As Glasgow gears up to host COP26, The London Energy Transformation Initiative retrofit guide outlines the steps that could be taken to make existing domestic buildings net-zero. With the report stating that 80% of homes that will be built by 2050 have already been constructed, and 18% of the UK's annual carbon emissions comes from existing homes, clearly action is required if the "net zero by 2050" target is to be met. 

I am all for taking the appropriate steps to move my house towards being a net-zero contributor, steps I must confess seem quite challenging looking at today's options for refurbishment and renovation. 

One question I frequently get asked is "why is there less VAT cost to demolish and existing house and rebuild it, rather than trying to refurbish or retrofit an existing building?". Well, when the VAT law was drafted the UK government settled on new housing as being the beneficiary of the zero-rate of VAT, and it remains a welcome benefit to the housing sector. Unfortunately repair and renewal of existing property was largely left out of the zero and reduced rates of VAT. 

Could the government use this week's Budget to support the net zero ambition by creating a widely available reduced (or zero) rate for refurbishment and retro-fitting of existing homes to make them carbon neutral?

Whilst this would be a laudable commitment that would support the move to net zero, it's unlikely to happen when the government is perhaps looking to plug some funding gaps following the sizeable commitments made during the pandemic. I'd be delighted to be wrong on this point!