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Old 09.08.2011, 18:23
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renovation question: awesome walls, do we really have to cover them in insulation?

We just received a report from an architect about a house we are interested in. It is from the 1650s and has 2 unfinished floors: an attic and what we're guessing was the servant's quarters. The architect says we have to build new walls in the servant's floor because they are not insulated to modern standards, which didn't surprise us. Hoever, the original walls are awesome and I can't bear to cover them up:



So, here are some logistics. The floors above and below are properly insulated. 2/4 walls will be properly insulated. We would get new windows. Saying that, can anyone point us to somewhere that answers the following:

1- If a room was historically a room, is it still considered extending the living space if we add electricity, new windows, and move in? Or is it still considered adding new space and therefore must be brought up to code?

2- Since everything around the 2 walls is properly insulated, is this enough to meet regulations... we're guessing no... but then is there a historic loophole/exception?

btw, it's in Aargau
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Old 09.08.2011, 18:25
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Re: renovation question

Looks like my husband just found this: http://gesetzessammlungen.ag.ch/frontend/versions/1030 so maybe #1 isn't the case since we need to add heating, but we'd still be interested in another loop hole if anyone knows of one.
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Old 10.08.2011, 10:16
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Re: renovation question

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1- If a room was historically a room, is it still considered extending the living space if we add electricity, new windows, and move in? Or is it still considered adding new space and therefore must be brought up to code?

2- Since everything around the 2 walls is properly insulated, is this enough to meet regulations... we're guessing no... but then is there a historic loophole/exception?
In response to

1- The living space is important for taxation, and the current existing living space would be on record in the official documents, ie. the commune records, or the current/previous owner records. You would need to see what it on record and compare it to what you want to do. In general, for older buildings, especially those that have not changed ownership for many years, the official living space is often undervalued from the true living space.

2- Am not familar with Aagau etc, but in my experience there is no real building regulations as such, but their may be energy efficiency standards. However, for energy efficiency this typcially is for new houses and older ones are 'grandfathered'. However, things may be very different in your area, both canton and local regulations.
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Old 10.08.2011, 10:57
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Re: renovation question

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We just received a report from an architect about a house we are interested in. It is from the 1650s and has 2 unfinished floors: an attic and what we're guessing was the servant's quarters. The architect says we have to build new walls in the servant's floor because they are not insulated to modern standards, which didn't surprise us. Hoever, the original walls are awesome and I can't bear to cover them up:



So, here are some logistics. The floors above and below are properly insulated. 2/4 walls will be properly insulated. We would get new windows. Saying that, can anyone point us to somewhere that answers the following:

1- If a room was historically a room, is it still considered extending the living space if we add electricity, new windows, and move in? Or is it still considered adding new space and therefore must be brought up to code?

2- Since everything around the 2 walls is properly insulated, is this enough to meet regulations... we're guessing no... but then is there a historic loophole/exception?

btw, it's in Aargau
There is a technique that you can use that insulates the walls. You can re"plaster" the walls between the wooden beams with a lime plaster and mix in straw. It was used in the 17th century and is just as effective now. Ask your architect about it.
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Old 10.08.2011, 16:37
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Re: renovation question

Awesome ideas!! We're hoping for a grandfather clause of some kind. DH says there's an "exception" field on the form, but it doesn't say what kinds of exceptions they allow or how to get them passed!

We're hoping to do a lot of the reno work ourselves. We enjoy it and it'll save lots of money. The replastering might be right up my alley!
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Old 11.08.2011, 00:17
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Re: renovation question

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2- Am not familar with Aagau etc, but in my experience there is no real building regulations as such, but their may be energy efficiency standards. However, for energy efficiency this typcially is for new houses and older ones are 'grandfathered'. However, things may be very different in your area, both canton and local regulations.
Well there is a whole page of various building regulations and authorities here:

http://www.ag.ch/index.php?controlle...b8898a0ed6e167

I doubt they sit around and twiddle their thumbs.....
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Old 11.08.2011, 00:18
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Re: renovation question

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Am not familar with Aagau etc, but in my experience there is no real building regulations as such
This is absolutely not true.
Any architect worth hiring should be doing the research for you, looking into the local regulations, obtaining permits subject to approval and applying for applicable rebates BEFORE the work begins.
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Old 11.08.2011, 01:38
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Re: renovation question

