Checklist 7 tips for home construction and renovation

Facts and tips from UBS home ownership experts on construction, restoration and renovation.

by UBS insights 03 Aug 2018

If you have concrete ideas, you can build yourself.

1. Who should I choose to put in charge of the planning?

Hiring an architect to build your house gives you full room to maneuver. An architect is both executor and advisor, and will help you make your dream home a reality. However, as the owner of the building, you’ll need to show interest and have the time. If it’s limited, you can go with a general contractor. They will assume part of the risk and the obligations of a building owner. This isn’t entirely without risk, though, because should the general contractor file for bankruptcy, the owner would be liable for any unpaid bills of the construction workers. It’s up to the owners to secure themselves as far as possible contractually.

2. Can you take the pressure?

Building always comes with surprises. If the builder has accidentally placed the support at the wrong spot or the kitchen can’t be delivered, you’ve got to keep calm. The biggest stumbling block when building is the ownership itself. Many owners realize only after the building shell is complete or the painter has already gone that a wall should be elsewhere or painted a different color. It’s worth leaving enough time to continuously check on the building process as well as planning financial reserves for any unforeseen circumstances.

3. How prefabricated are prefab houses?

Over 80 companies offer prefab houses in Switzerland. Accordingly, the answer to this question is varied. Turnkey houses should cover everything for one price. In the case of assembled houses, manufacturers only send you the building elements. When you buy such a self-assembly kit, you should check what is included and what isn’t. Some-times what is advertised as a turnkey house will not include e.g. flooring, painting or service connections in the price.

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The most frequent and important questions from clients who want to buy property, answered by UBS home ownership experts.

4. How can I avoid nasty surprises?

Building your own house can be tricky business, but buying a house has its own pitfalls. Apart from the danger of missing weak points during inspections, you could be faced with construction defects. Getting an expert involved is not only recommended, it’s almost your duty, especially when you want to buy an older house. But even when you buy a new apartment, things don’t always go as planned. That’s why you should always take a closer look at the seller and the contractual terms and pay close attention during inspections.

5. How sustainable should it be?

Sustainability is an important topic when it comes to construction. Buildings and infrastructure systems make up 40% of global resource consumption. But how sustainable should it be for you? The legislation provides us with part of the answer: all cantons have issued energy requirements. For example, a new building isn’t allowed to have electric boilers. There are many potential energy-saving measures. Financially, though energy-saving measures cost more at the time of building, they are less expensive to operate.

6. Is Minergie compulsory?

No. Minergie is a voluntary construction standard. Key aspects are well-isolated building envelopes, sustainable energy and automatic aeration. This can cut the energy consumption of a building in half compared to a standard construction.

7. Can you save on taxes through renovations?

Buyers of older properties have to set aside more money for renovations and maintenance. But renovations can also reduce the tax burden. The same goes for maintenance costs of newly purchased properties and for expenses on energy-saving measures and environmental protection.