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Old 30.01.2018, 09:40
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Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Hi all,

We have bought an old house from the 60s that is in dire need of renovation! We are therefore looking for an architect with experience of this. We are also allowed to (and intend to) add a floor on top of the current property.

Has anyone done a similar project, and if so, do they have an archtiect they would recommend? Anyone had a massively negative experience, if so, what happened - feel free to PM if you don't want to libel some company in public!

We would very much be looking for a modern aesthetic, lots of light, white walls kind of thing. If people have and are willing to share any photos of what they've done for a bit of inspiration, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
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Old 30.01.2018, 10:29
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

I can't recommend the architect we used, as he was a total waste of oxygen.

But my advise, based on hindsight;

If possible, as you will need permits for the addition, use someone with 'Vitamin B' in the Gemeinde, someone who has a good relationship with the Bauamt. I learned the hard way; our application was rejected while the neighbor whose project was essentially the same was able to build their addition.

My advice might only apply to small villages, but it never hurts to at least interview the local guy(s). Start by contacting the Bauamt, ask who they recommend. And if the Bauamt isn't allowed to give a recommendation, ask to see permit applications on file - look to see who the folks who were approved used.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 30.01.2018, 10:55
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Hi Meloncollie,

The additional floor (and one more in fact) is allowed by Baurecht, so I don't think that vitamin B helps too much there, as long as whichever architect I pick builds to the "norm".

We already have rough sketches from the architect in the village, but I would like a few more options to compare with and go with the person whose designs I like best, and more importantly I have a good feeling about and trust, as they will be managing my project for the next year.
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Old 30.01.2018, 13:21
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

i have worked on exactly what you describe, the company i worked for had a pre fabricated timber floor added to the house, it is quicker, and from a structual advantage, no extra stress to the building /foundations,this is a quicker way of doing it,it might be worth asking youre architect of this system,.It is also a lot less messy and intrusive, apart from the breakthrough,and connecting of cables and sanitation. however if you are having extensive work carried out , from a ressale perspective,the swiss are always more favourable to buy a house that has had the electrics, heating and sanitation updated,and if you are tearing the house apart, it is not a lot more on top to get this done also,if it youre house is say about 60/80 meters square footprint, i know of a company that might do this sort of work, and they take on all the gemeinde stuff and have their own architects(takes out all the two ing and fro ing),
i myself had a loft conversion done(uk style) and this company did it all,and were fantastic,
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Old 30.01.2018, 13:22
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Where in Zurich? I know a good guy in Rapperswil. The trouble is the best designers are the worst at running a job and keeping to budget.
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Old 30.01.2018, 13:29
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

What kinds of services are you expecting from an architect? In my case, it was great for initial consultation, getting an idea of the Swiss construction industry, regulations, materials and even some concepts. But when it came time for actual implementation, I found the architect merely doubled all construction costs. So I opted to cut the architect out of the construction process to save cost, whenever I could. It meant having to deal with workers directly, but I believe I got 2 to 3 more times the output for my budget.

There were risks, but there are always risks. But am happy with my end result.
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Old 30.01.2018, 13:49
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Thanks all so far for your inputs. The house isn't in Kt Zurich, but Walchwil, Kt Zug.

There are various options as you mention Phos - luckily I have a couple of good friends who are Architects and Bauleiters at medium-large sized firms. Their firms would take on the work, but they have advised me to source multiple quotes / ideas from architects. It isn't too far away from here, but despite that, I think I would prefer having someone co-ordinating the various tradesmen that wasn't me - I'll see what the budget with and without would be.

Initially, there are a couple of options with the current property - it could be torn down and rebuilt, it could be renovated and a wooden floor/(s) (someone mentinoed this earlier) added on top. I would like to source a few architects who would have a look at it, do the plans they feel are most suitable, then I would go with the one I liked.
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Old 30.01.2018, 13:57
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

We get the keys to our new place tomorrow. After which there is going to be a 2-3 month renovation, including putting a new roof on.

We are using a project manager who will do some of the work himself, but more importantly for us is managing the interaction with the multiple trades, the Bauamt, the Verwaltung, the architect etc

He came recommended from a colleague I trust and I’m told he has a reputation for keeping projects on track re costs and timing. When we were buying the place he came and did a survey of sorts, pointed out where our problems were going to be, advised against certain ideas and then provided me with an itemised “Kostendach” ie the maximum it should cost for the work. Based on the quotes so far it’s looking accurate.

