Renovating a property is a task which is rather daunting and highly personal. Sometimes, the purpose of this work is to ensure the property stands the course of time. And sometimes it is undertaken to enhance the comfort of the dwelling, by modernizing it. Then again, sometimes, it can be indispensible, such as when a boiler breaks down or part of the ceiling falls. So, how should you go about renovating?
What exactly are we talking about?
Renovation work may be minor, like giving walls a fresh coat of paint or changing floor covering or worn tiling. Yet, it can also be more ambitious, like when you totally overhaul a kitchen or replace the roof on a house. Sometimes, new spaces are also created. A family which welcomes a newborn will, for example, perhaps wish to create another bedroom in their home by adding partition walls.
Some homeowners decide to improve the energy efficiency of their homes by fitting solar panels or a new boiler which is less energy-intense. By redoing the thermal insulation in your home, you will reduce your heating bill by up to 30%, according to Suisse Energie.
When should you carry out renovation work?
Every structure has a specific lifetime and should be replaced when it reaches the end of this period. It is estimated that a window lasts for 20 to 40 years on average and outdoor paint should be renewed every 15 to 25 years. A boiler will reach the point of no return after 25 to 30 years. Whenever you purchase property which requires renovation work, there is no need to rush into the work. It is better to take time and immerse yourself in your home for a few months so you can rally have an idea of how you wish to use each room. Refurbishment can only be better if you do this.
Are there any regulations as regards the work?
Yes, if you are in an agricultural area or if you own property listed as a historic monument, otherwise very few regulations exist as regards renovation. As long as you do not alter the outdoor aspect, for example by adding a veranda, then you do not need to apply for a building permit.
As regards freehold property, you should inform the other co-owners that you intend to carry out renovation work. As for an apartment, certain structures are considered intangible. Take for example our client who knocked down a wall in the apartment they had just bought to create an open-plan kitchen. Our client had to rebuild it as it was a load-bearing wall. By knocking it down, the stability of the whole building was at stake.
How much does it cost to renovate?
Renovation prices are extremely difficult to assess and vary greatly depending on the surface concerned, the age of the structure and the level of quality desired. The cost for replacing a kitchen varies between 15,000 and 50,000 Swiss francs. Repainting all the indoor walls of a villa costs roughly between 8,000 and 10,000 Swiss francs, totally overhauling a bathroom can set you back between 20,000 and 25,000 Swiss francs, changing the windows costs between 30,000 and 50,000 Swiss francs and re-roofing costs around 100,000 Swiss francs. It is best to plan for an extra 10% on the total cost of the work to cover any unexpected issues.
To be totally sure, you should call upon professionals from the field in question (painter, electrician, etc.) and ask them for a quote. This will be calculated based on the surface and the volume of work. If the renovation work is only minor – for example, renewing a floor covering – then the owner may also use the various online simulators which propose free cost quotes, such as the one provided by UBS.
When the work is more substantial or complicated, it is advisable to use the services of an architect or independent project management consultant, who will be able to schedule and coordinate all the renovation work. In any event, we recommend going through professionals rather than trying to do the work on your own. Amateur do-it-yourselfers... keep this in mind!
How can the work be financed?
Owners may apply for a loan from their bank to finance renovation work. The bank will generally ask the owner to contribute a certain amount, around 20%, from their own financial assets. You can also use your 2nd pillar, as long as the money invested ensures that the value increases – also known as property capital gain.
Most owners prefer to use their savings however. In this respect, they are not putting themselves into debt for carrying out the renovations; they may, however, need to wait a few years until they have saved enough money to finance the work themselves. If the work is designed to improve the energy efficiency of the dwelling, a series of Federal schemes exist to help owners receive grants.
Would you like more information on this topic? Have you other real estate-related questions? If so, our expert brokers are on-hand and will be delighted to answer your questions and advise you!