New building = Losing the sunset view from my loft

Have been a happy owner in Zürich these last 5 years, enjoying a view both east and west from my wee perch.

Unfortunately last year the house across the way burned down and now they’re putting up a building which will hold 4 apartments, whose height will be equal to my building.

Despite asking the Verwaltung/Building Administration (they say they have no documentation whatsoever) and calling City Hall Building Administrators who also seemingly do not have any information either, it seems there was no way I was to be informed of exactly what they were building, timeline, impacts, etc. Is this normal for Switzerland?

It’s all smarting quite a bit as prior to the Christmas break I had received a preliminary sales price, and now with this new building going up, the number I had planned to list for will definitely be impacted. Do I have any legal recourse on this or is this par for the course?

Thanks for taking the time to read and will welcome any insights.


There should be a publication for this new building.

They could you as neighboor before, but there is no such obligation. It is on you to read the paper or react when you spot some profiles for a new building that may concern your property

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Switzerland puts a heavy burden on real estate owners in regards to getting information, caring for their asset and protecting its value which is often sadly downplayed when assessing the benefits of home ownership.

There is no legal obligation to inform the neighbours when a construction project, private or public, is planned. It falls on the real estate owner to regularly check the construction permit anounces in the “cantonal bulletin” and/or the communal public pillar. Most communes/Gemeinden have a dedicated section on their website, nowadays, so that can help.

Unless they have a specific right they can enforce (right of view, use of their private property for access, utilities or others for which the proper authorisations haven’t been acquired beforehand), the only time at which a private person can object to a project is during the (I’m guessing 30 days in all cantons?) public inquiry.

As a neighbor, during that time, you can view the plans and other documents of the project and register an opposition, or just emit remarks, if you think it warranted. Oppositions are legally binding and must be dealt with. Even if you don’t think you will win, they can delay a project and offer an opportunity to discuss with the project managers/owners. Remarks have no legal weight and can be fully ignored by the project managers/owners.

If the public inquiry is closed and in your situation, I don’t think you stand a chance to make the project change, to the point that it is not even worth addressing it in my view (but you may want to do it anyway if it helps put your mind at rest that you have tried everything you could to protect your interests). For things of lesser impact on the project (like outdoor amenities, specific access or utilities path, …), having a friendly discussion with the project managers/owners can land positive results (or not, some people are a pleasure to deal with and some are just plain awful).


Thanks for your quick reply.

From what I understand, if I don’t read the news, and there is no other notification shared by City Hall/Bauamt, then neither the Original Owner/Neighbour nor the Architect have any responsibility to advise the buildings in the vicinity? eg: impact to the buildling foundation, walkway will now be completely in shadow, etc?

I’m a tad flumoxxed how this can all hinge on a notification in the newspaper.

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for a incredibly thorough reply, I genuinely appreciate your time and support. I just am processing this all at once and now see how there is little I can do in the end. What will come, will come.

Don’t they normally construct building profiles, so you will see this and know something is built. You can also go to the gemeinde planning department to view all submitted building requests.

We did this before we bought our house and saw a large number of houses planned which would impact our view. We went ahead anyway and are now living with the building site for a few more months…


Reckon the unit I purchased did not anticipate any new build as the house that had stood there for a few hundred years burned down. Looking through the Gemeinde Website now for my neighbourhood I see a notice from September 2022 which means that I would have had to make comments then and not now. This is all very eye-opening to say the least. Lesson learned the hard way. Thanks for your insights!

You have a right that the structural integrity of your building doesn’t get affected by the new project. It is worth not waiting until after deteriorations have been observed to address that issue because at that point, it is a lawyers’ war about what was there before or not and what was caused by the new construction or not.

By addressing the topic with the project managers beforehand, they can organize an inspection of your building (usually only the outside of it but you can ask for an inspection of the inside too, they may be willing to accomodate) before the works start so that it can serve as a basis to check if negative effects due to the works happen afterward. At the very least, I would take pictures of my building in order to have a “before” state of it to show to support my claims if something bad happens.

For things like access to the sun or the view, there’s unfortunately nothing that can be done. (Rights of view and such things can be written on the land register but that must be done beforehand and requires the willingness of the owners who loose building rights on their properties, which can be costly).

The silver lining of all that is that private ownership rights are very protected too: if you don’t want a project to use your own land for anything, even temporarily, you can block it pretty much indefinitely (including public projects for which but the most critical ones it is not at all easy to get eminent domain rights and an amenable agreement with landowners is most often the best and privileged solution). Some rights can be enforced (you can’t prevent a property from having any road/water/sewers access at all, though you can fight it happening on your own land if it’s not the easiest/most logical path and are entitled to compensation before any works can start).

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Also to note that building permits have a validity of 3 years (for all cantons?) and can get a single extension. If the building permit is no more valid (which isn’t the case in your situation) and the works haven’t started yet, then the project managers/owners loose all and any right they had to start their project and everything can be discussed once again.

It’s unfortunately not mandatory everywhere yet. I wish it was.

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If a neighbouring house burned down, I’d be checking regularly the Gemeinde planning Office and official publications (newspapers and online) as for sure the chance of a new development is very high.

We never got involved, but out neighbours fought the developments for years (new houses were different character to neighbourhood and tall) but this just delayed and developer didn’t care as house prices were going up the whole time.

Neighbour told me that the developer laughed and told him that they just increased his profits.


Well, as long as the new building respect the local “BNO” (Bau- und Nutzungsordnung, loosely translated construction and usage regulations), there is not much you can do about it.

In my experience, only few people are interested in this criticial document, and mostly not for the right reason (mostly NIMBYs), which means that sometimes, the documents are totally outdated (especially in smaller municipalities)

I’m sure you’re sitting on some fat profits from increased property value by now, if that’s any consolation. Maybe profits fat enough to get a new home with an even nicer view?

He should buy the property/apartment in front of him :smiley:

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Thanks for your reply. Reckon hearing about how your neighbour fought the development and was still laughed at, just goes to show there’s no real consideration taking place. In addition to my learning these last days from this forum is also the fact that none of my neighbours appear to have any concern either. All rather eye-opening to say the least.

Thanks Patirou for the information, thats a new term for me. I anticipate since these builders have apparently crafted several buildlings in the vicinity, they’ll be aligning with the requirements.

Thanks Compounding - I don’t know what my actual property increase would be in the end, now that this new building will be going up and changing the value. Will have to see how it shakes out. Getting a new place is definitely top of mind!

Excellent idea Xerox, now I have a plan to see how much the top floor is across the way :innocent:

Consideration for what exactly? That you don’t have your view anymore?

If there are real issues with a new construction, you can oppose to it and it will be taken into account.

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Hi Dr. Pi, I was reading it as that there was no consideration for the previous poster’s neighbour if they were laughed at by the Builder.

Consideration from developer’s side? They are on the opposite sides in this game. I guess it was also at least in a part a pretense, because I am not sure that taking significantly more time to earn some more money is a good deal. I am not even talking about the outcome bias.

I have interpreted it as you complaining that the public administration and courts doesn’t take into account what neighbours are opposing against. Sorry if I misunderstood. They do, when it is justified.