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Old 27.10.2017, 11:11
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renovating a house built in the 50s

We just bought small home on the lake in Hurden SZ. We want to do some small renovations as it was built in the 50s and hasn't had any major renovations (check for asbestos/toxins, update kitchen, install new floors, make windows a little bigger, etc). We don't plan to do anything major like tearing down walls as we would like to demolish and rebuild in 2-3 years time. Does anyone have any recommendations for great architects / interior designers in Kanton SZ or any other tips they could give us?
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Old 27.10.2017, 11:41
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

What is your budget ?

So expensive here that I would live with it and wait if you are going to demolish in 3 years ... really.

Have you first checked you would be allowed to do that btw?
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Old 27.10.2017, 11:53
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

I'd recommend my architect, who has been fabulous, but goes back into retirement after our project. Our building company have also been great, and the owner and his son and many of their staff have excellent English, plus they've taken on project management when the architect went on vacation. http://www.speck-schreinerei.ch/en/
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Old 27.10.2017, 11:57
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

Oh, and depending on your definition of "small", this kind of project is likely to start at CHF 50k, unless you're prepared to buy a lot of second hand material (kitchen, windows). If you've got that kind of cash to burn, good for you. Otherwise I too would wait until you're ready (and able legally) to demolish. Which isn't a bad thing - gives you the chance to stay in the new place a bit and get a sense of sun/wind/temperatures etc....


I had so many plans for changes for our place when we bought it 5 years ago. The OH insisted on delaying any major works, and I'm glad of it, because after 5 years we were able to be crystal clear on our requirements and be sure that we're getting the best bang for our buck with no future regrets or "if only we had have done this" moments
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Old 27.10.2017, 12:03
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

Final tip. Be prepared to be working with many, many companies as everyone trends to being a specialist. Separate company for windows, and they only do the windows, and not the creation of the enlarged gap needed in the walls because that is done by a carpenter. Separate company for waterproofing in the kitchen/bathroom, because the plumber only works with the water cables and fittings. The painter may well not touch wallpapering, because each is a specialist trade. Etc, etc. Unless you secure a fabulous "handwerker" (general handyman) but that isn't really the "Swiss way"......
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Old 27.10.2017, 12:07
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

Sounds like you plan to essentially waste a six-figure amount.
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Old 27.10.2017, 12:13
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

Get thee to the Bauamt ASAP!

Renovations in canton SZ might be highly restricted if not impossible, or your plans might be easily rubber stamped; much depends on the specifics of your property, on attitudes in your Gemeinde and on your relationship with the Powers That Be, how much Vitamin B you, or your architect or Bauleiter, have. So first find out where the land lies.

Hurden is somewhat special. Is the land by any chance held in Baurecht? If so, understand the role the Korporation plays.

Are you on the water? If so, or within X distance of the water, you may be dealing with a whole host of bureaucracies.

So... First draw up some tentative ideas. Make an appointment for an information gathering conversation with the Bauamt to get a rough idea of what is or is not possible. Ask if they can recommend architects or Bauleiters. They are supposed to be neutral, but 'everybody knows' that hiring local is often key to a successful permit. If, of course, permits are needed at all.

Some things require permits, some 'only' need consent from your neighhbors, some you can do without asking anyone. Just make sure you understand not only the regs but also local interpretations of the regs.

Is your property part of a Quartier or any other type of homeowners association? If so, additional regs or oversight may apply. Look for a Gestaltungsplan, usually held at the Gemeinde Bauamt, but sometimes, as was ours, with the canton.

Also, if your property is anything other than solely Bauland, find out if any work was done after 1972. This is a magic date in SZ, there might be leeway even in restrictive zoning if nothing has been done after that date.

In short, there (may or may not) be dragons. Start your quest with the Bauamt.

Good luck!
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Old 27.10.2017, 13:06
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

Thanks for the quick replies! The property is on the water and is in Baurecht. We are aware of the restrictions bc of this and have spoken with the Bauamt. We were told that as long as we work within the existing walls of the house then we don't need any permissions. (Given that we don't find huge amts of asbestos and need to tear down more...)

Obviously when we demolish and rebuild in a fewf years, that will be a whole different ballgame; hence our decision to do a smaller renovation now to make it livable and have the time to research and plan the larger project when we're ready. This also gives us time to cozy up to our new neighbors before attempting to build anything.

We were hoping to spend no more than 200K on renovations. Is it possible to do this kind of work without an architect? Obviously when we build the new house we will want the expertise of an architect, but as this is a much smaller project, we were hoping to save a bit of $$. I don't like the idea of contacting all the different specialists individually. Do any of you know of a Handiwerker that could handle this?

