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Building Your Own Home

Switzerland - Building Your Own Home


If you have found a plot on which you intend to build your own house, first ensure that it can be sold to you as residential land. Although you may be able to obtain authorisation to buy agricultural land, you will first have to satisfy the authorities that you can care for it, and will not be able to erect residential buildings on it. Another option is to buy land with a derelict building that you can either convert or pull down in order to build in its place, but again ensure this is permissible.

You should work with an architect, who should be knowledgeable not only in what can be built with your budget but also what procedures will need to be followed. He or she will draw up a schedule and final plan for your project, at which point you will be able to apply to the local Planning Office (Bauamt) to obtain a building permit (G: Baugenehmigung, F: Permis de construire). Allow 3 months for this.

While this is underway, you will also need to enter into discussions with your bank over obtaining a mortgage to fund the project. Once you have been granted the planning permission you can decide whether to appoint a general contractor who will take care of sub-contracting or can begin obtaining quotes yourself for different aspects of the work. You can hire a project manager to oversee construction if you wish. It is also advisable to have a legal professional look over your construction contract, paying particular attentions to costs, deadlines and terms of payment, and build standards.

You should typically allow 5-8 months for your house to be built and you will have to visit the site fairly often to check progress, make decisions and keep things on track. Once a house building project is complete, there are an additional six months in which any defects or sub-standard work must be resolved by the relevant contractors.

You can buy kit homes (schlüsselfertig) in Switzerland but beware of hidden costs that can push the price-to-build far beyond the advertised price. These will include connections for utilities, landscaping, and dealing with any non-standard plot conditions, plus upgrades to the standard fittings. You will have a warranty with a kit home for visible and non-visible defects.

There are building regulations in place in Switzerland that are enforced at a cantonal level. The Swiss Association of Engineer and Architects (G: Schweizerischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein, F: Société suisse des ingénieurs et des architectes), known as SIA, set the standards for build design and construction. Although there are directories of architects in Switzerland available online, you will find word-of-mouth recommendations valuable if you can obtain any. Expat forums such as englishforum.ch can be a place to start. As in any country, you need to find an architect with whom you can build a good working relationship. Not every architect will respect your budget and some have been reported to be not sufficiently informed on planning and building regulations. One tip is to correspond with your architect in writing whenever changes are required to ensure they are put into practice. Also have a clear understanding of what your position will be if forced to cancel the contract, as your architect will be basing fees on a projection of the final cost.


Useful Resources

SIA
http://www.sia.ch/

Suche.ch: Architekt
Online directory of architects in German-speaking Switzerland
http://www.suche.ch/info/architekt/

Architectes.ch
Online directory of architects in French-speaking Switzerland
http://www.architectes.ch/

StellaHaus
Kits for self-build houses in Switzerland
http://stellahaus.ch/
StellaHAUS AG, Aarauerstrasse 25, CH 5600 Lenzburg
Tel: +41 (0)62 886 00 20
Email: info@stellahaus.ch

SwissHaus
Kits for self-build houses in Switzerland, in wood or stone
http://www.swisshaus.ch/
SWISSHAUS AG, St. Jakob Strasse 21, CH 9004 St. Gallen
Tel: +41 (0)71 242 63 30
Email: info@swisshaus.ch


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