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Old 02.12.2020, 13:37
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Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

Hi all,

Where I come from, it is possible to buy a small piece of land in the middle of nowhere and build a small cabin as weekend or permanent home. North America is rather vast, so the possibility is of course easier.

Is this at all achievable here in Switzerland? I know lands are heavily zoned/protected (which is a good thing). I can't imagine any other kind of home ownership I would want in my lifetime, it would be a dream come true.

Thanks!
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Old 02.12.2020, 13:48
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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Old 02.12.2020, 13:51
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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Isn't that something totally different? You can build a garden shed and a grill there, but not for living (or even staying for a night recreationally).
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:06
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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Hi all,

Where I come from, it is possible to buy a small piece of land in the middle of nowhere and build a small cabin as weekend or permanent home. North America is rather vast, so the possibility is of course easier.

Is this at all achievable here in Switzerland? I know lands are heavily zoned/protected (which is a good thing). I can't imagine any other kind of home ownership I would want in my lifetime, it would be a dream come true.

Thanks!
The forested areas are generally reserved for fauna. I guess the achievable best is a cabin in a grass area with forests nearby. I may be wrong but I have not seen yet a private cabin in the forest, only the communal properties you can rent for a party.

But, While hiking and biking I sometimes see empty cabins in several stages of decay. Some of them even have a for sale ad. My intuition is that it's less complicate to repair one of the old constructions instead of trying to build something new. The keywords for your search is Maiensäss kaufen.
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:23
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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Isn't that something totally different? You can build a garden shed and a grill there, but not for living (or even staying for a night recreationally).
Yes, but it is probably about as close as the OP is likely to get to realising this wish.

There is also this search term: dauercampingplatz

But, it is not simple: (German: ) https://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/serie-c...ierig/45073256
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:32
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

I guess we need to start talking about the meaning of cabin I pictured something like this in my head https://www.immoscout24.ch/de/d/einf...=176&ci=2&pn=1
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:34
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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The forested areas are generally reserved for fauna.

What if I self identify myself as a deer?
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:38
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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What if I self identify myself as a deer?
Make sure you self identify as an endemic deer, invasive species may be culled How's your goat shed search going?
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:44
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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Make sure you self identify as an endemic deer, invasive species may be culled How's your goat shed search going?

Dealing with "the human condition" issues currently so goats will have to wait for now
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:49
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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I guess we need to start talking about the meaning of cabin I pictured something like this in my head https://www.immoscout24.ch/de/d/einf...=176&ci=2&pn=1
No, the American - or Canadian - way of building anything in the middle of nowhere is not possible here (unfortunately ). For one, there is no middle of nowhere in Switzerland really

A lot of forest here is private property but you can't really build within it. Or buy bits and pieces.

But to the photos you linked: You can find places like this in Ticino and Valais (other places too probably). In Ticino they call them "Rustico" and sometimes there are barely two walls of them left BUT you can rebuild them. Often they are actually old stables, which explains they are in the the Swiss type of middle of nowhere.
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:51
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

Two things you have to research:

1. Is the land buildable?

If it is zoned as forest land, likely not. Hence why forest land is relatively indexpensive - you can't build on it. (But you do have to maintain it...)


Is a second home allowed? (Zweitwohnungsgesetz)

2. Check out the quota available in the Gemeinde.


Your best bet is likely to find an existing home. Look for a Rustico. Generally these cannot be enlarged, or enlargement is generally limited to 30% from the original. Also, you need to think about sewage, water, heat, electric, etc.

---

I once lost my heart to a charming place in the middle of nowhere - had well water, an outhouse, electric ran on an old boat generator, wood oven heat. I looked into renovation with solar panels, better sewage options, etc... Nope, not a chance. The house was built before zoning, in a Hochmoorgebiet. Nothing could be changed, nada. You see, the Gemeinde was just waiting for the place to fall down, then the land would revert to the neighboring nature conservancy area. The owner could use it exactly as it was, but nothing could be done to make it 'liveable'. That's the chance one takes with buildings in non-building zones.

Surprisingly (or not) it sold, for a fair chunk over the asking price. Either someone wanted to live well and truely off the grid, or had a whole lotta local Vitamin B to do an end-run around the regs.

