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Old 10.05.2011, 00:19
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Extending a house

Anyone here have experience of extending a house? Aside from the fact that it would probably require an arm and a leg. I was wondering with Swiss legalities and neighbourhood politics, whether it is actually possible in practice?
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Old 10.05.2011, 00:34
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Re: Extending a house

Anything to do with changing the look of the house that can be seen from the outside would need to have a permit from the building authority (Bauamt). Usually the secretary for the Bauamt for your Gemeinde should be very helpful. They can give you a very good indication (95%) before you submit your proposal if the Bauamt will approve it or not. It might be worth just swiningg by and talking to them about your ideas and see what they say.

I am thinking of doing the same thing and it is helpful if you get a good architect that charges by the hour that can help you answer a few simple questions on rules and regulations. Try to get one from your area as they would also be familiar with the zoning laws as well, which you can find in your grundbuch info.

Usually, if you are within the regulations for your zoning law, then neighbors approval is not necessary, just the bauamt. If you want to do something that is not within regulations but makes sense for your house you can still get approval but it will require approval of the neighbor (a friend wanted to build another floor/story onto his house and keep the concept of the flat roof that he currently has. According to the current rules, he could not have the flat roof on the new floor unless he got sign off from the neighbors -which he got and the bauamt approved as it was the original design of his house, was with the flat roof).

A good architect can also give you some indication of potential price, and can do the detail drawing of the documents needed to apply for bautamt permission.

Good luck!
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Old 10.05.2011, 00:39
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Re: Extending a house

Most houses have a reserve that you can extend living space into, some may have already used this all up. They will also have a percentage of land you can build on listed in the Grundbuch and the town plan will show how many stories up you can build to. These can change, and we have had an extra floor added to an apartment block near us and the building density rules change too, so developers may wait to take maximum advantage of this. Your Grundbuchauszug should show all your boundary and height restrictions around your plot. Ours has a 12m boundary rule and an old house next to us is closer, but allowed since it was there first. Additionally, your house may be covered under a local area plan or Bebauungsplan (sp?).

We went through getting permission to extend up a floor. It was written we had permission in the plan of the development. I doubted if we could when we bought the house, but now 2 neighbours have done it, so I don't need to worry about loosing that permission. We don't need the extra space right now and we love the area as a big roof terrace with nice views.

Expensive? Well..our neighbours used a helicopter to fly in windows and take rubble away. That's got be expensive to justify that.

The people at the Bauamt were really helpful and even gave me drawings from when our house was built. I would recommend speaking to them first. Make an appointment and see the person in charge for your area.

Last edited by CH_Me; 10.05.2011 at 00:53.
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Old 10.05.2011, 00:47
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Re: Extending a house

There is no ONE answer to your question, each case has to be evaluated on an individual basis... it depends on the property and the planning laws that apply to your particular house, but it is something that can often be done with certain restrictions. You can personally inquire through your local planning office, or you can contact an architect and he/she can look into it for you. I'm and architect, but I would need the property's details to look into it... where are you located?
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Old 10.05.2011, 01:05
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Re: Extending a house

Thanks all for the advice. I'm currently looking at buying a place near Schaffhausen and while it is big enough for me at the moment, I wanted to understand the expansion possibilities.
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Old 10.05.2011, 01:14
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Re: Extending a house

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...and while it is big enough for me at the moment, I wanted to understand the expansion possibilities.
Said the Actress to the Bishop...
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Old 10.05.2011, 08:24
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Re: Extending a house

Whether one can expand living space or not depends on so many factors.

The reserve ratiothat MarieZug mentioned, meaning that the total volume of the building may not exceed a certain portion of the total land, varies as well. I have seen anything from 15% to 40%.

In addition to the Ausnutzsreserve for your parcel, there may be an over-all reserve for the neighborhood.

There is a 25 or 30% - can't remember off-hand - reserve on our property. No problem, we thought - our house is well under that, we should be able to expand by some 50qm.

Unfortuantely, our neighbors got to the Bauamt before we did. They somehow managed to get permission to build a Wintergarten that exceeded their own Ausnutzsreserve - and used up the 'free' reserve for the whole Quartier - meaning that no one else may build, even though one's own property may technically still have building space left.

The Wohnzone will affect what you can, or cannot do: W1 is one story above ground, W2 is two, W3 is 3 - regardless of the Reserve, you cannot build higher than the zone allows.

If you have a stream running through or bordering the property, if you border a nature conservancy zone, if your border the Landwirtschaft zone, you will have other restrictions. And if you are in the Landwirtschaft zone you will have even more.

Neighbors can object to your plans - so stock up on good wine, throw an appero, make friends. We still don't have a garden shed, because one neighbor, while he thinks that a shed is a good idea, does not want to give up his right to put in an objection, on principle.

