to provide all the information you need to legitimately avoid paying the VAT, which is the equivalent of a 20% reduction on a best price first time guaranteed Conservatory from us.

Cumbrian Housing Targets

Did you know that there are ambitious plans to build over 20,000 new homes in Cumbria over the next 15 years? That’s almost 1,400 per year! A recent article in the News and Star highlighted the huge growth potential in Cumbria, particularly on the back of nuclear new build, but also in Carlisle with the Enterprise Zone and airport expansion.

The housing boom will see new estates approved in Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland and Eden as developers such as Storys, Thomas Armstrong and Lattimers snap up sites. Councils across these areas have set themselves targets in a bid to help address a national housing shortage.

As Cumberland Windows are exclusive to West Cumbria, for the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on the Copeland and Allerdale statistics.


Predicting a total of 4,150 new homes over the next 15 years Annual target of 300

Across the district, 150 hectares of land are identified for housing.


Predicting a total of 5,741 between 2011 and 2029

Annual average of 304

That’s 10,000 new builds in West Cumbria

If you see yourself as a potential owner of one of these new homes, considering a Conservatory during the planning or construction phase could save you thousands.


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