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Old 18.09.2012, 00:00
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Any good renovation experiences out there?

We are about to buy a house that will need a good deal of renovation. We are all up for it but of course, expecting the worse because we have heard nothing but horror stories. Has anybody had a good experience renovating in Switzerland in Vaud? I would like to work with a general contractor that will bring in his associates including carpenters, painter and electrician. I need to tear down a few walls, put in new flooring and install a new kitchen and a closet. If you have successfully worked with someone that can help us with this, please let me know! Thanks.
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Old 18.09.2012, 00:25
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

Ha! So naive...

They dont have gc here. You have to locate and hire each person individually which makes it a total nightmare because they don't speak English. It's like herding cats

Where in Vaud are you? Pm me and I will give you some names and pointers for what not to do.
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Old 18.09.2012, 00:30
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

Plus of course it's likely not US woodframe construction but 100pct load bearing concrete and breeze block.

As for contractors yes about 40 on a new build. I joked there'd be a specific firm to do the silicone jointing... there was!
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Old 18.09.2012, 00:34
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

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We are about to buy a house that will need a good deal of renovation. We are all up for it but of course, expecting the worse because we have heard nothing but horror stories. Has anybody had a good experience renovating in Switzerland in Vaud? I would like to work with a general contractor that will bring in his associates including carpenters, painter and electrician. I need to tear down a few walls, put in new flooring and install a new kitchen and a closet. If you have successfully worked with someone that can help us with this, please let me know! Thanks.
i have never heard of a single good renovation story here. only tales of losing a hell of a lot of money and not getting what you wanted and even cases of near bankruptcy. tread carefully!
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Old 18.09.2012, 00:37
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

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i have never heard of a single good renovation story here. only tales of losing a hell of a lot of money and not getting what you wanted and even cases of near bankruptcy. tread carefully!
My wife and I almost killed each other because of the stress from renovation. And our neighbors were so sick of the construction noise, they got together and helped us find the right people. We got almost what we wanted though.
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Old 18.09.2012, 01:37
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

Hire an Architect?
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Old 18.09.2012, 05:03
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

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My wife and I almost killed each other because of the stress from renovation. And our neighbors were so sick of the construction noise, they got together and helped us find the right people. We got almost what we wanted though.
You need a good contractor, a good banker, a good architect, and a good marriage counselor (not necessarily in that order).


Good luck.
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Old 18.09.2012, 10:06
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

Good would be an exaggeration, but it worked for us (we're in canton Bern). The cost overran, of course. We used an architect and he organised all the labourers, permissions, insurance etc.
The advice I can give is:
1. It is very easy to underestimate the costs.
2. The project must be defined very clearly from the outset.
3. Do not imagine that, once the project has started, you can do anything to reduce the costs.
4. The architect will be paid by you and sometimes also by the firms he hires on your behalf (a few percent if you are lucky).
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Old 18.09.2012, 10:10
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Re: Any good renovation experiences out there?

We bought a house in June and renovated it (still are). We did the research and found some key people (Windows: Fenster Trösch; solar heating, plumbing and ventilation system: Würmli; insulation, plastering, general building work: Stefan Meier; Painting: Fankhauser).

The rest of the work we have done ourselves. We found that the various trades to be extremely helpful and very happy to let us help them with the work. They even lend us their tools and materials for us to use while they are not there.

We are both project leaders, so we basically drew up a project plan and sent it to them, which has worked fine. I cannot recommend Stefan Meier in Wettingen highly enough; his company is the gold standard by which all others should be judged (I wrote another post on this experience; search this site for Stefan Meier)

General experience is - DO NOT underestimate just how bloody long it will take. Even the simple jobs can leave you bewildered at times. I have numerous examples of jobs that should have taken a couple of hours, but took a day and a half; we had to replace a combination switch on the wall. Easy? No! Due to the way it was installed, we had to relocate it, including the conduit. On a wall that was made of solid concrete... The list goes on and on of stuff like this !

Secondly, do not expect the different trades to talk to one another; even if they are in the same room. You must act as project leader; which means a lot of phone calls and co-ordination.

Thirdly, you MUST be able to speak German, and possibly Italian, in some cases.

Otherwise, it's really quite good fun! I have lost 10kg in weight as a result of all the physical work :-)

P.S. Expect to get on first-name terms with the staff in Bauhaus, Jumbo, Coop ;-)
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Old 18.09.2012, 10:39
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We renovated in canton AG (new bathroom, kitchen, basement mold removal, filled in a pool, electrical work) and we had a positive experience.

We had one general contractor for everything except the kitchen, there we had a kitchen designer/architect. The GC was amazing - cannot recommend him enough. We were on budget, no additional surprises in the end and he was really good at sticking to the timetable we laid out.

The kitchen guy slipped a bit - scheduled his holiday when our kitchen was supposed to be installed - but we got the compensation we asked for and we love the final product.

My advice is IF you don't actually need an architect, don't get one to manage your project. They're not familiar enough with the guys on the ground like a GC is. I have lots of friends who did this is ZH and paid dearly out of pocket because they didn't have a GC.

Good luck - renovations are stressful but if you have someone helping you who really knows what they're doing it will make a world of a difference.
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