Another thing I've seen: I was just about to make an offer on an interesting property - too small, but one that alledgedly had a good-sized Reserve. However, when digging deeper, it seemed that back in the '50s before things were so strict the then owners had added on to the property, this was not registered with the Bauamt. So the reserve was based on the property as it stood 60 years ago - not today. In actuality, the reserve had been exceeded with that old renovation, and a new house would have to be built smaller.

My 5Rp: Sit down with the Bauamt, show any theoretical ideas and discuss what can and cannot be done before you even think about making an offer. Then get everything in writing, signed by the responsible official. (BTW, this happened to us - we had confirmation that an extension would be possible - but we had this from the wrong bureaucracy. So - ask directly if the person/office you are speaking to is 'zustandig'.

If you are satisfied with the property as is, you don't have that much to worry about. But if you would only be interested if you could expand - then you need to do a lot of homework. It would be best to hire an architect to do a feasibility study - should cost less than 5000 for something rough. If this is a little village like mine, hire the architect who is the head of the Bauamt's brother-in-law.

Good luck!
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Old 10.05.2011, 08:42
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Re: Extending a house

I second the replies of Melloncollie and MarieZug.

Speak with the Bauamt or the Notariat before buying it.
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Old 10.05.2011, 10:07
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Re: Extending a house

*grumpy architect jumps into the conversation*

First thing first: don't do ANYTHING structural without a permit. Apart from the fact you might throw down the wrong wall, you might get into trouble if you try to sell the house or some nasty neighbour says something (unfortunately nasty neighbours pop like poisonous mushrooms everywhere).

To know what you can do in your specific house, you need to know the rules that apply to it: which construction zone it is, if it has some water/ nature protection, the regular rules of building distance to neighbour grounds (might go up to 8 meters). If you live in Zürich you can check this very useful site:

http://www.are.zh.ch/internet/baudir...s-zentrum.html

browser

http://www.gis.zh.ch/gb4/bluevari/gb...&Massstab=9760

If you do ANYTHING outside your building, even if according to the rules, you have to notice the community. This includes placing sticks with the height and contour of the intended extension. Neighbours have the possibility of complaining during a period of time (varies), and if they want, they can cause you a very big headache, even if you are within the law. I usually say in terms of architecture, this country is far TOO democratic.

As everyone said: check your Gemeinde. If you do not live in Rapperswil, they should be nice enough. They might not speak English though. The most important thing: rules change almost every 10 kms, so you really have to check case by case, Gemeinde by Gemeinde, Kanton by Kanton.

As an architect, I must suggest asking advice from an architect. The architect will check all the rules, provide you with explanations and give you some ideas for the extension. You will have to pay for it though, and we are not as cheap as most people would like to. But on the other hand, you will have better chances of getting your permit.

P.S.: Yes, I am grumpy because a lot of people believe you shouldn't pay some moron for making 2 sketches.
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Old 10.05.2011, 10:20
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Re: Extending a house

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P.S.: Yes, I am grumpy because a lot of people believe you shouldn't pay some moron for making 2 sketches.
You can be grumpy as long as you have a good imagination - and deliver creative sketches.
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Old 10.05.2011, 10:52
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Re: Extending a house

It has nothing to do with creativity or imagination, has to do with the fact that people believe they should pay for their morning coffee but don’t want to pay for their architect. But I digress…

Some guidelines the process of extending your house. Remember rules vary from case to case. This is my day to day life, so this is what you should expect when a process goes smooth. (Again, remember these are only guidelines I hope can help you)

1 – Buy your new home
2 – Get the idea to extend the house
3 – Check the Gemeinde if you are even allowed to extend your house
4 – Contact an Architect/ Engineer/ Bauleiter whatever professional. Share your ideas.
5 – They may present you other ideas and a good explanation of the applying rules. You might actually skip the step 3 and let them do all the work.

Your idea is illegal!
a) You give up on the idea and try a different solution
b) You contact the neighbours with a good built speech and convince them it’s for the best of the community: if they accept you might be able to build it anyway

Your idea is legal!
a) Way to go champ!

6 – The office you contacted makes the plans for the Baueingabe. This must include a Katasterplan certified by a Geometer. Count on around 250 CHF for that only
7 – You get a preliminary meeting with the Gemeinde for them to check you are in the good path
8 – You deliver your Baueingabe. The whole thing is made public and anyone might complain. Be ready for some idiotic complains (like the pink colour doesn’t fit the purple neighbourhood), but with luck nothing happens.
9 – The Gemeinde takes a deep look into your case and gives you an answer: you might need to make small corrections here and there.
10 – The thing gets green light and you are free to build it!

Small interior changes don’t usually need permit, but wall moving and similar you will need someone to be responsible in case the house falls down.

