Buying a new build

Hi everyone,

I am looking to buying a new build (an apartment in a new building) off plan and I have read the contact (werkvertrag) which has some concerning elements. Such as if there are defects then liability is passed onto the buyer to discuss with the contractors and not the seller and also the buyer incurs all additional costs before building completion.
I wanted to know from those who have bought a new flat/apartment about their overall experiences with it and what to look out for in contracts etc.

Thanks in advance.
Basil

Hi Basil,

I have gone through the process twice in Switzerland, but both with houses.
Essentially if you feel you can trust the person in charge of selling, then you’ll be OK.

We were supplied with a long list of contractors for every possible thing. We dealt with an architect in one caee and a small family business in the other until the work was complete.

Of course final payment should not be made until you are 100% satisfied with every thing - and there will be problems.

Also budget for somewhere between 10% and 20% more than the asking price as I am sure you will want to upgrade the standard spec.

Fianlly, buying was the best thing we did!

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Thank you for sharing, did you stipulate this in the contract in order for things to run smoothly?

Through experience, I’m going to disagree with you here.

Additionally:

Make sure the specifications are absolutely clear, unambiguous and water tight. If the building works are running over budget -which is really a possibility, they may try and leave features out or substitute cheaper alternatives.

Even if everything is done properly, the flat is finished and you are 100% satisfied and you have made the final payment - you may get faced with bills yourself a year or so down the line which should have been paid by the seller/building contractor but were not such as from the Gemeinde for sewage works etc.

And, always buy a parking space or two even if you don’t have a car. A place without one will be less attractive when you eventually come to sell.

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Thank you, much appreciated.

An acquaintance purchased off plans during COVID. The construction costs rose and were shifted onto the buyer (10-15%). There seemed to be no way out for the seller for unknown reasons (I think they could have rescinded, but house prices in the area had risen significantly since the contract was signed, so they were better off continuing).

Then, once the construction was near its end, the construction company determined that the designed pumped drainage wasn’t sufficient for the location and declined warranty unless a more robust one is done; the extra cost to fall on the buyer who considered litigation at this stage. Not sure how it will end; months are passing by.

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There are so many bear traps with new builds that I personally would avoid and buy something already built. Except if I really wanted to build something custom and money was no object.

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My wife and I bought a house off-plan also. It turned out very very well and I can share some thoughts as to elements that might have helped that to be the case.

Overall, I think we had a good team and we tried to support them in an open and approachable manner.

We built a relationship with the architect straight away. When there were design questions, we talked them through in an understanding manner. We had the advantage though that this build was his primary focus (at least at the start).

We visited the property often and chatted with the teams (teams that we still approach for any home improvements we’re thinking of).

The mortgage contract involved payments with completion of certain milestones. At these junctures, we would take time to understand what these milestones were, and tried to be fair and professional with our feedback (I was a PM in previous roles), which is helpful to understand their position when it comes to changes, and understanding of what should be discussed as a ‘change’ and whether it’s really necessary, and how to use the documentation to make that point. I think this was appreciated.

Overall, we only ‘caught’ a couple of minor things, and there was no rancour about it. The subcontractors the architect used were good (and we still see them every now and again for our work or in the village on new places).

This is the point about trust as another poster made. It’s going to reduce the possibility of something done incorrectly, but checking on you part also (with the right attitude) helps to reduce the risk further.

Only other point I’d make - choosing fittings. Phew. That can get super tedious, but you’ll be stuck with the choices for as long as you live there. Be patient, don’t try to pack it all in, take your time.

Hope some of this might be helpful. I absolutely love our property and I hope you can experience the same feeling. The cost isn’t the only investment needed to get this right.

Cheers.

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Really appreciate this feedback Tony, I agree it is sometimes how we approach things that makes a difference.

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Yes reviewing the contract is a must! Thanks Phil.

Yes I also heard that COVID caused an increase in prices, hopefully it works out for your mate, sounds like a tough time.

I know someone caught out by covid price rises. They knocked down their bungalow to build a bigger house on top and you guessed it, Covid hit after they knocked down the house and their build cost doubled and they couldn’t afford it any more.

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Same here. Two families bought the house next door to where we used to live (probably the best block in the town) around 2019, expecting to knock it down and build a fantastic 2-family construction. The seller didnt’t want it to go to a developer.
However council approval delays and COVID hit, and by the time they came out the other side they could no longer finance due to the building costs. So they ended up selling…to a developer.

In Switzerland, it my feeling that you need to have significantly more funds in reserve for a new build to avoid shattered dreams. Unfortunately that is money most people don’t have, so the developers are making all the money.

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