Renovate, refurbish or replace?


With older houses, the question eventually arises whether you should make repairs, do a partial renovation, total renovation or even tear it down and plan a new building. Thomas Ammann from the Swiss Homeowners' Association provides some tips.

by Gabi Hophan

When evaluating renovations, refurbishments or even a replacement, there's no sure-fire remedy. Here are a few tips that will help you make a better decision.

Start with a study

Before you start planning extensive measures, you should have an expert (e.g. architect, energy consultant) conduct a comprehensive study of your property, looking at market and structural aspects and also reviewing building codes. For more details, read «Studies and building codes».

Set a strategy and do some planning

Different solutions will be needed depending on the market potential and building's condition. These can range from partial remodelling to a total renovation to erecting a replacement building. When it comes to renovations, the question arises whether to do it in stages or everything at once. Both options have pros and cons. Find more information in «Building strategies» and «Renovate in stages or all at once?».


As for financing, you should also think about optimising your tax burden and be aware of possibilities for tax deductions. Another topic likewise concerns public subsidies as well as special mortgage loans for energy-efficient building renovations. Find more information under «Financing».

By the way, if modifications are made to the exterior shell, you need a building permit, but not if you are simply replacing windows. However, it pays off to discuss your renovation project in advance with the building authorities in your local community.