I hope it helps you. It might seem scary at first (Swiss rules can be very nasty), but the whole trip is a bunch of fun!

I wish you the best luck!
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Old 10.05.2011, 11:10
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Re: Extending a house

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*grumpy architect jumps into the conversation*

First thing first: don't do ANYTHING structural without a permit. Apart from the fact you might throw down the wrong wall, you might get into trouble if you try to sell the house or some nasty neighbour says something (unfortunately nasty neighbours pop like poisonous mushrooms everywhere).

To know what you can do in your specific house, you need to know the rules that apply to it: which construction zone it is, if it has some water/ nature protection, the regular rules of building distance to neighbour grounds (might go up to 8 meters). If you live in Zürich you can check this very useful site:

http://www.are.zh.ch/internet/baudir...s-zentrum.html

browser

http://www.gis.zh.ch/gb4/bluevari/gb...&Massstab=9760

If you do ANYTHING outside your building, even if according to the rules, you have to notice the community. This includes placing sticks with the height and contour of the intended extension. Neighbours have the possibility of complaining during a period of time (varies), and if they want, they can cause you a very big headache, even if you are within the law. I usually say in terms of architecture, this country is far TOO democratic.

As everyone said: check your Gemeinde. If you do not live in Rapperswil, they should be nice enough. They might not speak English though. The most important thing: rules change almost every 10 kms, so you really have to check case by case, Gemeinde by Gemeinde, Kanton by Kanton.

As an architect, I must suggest asking advice from an architect. The architect will check all the rules, provide you with explanations and give you some ideas for the extension. You will have to pay for it though, and we are not as cheap as most people would like to. But on the other hand, you will have better chances of getting your permit.

P.S.: Yes, I am grumpy because a lot of people believe you shouldn't pay some moron for making 2 sketches.
thanks for the site link. do you know if there is another site you can get information on a parcel of land that you identify from the site you already linked? e.g. some kind of free online land register.
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Old 10.05.2011, 11:15
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Re: Extending a house

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It has nothing to do with creativity or imagination, has to do with the fact that people believe they should pay for their morning coffee but don’t want to pay for their architect. But I digress…

Some guidelines the process of extending your house. Remember rules vary from case to case. This is my day to day life, so this is what you should expect when a process goes smooth. (Again, remember these are only guidelines I hope can help you)

1 – Buy your new home
2 – Get the idea to extend the house
3 – Check the Gemeinde if you are even allowed to extend your house
4 – Contact an Architect/ Engineer/ Bauleiter whatever professional. Share your ideas.
5 – They may present you other ideas and a good explanation of the applying rules. You might actually skip the step 3 and let them do all the work.

Although it would appear that for a lot of people here, they want to know whether they can extend before they buy. Something like this:

1 – Find a potential new home
2 – Need to know whether the house can be extended before going ahead with the purchase
3 – Check the Gemeinde if you are even allowed to extend the house
4 – Contact an Architect/ Engineer/ Bauleiter whatever professional. Share your ideas.
5 – They may present you other ideas and a good explanation of the applying rules. You might actually skip the step 3 and let them do all the work.

I can see that, in the case of someone viewing several potential houses, the costs could soon rack up so they probably only want to go to step 3.
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Old 10.05.2011, 11:25
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Re: Extending a house

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thanks for the site link. do you know if there is another site you can get information on a parcel of land that you identify from the site you already linked? e.g. some kind of free online land register.
I am not totally sure I understand your question. The browser is totally free. If you need to get information about a certain parcel do the following: (trying to do it without pictures so sorry if you don't understand! Just say something if you don't get my engrish! )

1 - Write desired adress on right corner (Adress-Suche)
2 - You get your terrain on a bad quality plan
3 - With your terrain selected (should have a red dot over it) click on the "folder" icon on the top right, next to the binoculars. Click on Amtliche Vermessung (AV93). This will give you the basic information (zone, area, etc)
4 - Check the other plan options inside that folder.

Again it's all in German, but a dictionary and a bit of patience makes wonders!

@Tom1234

Yes, if they haven't bought it yet, your way is perfect: just need to bother the Gemeinde to know more. But contacting the seller might actually also help: in theory they must provide basic information on the terrain and that includes changing potential
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Old 10.05.2011, 11:38
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Re: Extending a house

I forgot a very tiny important detail:

To get the information, after selecting the plan Amtliche Vermessung (AV93), change to at least Massstab 1:500 otherwise youcan't see anything. Then click on the (I) button on the top left corner (black circle) and click on desired terrain.

Sorry for forgeting that XD. Currently at work printing Baueingaben and the plotter is driving me nuts!
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Old 10.05.2011, 12:27
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Re: Extending a house

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P.S.: Yes, I am grumpy because a lot of people believe you shouldn't pay some moron for making 2 sketches.
I'm grumpy because our architect couldn't find the right end of the pencil and some of their ideas were just plain dumb/poorly executed/not thought through, and then they had to gall to try and charge us for their mistakes... but hey, that's just my experience...