How’s your German? Happy to put you in touch with him if you are interested, but I’m not sure how his English is.
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Old 30.01.2018, 14:01
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Hi Eyebeebe,

That would be great, my partner and I both speak German (hers natively, mine pretty decent), thanks!
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Old 30.01.2018, 15:19
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Architects that I would recommend are CSL. I've seen lots of their work and we got an assessment and quote for a place we were going to buy. Bear in mind though that they are the top end of the market.

Also, how sure are you of the additional floor? We were at the final stages of purchasing a top floor terrace apartment that also had 'permission' to add a floor, with accompanying drawing from, I believe, the same architect that did yours. When we scratched the surface, however, it all unraveled to the point that we pulled out. We found the building guys at the Gemeinde super helpful.
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Old 30.01.2018, 15:28
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

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Architects that I would recommend are CSL. I've seen lots of their work and we got an assessment and quote for a place we were going to buy. Bear in mind though that they are the top end of the market.

Also, how sure are you of the additional floor? We were at the final stages of purchasing a top floor terrace apartment that also had 'permission' to add a floor, with accompanying drawing from, I believe, the same architect that did yours. When we scratched the surface, however, it all unraveled to the point that we pulled out. We found the building guys at the Gemeinde super helpful.
Hi Nick,

In what way did it unravel? Cost? For sure Baurecht means we would be allowed to add it, and neighbour complaints, should there be any, could not stop it.
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Old 30.01.2018, 15:45
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

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Hi Nick,

In what way did it unravel? Cost? For sure Baurecht means we would be allowed to add it, and neighbour complaints, should there be any, could not stop it.
This all sounds very familiar. We were told we could add a floor and as long as it was within 50% of the floor below we would need no permission from neighbours, community etc. (We even had drawings for the extension) Of course we would need building approval of the plans, but that goes without saying. The seller was convinced that this was in the building regulations and told us that the architect had confirmed this. We went to the architect, who wasn't sure that that was what he said and who directed us to the Gemeinde. They confirmed that we would need to get permission from the other residents in the building (Without which we would not be able to continue), plus that a notice would go out to the entire community and they could then object. We didn't believe that such a plan would ever go through unchallenged, so we pulled out, based on the fact that we were sold the property with the promise that we could extend unchallenged.
The reason why I mention this is because the property we were going to buy is opposite the one you bought and when we enquired we were told that the buildings in front could not go higher. It's an easy check, the Gemeinde will be able to tell you exactly.
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Old 30.01.2018, 15:56
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

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This all sounds very familiar. We were told we could add a floor and as long as it was within 50% of the floor below we would need no permission from neighbours, community etc. (We even had drawings for the extension) Of course we would need building approval of the plans, but that goes without saying. The seller was convinced that this was in the building regulations and told us that the architect had confirmed this. We went to the architect, who wasn't sure that that was what he said and who directed us to the Gemeinde. They confirmed that we would need to get permission from the other residents in the building (Without which we would not be able to continue), plus that a notice would go out to the entire community and they could then object. We didn't believe that such a plan would ever go through unchallenged, so we pulled out, based on the fact that we were sold the property with the promise that we could extend unchallenged.
The reason why I mention this is because the property we were going to buy is opposite the one you bought and when we enquired we were told that the buildings in front could not go higher. It's an easy check, the Gemeinde will be able to tell you exactly.
Thanks Nick,

Firstly, I like the look of CSL's work, I'll give them a shout.

Perhaps it is different adding to a Mehrfamilienhaus / Terassenwohnung as you have other people in the building who could object (we had similar reservations about a property in Gruebstrasse). According to the local Baurecht, the place we bought is W2, which means it is allowed to go up to 10.1m above street level, it is currently a Gartengeschoss and Erdgeschoss, so probably about 3m into that 10.1m, so adding one more floor at 100% wohnflache is not an issue - were we to add another floor on top of that, then it might get problematic, as the GG floor is about 60% unliveable (cellar etc) and 40% liveable, so in theory it should be fine to do the 4th floor at 60% wohnflache. All theoretical at present, we were really only thinking about adding one floor.

