In Cube Construction (Southern) Ltd v HMRC [2019] TC07030, the FTT considered whether certain works to the roof, re-wiring, and doors of a listed building damaged by fire and rebuilt were alterations or repairs or incidental to repairs.

The taxpayer appealed against a decision by HMRC to make assessments for wrongly zero rating the construction work for periods ending 06/11, 09/11, 12/11, 05/12 and 05/14. 

  • Prior to 1 October 2012 work undertaken in the course of an approved alteration to a protected building (but not repairs and maintenance work) was zero-rated.
  • The listed property had suffered severe fire and smoke damage which included the entire roof and the majority of the internal structural timber.
  • The remedial work to fully reinstate the property to its pre-fire condition was approved by the local council and the taxpayer was convinced zero rating applied.

The tribunal concluded that most of the work should be zero-rated including all the works to the roof works and doors. Turning to re-wiring, the tribunal concluded that it was rather artificial to split the costs up between alterations and repairs, but an apportionment of 75% of the work was to be zero-rated, and the remainder standard rated.


The rules changed as noted, and there were some transitional provisions, as detailed in our VAT and Land & Property note. The taxpayer was careful to provide detailed evidence and coloured photographs which may well have assisted its case.

During enquiries HMRC's officer had also accused the company's director of deliberate mis-conduct, in making the claim for zero-rating when uncertain about VAT treatment. The Tribunal noted that that HMRC had dropped this point in its statement of case.

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Cube Construction (Southern) Ltd v HMRC [2019] TC07030