Key information on the building and buying phase.

To make sure that nothing goes wrong when building or buying your own home, it’s important to keep in mind several key points and to clarify questions in advance. Our experienced advisors will be happy to support you at the planning stage so that you can realize your project with confidence.

There are a number of key points to note when building or buying your own home. Our experienced advisors will be happy to support you so that you can steer clear of inconvenience and unnecessary costs.

You should take note of the following points:

  • Contact the land registry for a full extract from the land register, including details of all the easements, charges over property (servitudes) and notes. Please note: you cannot claim ignorance of the fact that there is an entry in the land register.
  • Clarify the extent to which the property is developed (roads, supply lines, electricity, water, gas, waste water, etc.) and the condition of the soil (exercise caution with regard to contaminated sites).
  • Make sure that the property purchase contract provides for assurance on real estate transfer tax and real estate gains tax as well as the relevant fees. Cantons and municipalities generally have a legal right of lien over the property in relation to such duties.
  • Ownership is not definitively transferred until an entry is made in the land register. Certification alone is not sufficient.
  • The law gives you two options if you are buying the property together with other persons: collective ownership or joint ownership. You should seek legal advice on this.

  • To ensure that your architect has a clear starting point, you should provide him or her with written job specifications in as much detail as possible, making clear beyond a doubt the maximum permitted cost of construction.
  • In individual housebuilding projects, planning generally entails costs from the first draft onward. Agree on separate prices with your architect for the preliminary project, the construction project up to and including the construction permit and the building work, and reserve the right to exit after each phase without incurring additional costs (conclude separate stages).
  • A detailed description of the construction work and the quotation form a key basis for deciding whether or not to go ahead with the project.
  • A detailed building program must be prepared for execution of the construction work. The deadlines detailed in the program form the basis for scheduling.
  • For offers from prefabricated house manufacturers or general contractors, you should ask for a written confirmation of the changes (including additional fees), additions, ancillary costs, fees, etc, that you desire. Only then will the actual purchase price be known.

  • Choose reliable partners (contractors, tradespeople, etc.) to work with you in realizing your building project.
  • Check the bids for completeness and accuracy.
  • Compare the offers in detail and decide on the best – as opposed to simply the cheapest – bid.
  • The  Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) and the Association of Swiss General Contractors (VSGU) can provide sample contracts, general terms and conditions, standards and recommendations that can be used as the basis for contracts.
  • Contractors and tradespeople have a legal right of lien over a building site in the event that they are not paid. In particular, this risk applies to projects involving general contractors. You should therefore ask for references.
  • The acceptance inspection or handover of the residential property should be based on a joint inspection and a report signed by all parties in the form of an inventory of defects.
  • During the agreed guarantee period (pursuant to SIA and VGSU norms: two years for visible and five years for concealed defects), contractors and tradespeople are obligated to rectify defects.
  • When buying a residence ready for occupancy, you should have the vendor assign the guarantee claims against tradespeople and suppliers to you. If you fail to do so, you might be liable for the costs in the event of claims that would otherwise be covered by the guarantee.
  • Make sure that the architect only invites qualified engineers, contractors and tradespeople to submit bids. In addition, try to obtain multiple bids to make a value-for-money comparison for the work to be carried out in each area.
  • Document the construction process as thoroughly as possible (for example using photos, sketches, notes, etc.). Discuss any problems with the architect.
  • You should schedule regular meetings with your architect for updates, coordination and the decisions to be taken. The decisions reached and other important matters should be recorded in writing.
  • Should you notice any defects or irregularities, you are advised to raise them with the architect rather than the contractors or tradespeople. You should certainly raise objections if there are defects such as damp walls or cracks in the masonry, as these could lead to more serious problems later on.
  • Don’t let yourself be pressured at the building acceptance inspection or handover of the property. It takes time to complete a thorough and careful inspection and inventory of defects.

  • Ensure that you have all the documentation (plans, guarantee certificates, etc.)
  • Check of dimensions and invoices
  • Settle additional building and administration work, verify payment

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