Help-to-buy rules for self-build projects

Q&A: Dominic Coyle answers your personal finance questions

Almost all self-builds involve the applicants project managing the job but relying on skilled tradespeople to carry out much, if not all, the work. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Almost all self-builds involve the applicants project managing the job but relying on skilled tradespeople to carry out much, if not all, the work. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 

In a piece you wrote in January last year, you said that a self build application does not need a builder from the Revenue approved contractors list. I’m a first time buyer/builder. Do you know is this still the case?

Mr S.D., email

This has always been one of the anomalies in the Help-to-Buy scheme and I must admit I am somewhat surprised that it has been neither clarified nor amended since we first raised it back in 2017.

The Help-to-Buy scheme was and is designed to ensure that first-time buyers have a modest incentive to get them on the housing ladder. It simultaneously sought to incentivise builders to construct more homes at a time when supply was a critical issue in the market.

The pinch for the buyer was that they were limited to buying a newly-built property when they might get a similar sized property for less on the secondhand market.

The scheme is fairly tightly constrained and not just because the Government wanted to make sure there was not a free-for-all accessing loopholes at a time we were still recovering from the financial crash. They were also looking to make sure that contractors tempted to offer properties under the scheme were tax registered and compliant.

That’s why, when you go through the legislation, there are very precise particulars required both from buyers but also from contractors who build the homes.

The odd thing then is that when you go through the sections related to people who are self-building their homes, there is no reference to contractors – even though, in the real world, there are remarkably few people who would be building their homes themselves from scratch.

Almost all self-builds involve the applicants project managing the job but relying on skilled tradespeople to carry out much, if not all, the work.

The rules have not been changed since I last wrote about this in 2018 so, if you are thinking of going self-build, it appears you do not have to worry about a contractor.

Having said that, if someone simply applied as a self-build and handed the whole project over to a contractor to manage from start to finish, it would not surprise me if Revenue went to try and make an example of them.

The one critical thing is that you apply in time to draw down the first tranche of any loan to fund the self-build by December 31st of this year. If you miss that deadline, you will fall outside the remit of the scheme as it is currently formed.

Of course, if you are buying a new home already built, the contractor will need to be on the list and you will need to have exchanged contracts with them before the end-year deadline.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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