Things to know about modernizing your home

Modernization work is regularly carried out on old buildings in particular, but also on other buildings. As a homeowner, you can find out here when which measures are recommended, what they cost and what subsidies are available. You will receive two examples for calculating the costs of energy modernization measures as well as an overview of the tax aspects of modernization work. We also explain the difference between renovation, refurbishment and modernization.


When is which modernization work required?

As modernization work often involves quite high costs, it makes sense to spread these over time. By paying attention to high quality, energy efficiency and careful handling of the property right from the start of construction, you can reduce the measures required.


Nevertheless, modernization measures are always necessary. The following work is carried out on average during these periods:

  • After 5 years: Painting and wallpapering the interior
  • After 10 years: Painting the façade
  • After 10 years: Expansion of the cellar
  • After 15 years: Modernization of the heating system
  • After 15 years: Replacing the radiators
  • After 15 to 25 years: Renovation of the bathroom
  • After 15 to 30 years: Renewal of the wooden terrace
  • After 20 years: Modernization of the kitchen
  • After 20 to 40 years: New roof insulation
  • After 30 years: Renewal of the front door
  • After 30 years: New windows
  • After 30 years: New interior insulation
  • After 30 years: Insulation of the cellar ceiling
  • After 30 to 40 years: Renewal of the electrical system
  • After 30 to 50 years: New roof covering
  • After 40 years: Re-insulation of the exterior walls
  • After 40 years: Renewal of the parquet floor


The exact times and measures depend on your personal preference, the building materials and age of the property, the location and your financial resources, among other things. Modernization work is always a good investment in the value and future of your property.


How do I choose the right modernization measure for my home?

If you are faced with the question of which modernization measures are suitable for your home, you can seek advice from an expert. The work that needs to be done before the property is sold is particularly important, as it will significantly increase its value. An experienced estate agent can also advise you on which modernization work is recommended.


In addition, it is always worth considering investing in greater energy efficiency. If you do not already own a property that meets the Swiss Sustainable Building Standard, you can benefit from subsidies and long-term cost savings by taking such measures.


Measures that make heating and hot water in your property more efficient are not only an important investment in terms of cost, but also in terms of environmental protection. You also help to maintain and often even increase the value of the property.


Other modernization work, on the other hand, is aimed more at increasing your own living comfort. It therefore depends on your preferences and financial situation when you replace the flooring or install a new bathroom, for example.


What does it cost to modernize the house?

The costs for home modernization depend heavily on the measure in question. Energy modernization is particularly expensive and requires major investment, especially at the beginning. However, bear in mind that this will save you money every year in the long term, so the investment will pay off in the future.


Accordingly, a profitability analysis is necessary to decide whether to modernize the house. Please also bear in mind that the cost of fossil fuels will increase significantly over the next ten years due to rising levies and taxes, so you will invest a lot today by switching to an environmentally friendly heating system, but you will also save a lot in the medium to long term.


Tip: Find out in your canton what subsidy programs are available for the energy-efficient renovation of your home. You will also normally receive assistance with modernization costs for barrier-free and age-appropriate conversions.


To give you a good idea of how to calculate the approximate modernization costs for different types of property, here are two examples:


Example 1: Renovation of an old building from the 1960s

If you own a detached single-family home that has an area of around 200 m² and dates back to the 1960s, you probably have an oil heating system. When calculating the modernization costs, the first question is the current and the desired energy efficiency class.


Typically, such properties are in the very low energy efficiency class F. This means that comprehensive modernization is recommended in order to achieve the green energy efficiency range between classes A and C. This also increases your living comfort and massively reduces energy costs.


The renovation of facades and heating systems almost always has particularly high potential. You can also consider insulating the roof and basement ceiling and modernizing windows and doors. In this case, an investment of between CHF 150,000 and CHF 240,000 is required if you want to achieve energy efficiency class A.


Significantly lower costs are incurred if you achieve efficiency class C through individual works such as façade insulation and replacing the windows. In many cases, it makes sense to spend a medium amount, which you can supplement with further investments in the long term.


Example 2: Refurbishment of an apartment building from the 1990s

If, on the other hand, you own a more modern property, such as an apartment building from the 1990s with four parties and a total area of 500 m², then you probably have gas heating. These buildings typically already have a medium energy efficiency class, such as D.


Even minor modernization measures can significantly improve the energy balance of the property. Switching from gas heating to an air heat pump and a solar system, for example, would catapult the house directly into efficiency class B.


Bear in mind that some cantons also promote the replacement of fossil heating systems with renewable energies. If you also insulate the roof, façade and basement and replace the windows, which would result in energy efficiency class A, you should expect total costs of between CHF 110,000 and CHF 200,000. You share these costs with the other parties in the property.


Tip: It is worth planning a long-term renovation strategy for large investments. If you own a condominium, you can also find out about the renewal fund and its management.


What expenses for home modernization can I deduct from my taxes?

The basic rule in Switzerland is that you can only deduct value-preserving investments in real estate from your taxes. Value-enhancing conversions, on the other hand, are not tax-deductible. At the same time, however, your assets increase so that you still benefit from the conversion.


There is an exception if you carry out modernizations that serve to protect the environment. These are subsidized by the state thanks to tax breaks, as the expenses are fully deductible. It is therefore important that you keep all receipts in a safe place so that you can attach them to your next tax return.


If you own a property that you rent out, the tax deductibility is different. Here you have more extensive options for saving taxes in the context of modernization. Ask your tax advisor about this, as different regulations apply in the cantons.


What counts as home modernization and what doesn’t?

Modernization measures must leave the house in a better condition than it was before. This can relate to the energy balance, but also to the market value, the fixtures and fittings or the aesthetic appearance.


Accordingly, there is a difference between purely cosmetic work, which only serves to rectify faults, and upgrading work. The difference between renovation, refurbishment and modernization can be illustrated as follows:

  • Renovation: This is an improvement, not a modernization. Typical work consists of wallpapering the walls, painting the façade or renewing the floor covering. Rather than increasing the value of the property, the aim is usually to maintain it.
  • Refurbishment: Refurbishment involves the repair of serious defects, thanks to which you restore the original quality of the property. These measures are more expensive than renovation, but also help to maintain the value. Examples include the removal of mold or the repair of a leaking roof.
  • Modernization: This is where you actually improve your property, which also increases its value. One of the main objectives is usually to reduce energy and water costs in the long term. Modernization work on the house typically includes insulating the roof and exterior walls, installing new insulating windows or installing a modern heating system.

Do you have further questions about modernizing your home? We would be happy to provide you with a free online consultation!

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All data are without guarantee. The information on these Internet pages has been carefully researched. Nevertheless, no liability can be accepted for the accuracy of the information provided.


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