We have been told, presumably by the only architect in the village that when applying for the planning permission, neighbours in the house opposite you mention could in theory complain, but as long as the house was within the Baurecht parameters, at worst they could slow down the build with appeals doomed to failure at significant cost to them, but ultimately your right to build under Baurecht trumps their perceived complaints.
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Old 30.01.2018, 19:33
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

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Thanks Nick,

Firstly, I like the look of CSL's work, I'll give them a shout.

Perhaps it is different adding to a Mehrfamilienhaus / Terassenwohnung as you have other people in the building who could object (we had similar reservations about a property in Gruebstrasse). According to the local Baurecht, the place we bought is W2, which means it is allowed to go up to 10.1m above street level, it is currently a Gartengeschoss and Erdgeschoss, so probably about 3m into that 10.1m, so adding one more floor at 100% wohnflache is not an issue - were we to add another floor on top of that, then it might get problematic, as the GG floor is about 60% unliveable (cellar etc) and 40% liveable, so in theory it should be fine to do the 4th floor at 60% wohnflache. All theoretical at present, we were really only thinking about adding one floor.

We have been told, presumably by the only architect in the village that when applying for the planning permission, neighbours in the house opposite you mention could in theory complain, but as long as the house was within the Baurecht parameters, at worst they could slow down the build with appeals doomed to failure at significant cost to them, but ultimately your right to build under Baurecht trumps their perceived complaints.
That all sounds pretty reasonable and clear. We didn't get that clarity. CSL do great work, but are super expensive. (But it's going to be expensive regardless!)
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Old 01.02.2018, 10:22
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Morning, Stir.
Do you feel you have enough recommendations to continue the search? The project looks very exciting - congratulations on the house!

If not, I have gotten to know an architect based in Winterthur and she specializes in these private assignments in addition to doing some work for the canton. I believe her to be competent, young (if mid-thirties is young) and innovative, but not the cheapest. Probably not the most expensive either. She has one associate and then she hires in other resources as she needs them. She is a Swiss from the French part and speaks German, Swiss German, French and English.

Her approach though is to really try and understand your wishes and wants so it needs a good conversation with you both, I imagine. I just wanted to let you know in case you were expecting this to be done a bit "quick and dirty".

If you want, I can get her details and check if she has a web-page.

Cheers,
Vibeke
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Old 01.02.2018, 11:04
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

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Morning, Stir.
Do you feel you have enough recommendations to continue the search? The project looks very exciting - congratulations on the house!

If not, I have gotten to know an architect based in Winterthur and she specializes in these private assignments in addition to doing some work for the canton. I believe her to be competent, young (if mid-thirties is young) and innovative, but not the cheapest. Probably not the most expensive either. She has one associate and then she hires in other resources as she needs them. She is a Swiss from the French part and speaks German, Swiss German, French and English.

Her approach though is to really try and understand your wishes and wants so it needs a good conversation with you both, I imagine. I just wanted to let you know in case you were expecting this to be done a bit "quick and dirty".

If you want, I can get her details and check if she has a web-page.

Cheers,
Vibeke
Many thank Vibeke. One can never have too many recommendations!

As someone in my mid-thirties, I still consider it young

We aren't expecting anything quick really, we've been told to expect 9-12mths of construction. She sounds ideal though, if she has a website or examples of her work somewhere, we'd be interested to see them.

Thanks,
StirB
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Old 01.02.2018, 11:47
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Hi
Sounds good - it's nice that you are taking your time on this. I am swamped this week, but I'll get the details this weekend and post them here.

Regards,
Vibeke
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Old 01.02.2018, 12:48
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Great, many thanks.
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Old 01.02.2018, 23:13
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Hi, my husband and I just moved to Geneva.

My husband is chief and creative director at AFAB architecture, a firm that was founded last year. At the moment they are doing a high-standard refurbishent project in Covent Garden (London), and also a modern store in Granada (Spain).

In only one year of life they got an honourable mention in Allumed-Strong International Competition and got finalists in Concéntrico 04.

They are young and very compromised with their architecture. Their work is very modern, and explore the limit between traditional and the most contemporary architecture.

Just have a look to their website, they could give you a very good price.

www.afabarchitecture.com
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Old 02.02.2018, 07:39
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Re: Looking for Architect to do Renovations

Hi Cassiopeai,

Their design looks very modern, but I don't see any finished work on their website, just sketches. Most of their projects seem grander than doing my house up - do you think they would be interested in my commission?

Thanks,
StirB
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