The construction industry is one of the best problem solvers. It is constantly reviewing the way materials are used, developing new technology to meet spectacular architectural triumphs, and is at the forefront of the UK’s drive towards net zero.
While these activities can feel ‘all in a day’s work’ for those in the industry, many of them qualify as R&D — and are therefore eligible for tax relief.
To celebrate the launch of our special R&D one-pager on innovation funding in the construction industry, we’ve rounded up some of the most trailblazing examples set by our clients.
Here are four ways construction firms can benefit from the R&D tax relief scheme — they could inspire you or help you realise you’re already entitled to R&D tax breaks for work you’ve already done.
Reusing old materials
Making use of existing materials can come with cost and environmental benefits. However, on the face of it, it is not always a practical option as it requires a lot of research before you can develop new products.
However, one firm involved in major road resurfacing schemes in Yorkshire and Northumberland decided to do it anyway.
The company wanted to develop a new way to repair and replace worn-out roads, and do so faster, cheaper and with less impact on the environment. The answer was to find a way to repair and re-lay road surfaces using the existing materials lifted from the ground.
To do this, the company had to solve a number of issues, including developing a new binding agent for the materials that would harden fast and meet UK regulatory requirements. This required a lot of testing, and even the acquisition of specialist tankers to bring the binding agent to site.
In return for this R&D work, the company received £705,000 in tax relief, and made big strides in changing the way our roads are laid.
Design solutions for listed buildings
Renovating a listed building comes with all sorts of hurdles, not least when someone wants to install modern conveniences into a historic structure.
Our client was working on a historic building where they needed to install a lift without causing any alterations to the framework of the building.
This required an advance in steelwork and fabrication technology. In creating a unique and sophisticated internal steel framework for the lift shaft and restoration lift, they also developed a reproducible process for future projects.
They’ve benefited from tax relief to the tune of £328,000.
As technologies improve, attention is also focused on whether safety can be enhanced too. Our client decided to upgrade components installed in houses and apartment blocks that are not expected to come with fire-retardant functionalities.
They improved floorboards by incorporating an internal layer of fire-retardant ‘blanket’ to make them even safer. They also developed joining components to create a whole flooring solution which is much better at fending off fire.
Not content with just floorboards, they also created a lighter-weight fire door which still meets regulations but is much easier for the elderly to move.
They have received a tax benefit of £25,000.
Improving energy efficiency
The construction industry has a big role to play in making the UK’s housing more energy efficient, and this begins with new builds.
While housing developers can often afford to invest money in new materials and technologies, this is not the case for social housing providers. Yet at the same time, they want to provide the best value for money for their tenants.
Enter our client, who developed ways to build energy efficient homes on a budget. Much of their work involves making the eco-friendly Passivhaus standards quicker, easier, and cheaper to achieve.
So far they’ve received over £50,000 and they continue to invest in R&D.