Building a house with good planning. Seven key points.
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Building a house with good planning. Seven key points.

Many people dream of building a house from the ground up, and today there are many options, from prefabricated houses to solid concrete single family dwellings. Find out which important points you need to consider when you want to build your own home.

1. Finding a plot for the single family dwelling

Probably the biggest hurdle when building a house in Switzerland is finding a suitable plot of land to build on. Some people are lucky enough to have land to build on in the family. Perhaps the plot on which their parents' house stands has enough space for another family home.

Otherwise, undeveloped land is usually only found in rural areas, outside of the larger, central urban areas. In central locations, land has already been built on several times over. There, the only option for acquiring building land is to buy an old building, demolish it, and then build a new one.

2.    Building a house with a construction loan

In most cases it is not possible to build a house without the help of debt financing. However, instead of taking out a mortgage like when buying a house, people wanting to build a house take out a construction loan. This is more flexible than a mortgage. With a construction loan, unlike the fixed amount of a mortgage, only a limit is defined. When that is exhausted, ongoing bills can simply be paid with credit.

The construction loan can later be converted into a mortgage. This is possible starting from a tranche of CHF 100,000. The interest for the construction loan is somewhat higher than for a mortgage, but only applies for the actual amount used, and not for the entire credit line.

3.    Getting a plot of land for the family home

An important requirement for being allowed to build a house is getting the plot of land. A building permit is only granted if the entrance is sufficiently wide. Access must also be ensured for public services such as garbage collection, ambulances, and the fire brigade. If access is through a neighboring property, the relevant easements must be agreed to and entered into the land records.

The connection to the public road, and connections for water, waste water, and electricity must also be considered. For building zones, the municipality is generally responsible for development outside of the property. However, the builder-owner must take care of the inner development within the parcel.

4.    Building your own home: Prefabricated versus conventional house

The options for building your own family home are much more diverse than they were a few years ago. The traditional solid house made of concrete certainly has its benefits. However, houses made of wood, as well as prefabricated houses, are becoming ever more popular.

A ready-made house comprised of prefabricated modules is not only built faster, it can soon also be as individually designed as a conventional house. People wishing to build a prefabricated house in Switzerland can now choose from many options and turn the building into their personal dream house according to their own wishes.

5.    Building a house in Switzerland requires good planning

Regardless of whether it will be a prefabricated house or a house designed by an architect, planning is essential and takes time. It is important to know and comply with the building regulations: How tall can the building be in the relevant building zone? How close to the neighboring property can you build? Are there regulations governing the facade or roof?

Once the plans have been made, in Switzerland, a planning application needs to be submitted. There could be objections that can delay the new build. Corresponding changes may need to be made to the family house. Construction work can only begin once a building permit has been granted for the new build.

6. Building your own home with the right insurance coverage

Building a house never goes smoothly. For example, a ladder can fall during construction and scratch the window panes, or thieves can steal construction materials. That is why it is worth hedging against possible construction risks with contract works insurance. Construction period insurance is mandatory in most cantons. It insures new builds against damage caused by fire and natural forces, in a similar way to buildings insurance for existing buildings.

Since the builder-owner is also liable for damage to third parties, builder's liability insurance with high enough coverage should also be taken out. In some cases, other insurance policies such as guarantee insurance or legal expenses insurance may be worthwhile.

7. Building a house and moving in – these guarantee periods apply in Switzerland

Of course it takes time to build a family home. Depending on whether a prefabricated house or a conventional house is being built, the actual house construction can take several months to a year, or longer, from the groundbreaking to the handover of keys.

Construction of the house is not entirely complete when the keys are handed over, either. It is important to carry out a proper building inspection, where you can immediately lodge complaints for visible faults in the construction. Complaints for newly occurring, open faults can be lodged up to two years after the building inspection. For hidden faults, the guarantee period according to the Swiss Code of Obligations is five years. It is essential that faults be reported immediately and in writing.

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