Building Procedure

Building Permit

Since Switzerland is a federal state comprised of 26 Cantons, there are 26 different Building Laws.

Building permits are usually obtained from the local authority where the construction work is to be performed. The local authority coordinates with the authorities of the Canton and all other instances involved in issuing the building permit.

Building Permit essential

Although there are 26 different building laws, all Cantons require building permits for:

  • construction of buildings of a certain size or volume
  • deconstruction of buildings of a certain size or volume
  • excavation work of a certain magnitude
  • modifications to existing buildings of a certain magnitude
  • modifications to the usage of existing buildings under certain circumstances

Building Permit unnecessary

Building permits are not required for:

  • minor buildings that adhere to rules and requirements specified by the Cantons or the local communities
  • minor modifications to existing buildings that neither change the building structurally nor it’s appearance
  • upkeep of buildings

Requirements

All Cantons require the following for issuing a building permit

  • display of the dimensions of the building using on-site profiles
  • all documents necessary to enable the authorities to assess the project
    • extract of the title register (cadastral register)
    • detailed drawings and plans of the property and the building
  • if necessary, further documentation is necessary:
    • foto-documentation
    • models
    • static calculations
  • power of attorney, if the applicant is not the owner of the property in question

Procedure

The local building authority

  • examines the application for a building permit and
    • coordinates with other authorities for further permits, if necessary
    • requests modifications to the plans or other documents, if necessary
  • approves the application on a preliminary basis and
    • publishes the project in the official gazette
    • provides public access to the entire documentation for a specific period, e.g. 20 days
  • makes a final decision and
    • approves the application and grants the building permit, or
    • denies the application

Remedies

The decision of the building authorities to (i) deny a building permit or, in the case of an interested third party (e.g. a neighbor), (ii) grant a building permit, can be appealed to a higher administrative authority. Swiss federal law stipulates that decisions of administrative authorities have to be appealable to a court of law. The Swiss federal court has final jurisdiction.