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Old 21.07.2012, 23:39
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"Leaky condo" registry?

Is there any sort of official registry of structural/construction quality issues that are discovered in existing buildings?

Basically if I have an address, is there a place to check if the building has any known or past issues (like an improper insulation, cracks in foundation/walls, etc)? Or is it down to hiring (an equivalent of) a home inspector and let him crawl around and check things out?

(I checked the FAQ, this is not covered there :))

(edit) This is pertaining to Vaud.
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Old 21.07.2012, 23:59
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Not sure .. Doubt it really. But I do know a Chartered Surveyor (pom) in Region Zurich that can crawl around and take a look and also project manage a build or renovation for you (in German and English). Not sure if I'm allowed to plaster the name in the forum (the EF bites sometimes :-)) but happy to put in touch via PM .
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Old 22.07.2012, 00:06
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

Thanks, Lisa. I'm still trying to understand what's involved in purchasing a property here. Is home inspection a common part of the transaction (in Canada/US it is)?
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Old 22.07.2012, 00:51
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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Thanks, Lisa. I'm still trying to understand what's involved in purchasing a property here. Is home inspection a common part of the transaction (in Canada/US it is)?
Some useful threads in this context:

[Ins and Outs] Buying Property in Switzerland

Buying a house in swizerland

Buying property - tips on property surveyance

Professional House Inspection - Lausanne

Proof of safe electrics before we buy house

die zweijährige Garantieabnahme durchführen (2 year building inspection)
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Old 22.07.2012, 09:51
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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Thanks, Lisa. I'm still trying to understand what's involved in purchasing a property here. Is home inspection a common part of the transaction (in Canada/US it is)?
A home inspection is not standard - in fact, many sellers will baulk at allowing one.

(It took actually walking away from the deal to get the sellers of the property we bought to allow an inspection.)

On the other hand, a home inspection is absolutely necessary IMO. There are so few consumer protections around property purchase here - I've seen all sorts of horrors and tricks played - it really is a case of caveat emptor. Unless you yourself have a good background in construction/structural engineering - or very deep pockets - you really do need to know what you are getting yourself into.

Another issue is finding someone who is actually qualified to do an inspection. There isn't a regulated profession, as it is in Illinois. Here one typically hires an architect - and you need to do due diligence to ensure that the architect actually understands construction/building. IME the architects I've come across have been more concerned with design than building. In hindsight, we would have been better off with a Bauleiter, a construction manager, as the architect missed most of the structural issues.

But even so, I would not purchase a property here without some kind of inspection.

Cost of an inspection varies greatly - but budget ca 1000-1500.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 22.07.2012, 12:31
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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Thanks, Lisa. I'm still trying to understand what's involved in purchasing a property here. Is home inspection a common part of the transaction (in Canada/US it is)?
Nobody with brains would buy property without a home inspection. You might ask your financing bank or the home owners' association (HEV in German speaking Switzerland) for a recommendation.
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Old 22.07.2012, 13:47
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

I always use the experts from the "Gebäudeversicherung Kanton Bern".
Almost all kantons have these people. They are architects who have made an extended course in building defects.
These experts work on a private basis for the Gebäudeversicherung (building insurance) and have a set area of the kanton which they control.
If you could find the expert for your area, this would be for me the man to do a "home inspection" for you.
Here are the kontact adresses for all of Switzerland.
http://www.gvb.ch/gvb/de/kontakte/linksgebaeude.html
Sorry its only in German and French.
Hope this helps.

Salut Zämma
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Old 22.07.2012, 13:57
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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A home inspection is not standard - in fact, many sellers will baulk at allowing one.

(It took actually walking away from the deal to get the sellers of the property we bought to allow an inspection.)

On the other hand, a home inspection is absolutely necessary IMO. There are so few consumer protections around property purchase here - I've seen all sorts of horrors and tricks played - it really is a case of caveat emptor. Unless you yourself have a good background in construction/structural engineering - or very deep pockets - you really do need to know what you are getting yourself into.

Another issue is finding someone who is actually qualified to do an inspection. There isn't a regulated profession, as it is in Illinois. Here one typically hires an architect - and you need to do due diligence to ensure that the architect actually understands construction/building. IME the architects I've come across have been more concerned with design than building. In hindsight, we would have been better off with a Bauleiter, a construction manager, as the architect missed most of the structural issues.

But even so, I would not purchase a property here without some kind of inspection.

Cost of an inspection varies greatly - but budget ca 1000-1500.

Best of luck to you.
I couldn't agree more!

If they make a fuss about one be prepaired to walk away.