Last edited by meloncollie; 03.12.2020 at 00:08. Reason: Spelling... or old eyes.
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:56
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

yep, I have an old grotto in the woods next to my property. it is on it's own residentially zoned plot of land though. You need to look for an existing building and 'restore' it as these plots are grandfathered and are now all forest zoned where you can't build. Mine had water, drainage and electricity which would otherwise be even more pricey to add. You still need a lot of permission to do any work which might not be granted, so both the plot and the restoration would likely be at least as expensive as buying a small apartment.

it's not something I'd recommend trying without experience.
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Old 02.12.2020, 14:56
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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..North America is rather vast, so the possibility is of course easier....
Yes, but this documentary movie about cabins in the woods advises against using them: Cabin in the Woods
On the more serious side, building-wise the whole Switzerland is separated in two types: Buildzone and non building zone. If the woods are in the Bauzone, than yes, of course you can build, otherwise, only under very special circumstances with a lot of double checking from both canton and Bund

Here is a short leaflet of canton Bern what is possible to build outside of such zones. Btw, even buying an existing old farming auxiliary building (usually shed for tools or animals) you have to keep the main construction intact, and no replacements or extension.
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:00
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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the whole Switzerland is separated in two types: Buildzone and non building zone.
3 actually. building, agricultural and forest.

forest being the most useless of the 3 where you can't do anything.
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:01
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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I guess we need to start talking about the meaning of cabin I pictured something like this in my head https://www.immoscout24.ch/de/d/einf...=176&ci=2&pn=1
Yes, that is lovely ... but when I see needed renovations like that, I want to run for the hills and would prefer to build something on my own.

My ideal spot would be to build something like the following, would happily enjoy something even more rustic / doesn't have to be so fancy. I don't need to be in the woods, I just wouldn't want any neighbors next door / close by.

https://www.greengateguesthouses.com/log-cabin

Thanks for your answers - it is as I thought, seems there are some downsides to living the good life in Switzerland. You can't have it all...

Edit: I enjoyed some time not too long ago in Slovenia - same nature like Switzerland, but more wild. I know the possibility to have my dream home is there... but I would have to wait for retirement it seems. I am not too keen in having a vacation home abroad.
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:05
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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You are usually explicitly not allowed to live there. Some places even have rules about staying over night! They are also definitely not in the middle of nowhere.

OP - have you traveled around Switzerland much? I'm a bit bemused by the question, to be honest. It's pretty difficult to walk anywhere for more than half an hour without coming upon some form of habitation OR a big sign saying that this is a nature reserve/protected area. So you are always going to be either close to a neighbour or have zero chances of building there.
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:33
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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yep, I have an old grotto in the woods next to my property. it is on it's own residentially zoned plot of land though. You need to look for an existing building and 'restore' it as these plots are grandfathered and are now all forest zoned where you can't build. Mine had water, drainage and electricity which would otherwise be even more pricey to add. You still need a lot of permission to do any work which might not be granted, so both the plot and the restoration would likely be at least as expensive as buying a small apartment.

it's not something I'd recommend trying without experience.
Consider yourself envied.
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:45
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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OP - have you traveled around Switzerland much? I'm a bit bemused by the question, to be honest. It's pretty difficult to walk anywhere for more than half an hour without coming upon some form of habitation OR a big sign saying that this is a nature reserve/protected area. So you are always going to be either close to a neighbour or have zero chances of building there.
I've travelled plenty thank-you. One area that would be perfect for such a place would be Val-de-Travers. I don't need 30 minutes distance between neighbors...I just don't want to be able to hear them and have them be within my immediate view.
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:50
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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In Ticino they call them "Rustico" and sometimes there are barely two walls of them left BUT you can rebuild them.
Provided that the roof is intact, otherwise no.

We have one, 200m from the main road, 5km from home, and nearest neighbor 1km, it was refurbished by the previous owner.

Tom
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Old 02.12.2020, 15:52
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Re: Is it possible to build a cabin in the woods?

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I've travelled plenty thank-you. One area that would be perfect for such a place would be Val-de-Travers. I don't need 30 minutes distance between neighbors...I just don't want to be able to hear them and have them be within my immediate view.
But then you are back to not being allowed to build there. Lovely area, my ancestors include those who were very familiar with its remote pathways and how to navigate them while carrying a heavy load, if you get my meaning. Bit chilly in winter, though. My dad has a property in the forest about 2 kilometres away from the next habitation, but that is in France. It's not my thing, I find being so far away from other people creepy rather than relaxing, probably watched too many thrillers to appreciate being the only illuminated spot within a dark wilderness. They can see you but you can't see them
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