First and foremost, we want to check for asbestos - do you know who I would contact to do that? All the sanierung companies I found online seem to be for huge projects, not single family homes...
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Old 27.10.2017, 13:23
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

I really recommend trying to do without an architect and/or designer if at all possible. You would only need the former if you're planning structural changes and the latter if you have no imagination and want to implement someone else's vision. Either of them will charge you a small (or large) fortune for advice that you don't really need.

We're currently looking at properties in various areas including some that need considerable work, most just needing new bathrooms, decorating, flooring etc. The cost of getting these things done professionally is astronomical so it's worth considering, for example, getting a plumber to install the necessary pipework but fitting sinks and toilets yourself (or getting a handy mate to help you). At the very least you should look at buying the materials from Hornbach or similar rather than a kitchen fitter's supplier, which will often be two or three times the price, and not always significantly better quality.
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Old 27.10.2017, 13:29
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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We were hoping to spend no more than 200K on renovations...
You are going to wast...invest up to 200K for renovations which you will entirely destroy in a few years time?

Good idea to have asked for "help", you really need it.
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Old 27.10.2017, 13:48
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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You are going to wast...invest up to 200K for renovations which you will entirely destroy in a few years time?
If someone buys a lake front house in Hurden they have the dough for such shenanigans.
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Old 27.10.2017, 14:15
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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First and foremost, we want to check for asbestos
If they find that, expect a whole different ball game amount for getting rid of that. It is already very expensive in other countries, just imagine Switzerland.
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Old 27.10.2017, 14:28
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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First and foremost, we want to check for asbestos - do you know who I would contact to do that?
I think you should insist that the vendors check this, officially, before you buy the house. The level of detail held in the local land registry in CH isconsiderable, so I would hope this detail should be easily available, but if not I'm certain it should be the responsibility of the vendor and/or agent to ensure that any asbestos use is fully declared.
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Old 27.10.2017, 14:54
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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You are going to wast...invest up to 200K for renovations which you will entirely destroy in a few years time?

Good idea to have asked for "help", you really need it.
You see it as waste, others see it as an worthwhile investment to have a nicer place to be for whatever period of time.

Let each of us decide ourselves what we want to do with our money.
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Old 27.10.2017, 20:16
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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You see it as waste, others see it as an worthwhile investment to have a nicer place to be for whatever period of time.

Let each of us decide ourselves what we want to do with our money.
Did I prevent anything happening? No.
Did I controlled the OP's decision on what to do with their money? No.

I merely expressed my opinion, which is natural in a public forum. Maybe you want to restore censorship?

PS: I am not mastering English language, but I'm pretty sure "investment" is not the right word to describe the situation.
PS2: You are enlarging kindly the situation to fit your comment, we are apparently not talking about "whatever period of time", the destroy was clearly indicated as occuring in 2-3 year time.

PS3: so, 200K for 3 years (i'm being very kind to take the worse scenario) is
66K thousand per year. Which is 5500CHF per months.
Most likely largely sufficient to rent a beyond wonderful magnificient property in that period of time.

So, I was very kind, but since you are expressing that I am not letting you decide, let me express my opinion more clearly: That is a very stupid financial move, based on the information given. But please, it's your money, do as you wish.

Here you are, we clarified.
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Old 30.10.2017, 22:07
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

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We were hoping to spend no more than 200K on renovations. ...
It might be worth watching the optics with your neighbours, especially if you want to "cozy up" to them for near-future demolition plan approvals?

The Brits we had bought our house from, had spent a bomb load of cash on crazy renovations and additions that actually didn't add much value. (Even in a strong sales market, we still bought the house for LESS than what they spent on the renovations alone!) Each of the neighbours knew exactly what was spent (we're in a small community and the "gossip grapevine" is strong), and they had a very dim view on the wasteful foreigners who had been splashing their cash about like drunken sailors.....Even today if that family name comes up, its met with rolled eyes and "tsk tsks" from the locals followed by stories of the legendary spends....


Switzerland may be a wealthy country, but in my limited experience in Kanton Schwyz, you may well have an issue with Swiss locals viewing your short term "investment" as an extravagant waste; which in turn could lead to your ultimate works attracting the "stupid foreigner levy" or simply non cooperation on planning approvals?

Last edited by smileygreebins; 30.10.2017 at 22:17.
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Old 30.10.2017, 23:16
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Re: renovating a house built in the 50s

Never underestimate the Schwyzer Vorhangzuckenverein!



Smileygreebins is spot on. Cultivating your neighbors, being mindful of local sensitivities, will stand you in good stead when it comes time to begin the demolition and rebuild permit process.

As it's Hurden I would worry less about gossip around cash being splashed, rather I'd do everything possible to ensure that this phase does not inconvenience the neighbors. Good will built now will likely be key to success (or at least minimal objection) in the next phase.


(You do have confirmation from the Bauamt/Korporation/canton that future demolition and rebuilding is allowed, don't you?)

Again, good luck with your project(s).
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