I had a case recently where there were claims caused by water damage from unknown origin. There was a lot of to fro and investigation, eventually it was uncovered and solved but there was a period when the client didn't know if they were covered... Very stressful for all. There was no inspection on the property pre purchase, but if there had been a worry could have been avoided to a certain extent as if the surveyor had missed something there would be some form of comeback.
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Old 22.07.2012, 17:53
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

Most banks won't even finance without a professional inspection
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Old 22.07.2012, 18:31
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

I have known so many people who have purchased a property without any inspection - and when I have asked them why, they come out with the answer that construction/quality is much better in Switzerland than most countries.
But then I ask if they would purchase a home for instance in the UK without some sort of survey, they would not even consider it.
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Old 22.07.2012, 20:21
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

Thank you, everyone. This was most helpful.

With regards to the Swiss construction quality being superior - that's an interesting subject. Any opinions on this? Don't know about the UK, but having been exposed to the plywood flimsies that pass for houses in Canada, I would be inclined to to agree with the above sentiment.
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Old 22.07.2012, 20:54
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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Thank you, everyone. This was most helpful.

With regards to the Swiss construction quality being superior - that's an interesting subject. Any opinions on this? Don't know about the UK, but having been exposed to the plywood flimsies that pass for houses in Canada, I would be inclined to to agree with the above sentiment.
Whooaaaa! That's gonna answer a whole can of worms! lol it's certainly not bad in my opinion, but really like everywhere it depends on the contractors. New stuff certianly is built to good regs but there can be cost savings if they are going out of money that can cause niggles....
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Old 22.07.2012, 22:01
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Most banks won't even finance without a professional inspection
Where? In Switzerland it's no problem.
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Old 22.07.2012, 22:34
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

If you buy a brand new house you will usually receive a 2 year guarentee. If you buy a used house I would insist on a survey by a qualified person. How can you be sure the insulation is adequate? The heating is adequate? That there is no dampness? Are you sure there are no plans to build a tall building in front of yours?

This smugness, "If it's Swiss, it must be good" makes me very cross.
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Old 22.07.2012, 22:56
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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Thank you, everyone. This was most helpful.

With regards to the Swiss construction quality being superior - that's an interesting subject. Any opinions on this? Don't know about the UK, but having been exposed to the plywood flimsies that pass for houses in Canada, I would be inclined to to agree with the above sentiment.
Corner cutting goes on here as it does everywhere if one does not keep a careful eye on the process. And you'll find the same percentage of economical-with-the-truth builders, sellers, and agents as you do anywhere else. As everywhere, caveat emptor.

The difference is that so few people here buy property - this is a land of renters - that there has not been much of a call for consumer protection.

Something that took me by surprise: because the prevailing ethos (at least in this corner of SZ) is 'selber schuld', practices that I would have considered shady back home are not considered as such here. After all, the customer should have seen it coming - selber schuld, oder?

You have to go in questioning everything, double checking everything - and then question again. Take nothing on trust. Beware the seller/agent/builder who natters on about 'Swiss quality'... very likely the gentleman doth protest too much.

Augen auf... and good luck.
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Old 23.07.2012, 07:58
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I find it to be a completely different system here than Australia where buyer beware is paramount.

In Zurich there are many different contributors to why people, including lenders, do not usually obtain inspections. The reasons include building standards/overregulation, insurance regulation (builders, homeowners, etc) and as already mentioned, the lower rate of turnover of ownership. Most homes are apartments, and most of those are owned by asset managers like ins coys, pension funds, banks.

Low demand and apparently very little need for inspections.

To the OP;

Check with your bank and ask why they feel comfortable without an inspection

Check with the local equivalent of the home owners association (HEV in Deutsch) re the relative responsibilities.

Check with your ins company ( or any) to find out who pays if the building is substandard. I believe the builders (or their insurers) are liable for years if it's found not to be according to building regulation even years after any number of ownership changes.

There has to be a reason for the complacency (rather than just what someone referred to as "smugness" about Swiss quality).

Last edited by Aussie Lisa; 23.07.2012 at 08:25.
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Old 23.07.2012, 10:41
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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There has to be a reason for the complacency (rather than just what someone referred to as "smugness" about Swiss quality).
Consumer naiveté.

Seriously - due diligence is indeed necessary.
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Old 23.07.2012, 10:47
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

For me, there is probably over-regulation in Oz AND and a strong emphasis in Caveat Emptor. For example, Certified Tradesmen are to do much of the work that some in CH would do ( home cabling and networking for example ). Do they for example have a termite issue in CH ?
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Old 23.07.2012, 10:52
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Re: "Leaky condo" registry?

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Thanks, Lisa. I'm still trying to understand what's involved in purchasing a property here. Is home inspection a common part of the transaction (in Canada/US it is)?
if you're going to spend a lot of money on a house, it is common sense to have it checked out to make sure you're not buying a lemon.
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Old 23.07.2012, 22:48
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if you're going to spend a lot of money on a house, it is common sense to have it checked out to make sure you're not buying a lemon.
Agreed, although to answer the OPs question it doesn't seem to be common practice (in Kt Zurich). Whatever the reason might be.
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