With Council Tax however, you do have the ability to appeal the banding your home has been given, and thus the amount you pay.
When we built our current house in 2010, I arranged for the district assessor to come out just prior to completion, so that by the time I had my completion certificate and would be liable to pay, everything would be arranged and I wouldn't be hit with a large back payment.
The assessor duly came out, had a look round and measured the exterior footprint. I subsequently got my banding back - F. As my house had an internal footprint of 130m2, I felt this was too high and decided to appeal.
This process is free and open to anyone, however you have to recognise that nobody will volunteer help or assistance and that it is up to you as the person appealing to produce the evidence required. I was perhaps a little fortunate in that a relative was at the time, chair of the local valuation appeals committee, and was thus a useful source of advice and anecdotal information.
The most helpful advice was what would be required for a successful appeal - evidence of comparable dwellings at the band I thought my house should be. Sadly, the majority of appeals are unsuccessful, primarily because those appealing do not present evidence or arguments to support their claim.
I began by requesting banding information for a number of local houses in the area, some smaller, some bigger and crucially, those I thought were of a similar size. The assessors office are obliged to provide this information but will not volunteer it.
The basis of my appeal was that by measuring the external footprint of the house, the assessor had not taken into account the fact that the depth of my walls were 100mm greater than other houses in the local area (those built in the 1990s using a 90mm timber frame, 50 mm cavity, 100mm block leaf as opposed to my 190mm frame 50 mm cavity, 100mm block leaf), and had thus overvalued my house as such frames depths were simply not used at the point of valuation benchmark (1991).
Whilst the 100mm difference doesn't sound much in of itself, it does actually make a significant difference to your external footprint, especially as in the case of my house which is effectively made of three rectangles joined together as opposed to other local houses which were simple single rectangles.
I therefore submitted drawings (building outlines hand drawn on graph paper) showing the reduction in the external footprint based on my house having a 90mm frame, and the reduction showing my house with a 90mm frame and a simple rectangle shape.
From the information provided by the assessors office, I then compared these lower external footprints to that of neighbouring houses, highlighting to the assessor that by comparing my house on a like for like basis (90mm frame) it had a lower external footprint than several neighbouring houses which were band E.
It took a long time, and I was asked to submit details of the building system / copies of building warrant plans to show the build make up of my wall, but 18 months on (after a bit of chasing) I received a letter from the assessors office advising me that my they were altering the banding for my house from F down to E. 18 months of over-payment refunded and I save myself £300 a year in council tax and water charges.
My case did not go to the appeals committee - my relative suggested that this was to avoid the assessor losing a case and providing precedent for others.
So, to sum up, it is worth at least some basic investigation to confirm whether you are in the right band as the savings do add up year on year.
Edited by joiner, 26 January 2015 - 06:14 PM.