There are growing calls for the government to rethink how it charges VAT on building repairs and alterations.

Architects’ Journal reported that many in the architecture and construction sectors believe the current system of VAT charging is unfair, because many new construction projects are VAT exempt while repair work is liable for the tax.

It’s an issue that goes back decades, but now there are renewed calls for the government to address the disparity.

Malcolm Fraser, of Malcolm Fraser Architects, told the publication that the current system doesn’t really make sense. “The net effect is very significant economic leverage that encourages the replacement, rather than repair, of our existing building stock,” he asserted.

And he’s not alone in believing that this issue needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Head of policy and public affairs at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Andrew Forth agrees.

He explained that it’s essential to carry out significantly more retrofitting activity if RIBA’s 2030 Challenge sustainability targets are to be met.

Architects’ Journal is even running a campaign, RetroFirst, to encourage the government to address the issue. The publication argues that there are significant environmental benefits to “reducing the amount of embodied carbon required for new buildings and avoiding wasted resources from demolishing old ones”.

One of the keys to maintaining more buildings is ensuring that repair work is identified early, before the costs become too onerous.

Last month, an article for Insider.co.uk highlighted the importance of regular surveys for old buildings, pointing to one example where a church was able to avoid timber rot after a failing lead roof covering was found during a survey.

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