When shopping around for quotes ask trades if they are VAT registered, if not they will not be adding 20% to their invoices which gives you a saving straight away.
Look for Government grants or services which attract VAT discounts, a good example is insulation.
If you are self building you will be able to claim the VAT on materials you have bought and you have been charged VAT on, back - but only once! Keep an organised filing system and don't claim until the very end of the build. Once you have claimed you can not claim again if you find a wedge of invoices you didn't include. Also remember you must have the original receipt, you can not use photocopies and the receipt must be legible, if its faded, ripped to obscure the details etc you can not use it. Look after your receipts!
Make sure you check your receipts at the time of purchase and ensure they clearly identify the VAT, if they don't ask for a VAT receipt.
You can claim the VAT back on anything that forms part of the structure of the building but not for those items which don't - i.e. fitted furniture, electrical appliances, carpets, tools, equipment and the land itself.
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