Apartment renovation - questions


Hoping to renovate our apartment in Geneva starting with the kitchen and parquet. Anyone know the following:

1/ Is authorisation from Geneva required for this type of interior only work? The most significant thing we will do is remove a partition / non-structural wall.

2/ We will buy our kitchen in Italy and they will come and install it apart from the electrics and plumbing which they say must be done by Swiss specialists. Anyone had experience of getting their Kitchen in France, Germany and Italy. Any advice?


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I don’t think that “Geneva” needs to approve. But you may want to check the regulations of your condominium owners association.

  1. No, you don’t need planning permission for interior remodelling like that. Anything structural would need to be cleared with whoever is responsible for the building, and that may also apply to new plumbing if it may have an effect on other apartments, e.g. if you’re putting in a new toilet right next to a boundary wall.

  2. Not to that level, having done the actual kitchen installs myself (4 so far, 3 in rental apartments, the latest in our own) but we got a granite worktop fitted recently by a company from Thonon in France. There’s a bit of paperwork for them to do, so we had to pay the Swiss VAT (the providers submitted the paperwork online, Swiss Douanes contacted us straight way and I paid by bank transfer before they were allowed to cross the border) but the price excluded the higher French VAT so it was worth the hassle. EU workers are allowed a maximum number of days working within CH, but it’s up to the employer to ensure they have the correct paperwork, not you. Although of course you should check that they have in case there’s a problem mid install.

The electric and plumbing works don’t legally need to be done by Swiss tradesmen, but if the Italians did it you’d need to pay a Swiss company to inspect and certify it afterwards. If you do it yourself, as I do, then no certification is required. At least legally speaking, but again your building may have it’s own rules about such things.

I assume you own the apartment, otherwise…

Thanks for the comments. I had read the Office des autoristions de construire web site an it is not clear to me although my French is not good… Why does it say Villa. Does this include PPE apartments. Then there seems to be an accelerated process I copied below including a reference to interior work in existing buildings.

Travaux pouvant ĂŞtre entrepris sans autorisation

Constructions de très peu d’importance sous réserve des dispositions relatives à la protection du patrimoine :

  • travaux Ă  l’intĂ©rieur d’une villa pour autant qu’ils ne modifient pas la surface habitable du bâtiment ;
  • Ă©dification en zone Ă  bâtir de constructions de très peu d’importance, Ă  savoir cabanes amovibles de dimension modeste, soit de l’ordre de 5 m2 au sol et 2 m de hauteur, pergolas non couvertes et antennes paraboliques dont le diamètre n’excède pas 90 cm pour les installations individuelles et 130 cm pour les installations collectives;
  • en cinquième zone, la crĂ©ation de jours inclinĂ©s en toiture d’une surface infĂ©rieure Ă  1 m2.

But elsewhere I see:

2. Types d’autorisations

Le type de demande dépend des travaux envisagés.

Demandes en procédure accélérée

La demande par procédure accélérée (APA) s’applique aux travaux suivants :

  • construction projetĂ©e en cinquième zone aux conditions prĂ©vues par le titre II, chapitre VI de la loi sur les constructions et installations diverses lorsque aucune dĂ©rogation n’est sollicitĂ©e, telle une villa ;
  • modification intĂ©rieure d’un bâtiment existant ou travaux ne modifiant pas l’aspect gĂ©nĂ©ral de celui-ci ;
  • constructions nouvelles de peu d’importance ou provisoires ;
  • Ă  titre exceptionnel, travaux de reconstruction prĂ©sentant un caractère d’urgence.

Yes we own it.

A villa is a detached or semi-detached house.

But doing internal modifications that don’t affect the exterior appear to not need any authorisation from the canton or commune. As I would expect.

But anything that could affect the building, such as additional plumbing or increased electrical load could require approval of your co-owners.

We did a similar renovation a few years ago. Knocked down a wall and replaced the kitchen. No approval was required for the wall.

You don’t need an approval then, but you might want to check with your neighbours/owners association or at least let them know you’ll be doing this renovation and give them a heads up about the hours they will be working in your house. Otherwise the neighbours will be wondering why that noise etc. We had some threads on EF when neighbours became really pissed at other people doing renovations in their homes. I suppose you want to maintain a friendly relation with them. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the comments. Thought i would try contacting the Office des autorisations de construire in Geneva and got the following reply very quickly:

Nous vous confirmons que les travaux de rénovation et transformation d’un appartement sont soumis à autorisation de construire selon l’art. 1 LCI.

Ce sont les travaux projetés à l’intérieur d’une villa isolée ou en ordre contigu qui ne sont pas soumis à autorisation de construire, sous certaines conditions.

So is this a specific Geneva thing perhaps.

For those who, like me, prefer these things in English, by courtesy of DeepL , the following text.
Usually their translations are pretty accurate. If someone disagrees, please let us know.

“We confirm that the renovation and conversion of a flat is subject to planning permission in accordance with art. 1 of the LCI.

Work planned within a detached or semi-detached house does not require planning permission, subject to certain conditions.”

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Just to close this I called an architect, spoke to my building regie and called the Geneva authorisation office again. Turns out even for changing your parquet you need an accelerated authorisation which is still a nightmare. However many maybe most people do not get one because the process is complicated and quite often you are asked to replace your front door with a modern one able to resist fire for an hour which costs 5k. I was advised by both the architect and building regie not to bother if i wasnt doing anything too structural. i also checked the archives and there havnt been any authorisatios in my building since the 80s. And i know my kitchen and all the bathrooms in the building were renovated. I you get caught you have 60 days to submit an application. No fine. So no way when i finally get organised.

You remind me of an article I once read about a country (Brasil?) which explored why everything was a black economy. The journalist tried to start a simple sewing repair business via official channels and the process was so bureaucratic it would have taken months of form-filing and permits to do officially.