That all said, another tip: in some instances, complaints are limited to particular people, e.g. in our case, our fence could only be objected to by 2 people - direct neighbours on either side.

Result: we got them to sign a waiver when we made the application, which meant that it did not need to be publicly listed and saved about 2 weeks off the whole process. Again, as others have pointed out, you need to check, check and check again for the various shortcuts and loopholes that can make things that little bit easier.

As an example of variations, in our Gemeinde, you need to apply for planning permission of permanent/build BBQs -
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Old 10.05.2011, 12:42
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Re: Extending a house

I fully agree with MarieZug and Meloncollie.

The ratio of usable land is governed, there may be zoning restrictions, and there may even be historical covenents in the development of that particular parcel. Generally the commune/geminde would have all of this information, but you may need to hire an expert legal or building person to get it all straight and understandable.

The only thing to add is that once you have all the legal stuff sorted (above) you may indeed run into other issues, at the policial or practical level. For example, if you are single person living in a 200m2 house, and you want to add on to it, they may question you why? and typically refuse it because you don't 'need' the space. One of our neighbors, retired couple, wanted to add a winter garden onto their place, thereby increasing the surfact by about 20%, the commune refused as there were only two occupants and they said they had 'enough space' already. Thus, if you really want to do it, I would do my best to 'smooze' and 'booze' with the locals, especially the neighbors, the communal officials, and the local politico.
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Old 10.05.2011, 14:14
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Re: Extending a house

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Anyone here have experience of extending a house? Aside from the fact that it would probably require an arm and a leg. I was wondering with Swiss legalities and neighbourhood politics, whether it is actually possible in practice?
A lot of things are possible in practice but weather you want to do them here is another thing!!

Great information above the secret to it is to realize that building regulations and requirements here are actually not rules but guidelines open to interpretation. We have a development over the road that is so far out of zone and Katasterplan rules the word corruption springs to mind. We spent several thousand fighting to get it back into zone rules (unsuccessfully I might add) until a local explained the property owners connections to the Gemainde and Bauumpt (relatives).
A comprehensive understanding of the Katasterplan for the area is a must, as stated above someone else may have "used" all your building space, parking places, electricity/water and sewrage/drainage capacity so you can do nothing EVEN inside the zoning rules, unless of course you have relatives working in the Bauumpt then none of this appies to you!!
Fees and inspections, where do I start, everthing must be measured/inspected/counted/tasted before during and after renovation/extension (not including the architect, these inspection fees added about 12k to a "simple" double garage costing 100k) and then the sweetest of all, you will need to pay to have an insurance inspection for revalueing the property after it is finished. The increase in value is then backdated to your original application or start date and you pay the extra fees required which also applies to electricity and water supply charges. For us renovating and extending over a five year period we managed to not get hit with the extra backdated insurance fee (Chf7k) (not all Gemaindes do this) but had to pay the extra supply charge for water and electricity Chf4k.
On a more posative note, most of the nasty little beaurocratic inspectors liked me so they let us get away with a lot of small details that they could have thrown the book at us over, again personal interpretion of the rules rather than black and write rules.
So the process is:
Start with an obscene amount of money and be prepared to spend it and more.
Get a great architect who knows your area.
Be very nice to the Bauumpt he/she can make it all happen for you (either good or bad!!)
OR
Start with an obscene amount of money and be prepared to spend it and more.
Marry the fuggly old secretary from the Germainde it will help in the approval process
OR
Start with an obscene amount of money and be prepared to spend it and more.
Buy a big old renovators dream (without herritage protection) and have a go at that, expensive as well but less heartache than when the neigbours destroy all your hopes and dreams of getting any extensions approved.
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Old 10.05.2011, 14:32
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Re: Extending a house

Phil could you give me rough idea of how much your property will cost in Schaffhausen and how many rooms in the house?

Won't you feel lost in Schaffhausen? It's like living in a farm.
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Old 10.05.2011, 16:10
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Re: Extending a house

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Phil could you give me rough idea of how much your property will cost in Schaffhausen and how many rooms in the house?

Won't you feel lost in Schaffhausen? It's like living in a farm.
well, first of all, schaffhausen is the best place to live in switzerland. prices vary a lot and your options are determined by a single factor:

Factor #1: Is there even a property available for sale within your price bracket?

If you're looking for a house instead of the flat, then most of the time the answer is "not one that I would want to live in".

For a 4.5-5.5 room house, you're looking at 550kchf - infinity kchfs.

When I first was looking to move here, there was a giant 6.5 room house available for 450kchf which needed a bit of repair. I wish I'd just bought then since very little has come up since then.
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