I didn't get to meet the architect in person, but I get the impression he wants to make everything new. In the quote, he said it's a good "collector's house" and then proceeded to say it should be rebuilt/knocked down if we wanted it.. even though it's structurally sound and full of great things. I doubt we'll go forward with him. Our goal would be to preserve what we can and try to do it for an ok price. We don't seem to be on the same wave length, even my FIL (who's Swiss and has renovated a few places in the past) said some of his quotes were really high. :-/ I need to find someone like minded to look at it. Hard to find from a distance and scared to buy without properly researching!.
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Old 11.08.2011, 08:52
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Re: renovation question

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Our goal would be to preserve what we can and try to do it for an ok price.
Ok, that equation does not compute. Tradespeople are in very short supply at the moment. The building industry is booming and tradespeople have no incentive to offer reasonable prices at the moment. I don't know what your budget is and I don't know what property you have purchased but you will probably need deep pockets and patience (it takes two weeks to get a plumber to come and change a tap....). Alternatively you could try looking for tradespeople over the border in Germany. They are also busy but the lure of Swiss francs may buy you an increased level of interest.

One place where you may get more information from people in the know (in German, but local information) is the following forum:

www.haus-forum.ch
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Old 11.08.2011, 09:27
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Re: renovation question

TammieE,

Your first question is correctly answered by runningdeer.
About your second question:
- I doubt that 2 out of 4 walls insulated will be sufficient to meet energy efficiency standards. Probably the historic character of the building can be the exception clause, to some extent, for not meeting these standards.
- You have however a real interest in insulating the building as good as you can. You pay once for insulation costs, a lifetime for heating costs.

You should also see the limits of your cooperation with your architect. As the house, by the 1 picture you show us, seems to be a "collector's item", you are "emotional" about some of its features. As a professional, your architect should understand this emotional aspect, but he has to inform you on regulations and standards.
You have to discuss and agree upon a common approach to the house. It will not be easy, I know what I'm talking about... I bought one of these collector's items and I am an architect...

Good luck...
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Old 11.08.2011, 09:47
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Re: renovation question

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This is absolutely not true.
Any architect worth hiring should be doing the research for you, looking into the local regulations, obtaining permits subject to approval and applying for applicable rebates BEFORE the work begins.
Just to clarify, I was responding specifically to her question on 'insulation'. There are of course building regs. for a host of other things.

In my experience, of course in VD as I've noted, we are in the process of converting an uninsulated garage into living space (seems similar to what OP wants to do with part of the house). Our contractor said there is nothing requiring us to use x, y, or z insulation, in fact we don't have to insulate if we dont want to, very thick walls.

However for energy consuption reasons and personal reasons, we think it better to insulate, but the type, how thick, which walls, is all our decision depending on what we want. As our house is not a 'new build' we are exempt from the Minergie or Minergie plus standards that alot of places have required at local levels. Furthermore, he said there would not likely ever be any inspection of it, which is typically the practice here as well.
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Old 11.08.2011, 10:16
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Re: renovation question

Insulation is like money, sex and beer - you can never have too much!!
A few things to consider, one is the direction of walls, if the walls you want to preserve are on the sunnyside of the house then insulation is important but less critical. All modern/newbuilt houses here have insulation (foam) on the outside with a render over, this is a viable alternative if you want to see the walls internally. Reproduction of old walls is not so complicated or expensive so you can replicate what is there with a layer of insulation behind. Is there any protection orders on the house? Sometimes even if there is not the Germainde will not approve anything that is not strictly keeping with the style/age of the house. Pm me for more information if you are interested in renovations in old wood, I normally make furniture with old wood but do a few renovations as well.
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Old 12.08.2011, 18:43
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Re: renovation question

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Ok, that equation does not compute.

We're pretty handy So we intend on doing some things ourselves.. eg our bathroom here..
before:

after:

(only paid for plumbing and did the whole thing for about 1/3 or less of standard reno cost. I know we'll need more help in CH if we buy the house, but we plan on doing some ourselves.)
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Old 12.08.2011, 18:46
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Re: renovation question

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TammieE,

You should also see the limits of your cooperation with your architect. As the house, by the 1 picture you show us, seems to be a "collector's item", you are "emotional" about some of its features. As a professional, your architect should understand this emotional aspect, but he has to inform you on regulations and standards.
You have to discuss and agree upon a common approach to the house. It will not be easy, I know what I'm talking about... I bought one of these collector's items and I am an architect...

Good luck...

So true. I want to protect and restore as much as possible.I'm not one to gut what doesn't need to come out... unless what's there isn't original.
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Old 12.08.2011, 19:46
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Re: renovation question

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We're pretty handy So we intend on doing some things ourselves.. eg our bathroom here..
Ok, I am suitably impressed (as I stare at my two left hands)
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