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help needed on run down properties


I have been lucky enough to be left three cottages in a will, built approx 1880. Now they are in bad state of repair last inhabitants were cattle! I have managed to clear them out and fix roofs etc but i was wondering if converting them to eco friendly cottages would differ financially to standard refit. I am in Northern Ireland and i do know our laws differ from the mainland but i need to get rates for the three properties to get three seperate house numbers but they do not have running water, electric or are in any way habitable. Further problem is they are situated very close to bogland...very close in that the bog has been known to rise and flood the cottages, which i know might mean i would get turned down planning permission for the sceptic tanks.

I would appreciate if anyone has done something similar to bend my ear with some advise with this as a newbie to it it all seems a bit daunting, time consuming and expensive!

thanks in advance

G Very Happy

Haven't a clue personally. Jonnyboy built his own house in NI, so he probably knows a bit about the planning side of things. Welcome do downsizer anyway, I'm sure someone more useful will be along soon.

yea i read jonnboys article very informative esp on planning permission which is nightmare we have been turned down numerous times mostly for no natural boundarys, old trick was to set trees round plot to make a natural boundary!
Green Man

OK. Here is the bad news. If you renovate the cottages you will be liable for 17.5% VAT on every screw, nail and slate. If you knock down, and build from new you will be VAT free on everything. So say you are budgeting to spend £150k on doing up the three properties you will be £26,250 better off building new and also have the opportunity to raise them up above floods. If you sell them on as they are now you will be charged 40% Capital Gains Tax on any extra value you get more than they were valued at the time when you inherited. If you do them up and rent them out you will be charged 40% tax on your rental profit, but if you ran a holiday business you would only be taxed 25% on any profit. I believe from an eco point of view that if the walls and roofs are sound , insulating an old house will make it as eco friendly as the many so called eco houses that are all glass and polished concrete. But in this case with the flooding issue and the foolish VAT rules you probably would be better either building new or selling the site and buying what you would really like. Idea

I'll point Gervase, our resident restoration and conservation building expert in your direction. He'll get things started for you.

thanks maybe i am wrong, mostly i am! I thought for building renovations on barns etc they were VAT exempt and this also included renovations on dwellings that havent been lived in since 1973, though again i am more than likely wrong on this!

All the alternatives you have listed are my origial thoughts on the matter, to enable me to sell them as sites would require, to the best of my limited knowlede, rates for each dwelling thereby each one having a house number

They are in nice area for holiday home within 10 miles of the Mournes but more closer to a bog unfortunatley!
Green Man

I didn't know about renovations being VAT free if uninhabited for a long time. That is good if that is the case. Very Happy

On the VAT issue CKR is slightly adrift - If you are converting an agricultural building to residential it's VAT free, if the property has been empty for 10 years it's VAT free and if the work involves a rebuild of more than 60 per cent it's VAT free.
If the place has been empty for more than three years you may qualify for a 12.5 per cent VAT rebate at the end of the conversion.
The rules vary and you need to decide which path you're taking before you take it. Whatever you do decide to do telephone the HMRC helpline on 0845 010 9000. You need to confirm the exact interpretation in relation your circumstances. They are very helpful - so do offer them as much information as you can which you think will benefit you. It does help to be primed with the outlines of any schemes you may think appropriate first to assist them point you in the right direction. They will send you out the following documents which take a bit of understanding but again if you are unclear when trying to interpret them call the advice line and discuss it with them:
Notice 708 Buildings and construction
Notice 719 VAT refunds for ‘do it yourself builders and converters’
Notice 742 Land and property
You can also download these from the MHRC website.

Now the bad news - renovating ecologically is probably going to be more expensive than using standar building methods. The materials generally cost more, and the labour is often more expensive as most jobbing builders run a mile from such stuff. That said there are small specialist companies (like mine - blatant plug!) that don't charge the earth. The ore work you can do yourself, the cheaper it will be, but whatever your plans, double both the cost and the time estimates right now!

You may have problems with building control and planning if the septic tanks are liable to flooding - this is something you would need to discuss on site with an engineer.

Ive been looking for the site where i read that but cant find it! Problem with surfing and not bookmarking! But think its from 1 April 1973 mind you i would ask with HMRC first before embarking on anything!

Thanks Mary Jane will look forward to Gervases thoughts on matter

thanks gervase i posted same time as you there! I put the picture in and as you can see its quite a job ahead, major problems with damp and running electric to it, mains for electric and water being about half a mile away.

Is there still a way of getting planning permission granted not on the site, think it was known as a rellocation grant but again im unsure about that, dug from the vaults of memory which have been clouded with the years!

Poor wee doggy!

Hiya, welcome to downsizer. What sort of conversations have you had with the planning authority? I know of a few places nearby which have been passed as replcement dwellings rather than new sites. Despite the clampdown on greenbelt building?

Hi jonnyboy thanks

We have got turned down twice due to no natural boundaries and once as to close to an existing dwelling on sites put forward. But on the site we wanted which was denied due to being close to exisiting building the guy in that house got planning permission in field next to our proposed site so guess he got there first

It might be worth asking for an informal site visit with a local planning officer, to get an idea of what they might pass.
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