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Building vs. buying a house – these five questions help when making a decision

Building your own dream home – a childhood dream of many Swiss people. There are some arguments in favor of building a new house, but some against it too. The following five questions will help you to find out if it would be better for you to build a new house or to buy an existing one.

Is building land still available at your chosen location?

Where would you like your future home to be? In a central location, or maybe a more rural one? Whether you can build a house at all or whether you have to buy one essentially depends on this question. Because building land in Switzerland is scarce, especially in sought-after locations.

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to purchase vacant building land in city centers. And if land is available, it will need a correspondingly large budget to fund it. So, if you want to live in a central location, it is usually better to buy an existing house. The situation is slightly different in the countryside, where reserves of building land are still available. But building land does not come cheap there either.

How big is your budget?

It is not only in the case of land that the size of your budget is decisive. Building a house from scratch is more expensive than buying one. However, the high one-off investment can pay off later. Because, with a new build, you do not incur any costs for alterations or renovations in the first few years. Everything is state of the art.

If you buy a house, you will soon need to do some renovations or alterations depending on the age of the building and your personal needs. That should also be budgeted for. In particular, you should take into account the fact that not all investments in an old building add value to the property. Many measures merely maintain the value and do not lead to a higher resale value at a later date.

Does decision-making represent a freedom or an obligation for you?

Building a house sounds attractive. Putting all sorts of ideas into practice, planning the building from scratch: layout, materials, specifying the kitchen and bathroom yourself… for many people, that is a dream – but in reality it is often stressful. Because countless decisions have to be made with a new build. You should be prepared for that if you want to build a house.

By contrast, people who buy a house obtain a finished property. Changes can be made to it but the basic structure is fixed. You can also view a house before purchasing it. When viewing the property, you can see whether the layout and the ambience really appeal to you, and you do not have to rely on your powers of imagination and visualization as you do with a new build.

When do you want to move into your new home?

People who buy a house can generally move in quite soon. That is not the case if you build a house. It takes time to build a new property. The parcel of land possibly needs to be prepared for building before construction work can begin. And even with pre-fabricated houses the lead time can be long.

Apart from the time needed for planning and construction, the demands on your own time should not be underestimated. Discussions with architects or builders, the selection of building systems and materials, and bureaucratic hurdles all take time and require dedication.

How important is ecological living to you?

One factor that is often ignored when deciding whether to build or buy is energy efficiency. A new house can take advantage of the latest ecological possibilities. For example, you could include a wood-pellet heating system or a solar energy system at the building stage. As a result, the costs for heating and energy will be lower than for an older building.

An older house can also be made more energy efficient. However, the possibilities are limited. For example, it is difficult to install a heat pump retrospectively, and insulating the façade of a house may change its appearance. In addition, renovation of an older property often involves hidden costs.

Do you want to build or buy a house?

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