Not Real Estate post, but seeking for advices :)

Hi everyone.

This is not the right place for such post, but since I found very helful advise in this community, and somehow linked to real-estate, I post this message in this section. If the moderator sees the need to move into another one, please do so and thanks for that.

This is going to be a long wall-script, so thanks for your patience should you want to proceed till the end.

I’m seeking for advices in regard to a situation.
We’re future owners of an apartment in construction. We had the possibility to ask for some upgrades/adjustments during the implementation. So far, all requests were handled properly.

But very recently, during an inspection, we realized that one of the request was not deployed as we wished: this is about the flush doors into the wall. There are many words and definitions in German to describe such kind of doors, but the picture below is, to my understanding, self-explanatory. Is not equivocable.

We did show kind of picture to the Architect (not the one below, but another even more precise), to ensure the request was clear.

To better contextualize the situation: apart from the first F2F meeting, we always exchanged emails with the Architect, we write in English (sometime in German), he replies German. He never complained about that. So our assumption is that whatever we ordered/wrote/expressed to him, even in english, it was very well understood

Now, coming into the core of the topic.

At the beginning, he provided us an offer with a specific settings of doors (he used in the object of the email: Die mündliche richofferted Der raumhohen blockrahmen zimmertüre beträgt pro ture).

The offer, was circa 3K CHF / door (I’m indicating the price for a reason I will explain later, below).

In the offer, there was the technical description the door, the frame and other details: all of these, quite technical. What we undestood, is that the doors were till the ceiling, so not-standard, then costing more.

We replied him, it was OK to have it with the standard high, so 2.10 mt. We always highlighted we want to have the flush door into the wall, and also sending a picture (this time also 3D Studio Max Render of our future living room, with the outlook of the doors). To our understanding the wording and the picture was really, really clear. No reason to doubt.

He replied with another offer: Mundliche richofferte zur quetschzargenturen, hohe 2.10 mt mit anpuktante, pro ture. Cost of new setup is circa 1K CHF /door.
Same, it gives further technical details. He also reported: Achtung; Türen werden nicht identisch wie auf Beispielbilder aussehen.
Beispielbilder mit Leichbauwände und Weissputz. Es wird eine feine sichtbare Doppelkante um jede Türe geben…
This seems to be a critical passage: We understand he mentioned about the fact the finishing of the doors would not be as the same as the wall, due to the different material of door and wall and the fact between door and wall we could see a double edge, which is the frame. This was acknowlewdged, and we did not see nothing on his email saying that these won’t be flush doors into the wall, but only about the finishing and the visibiliy of the frame.

We replied to the email, with further questions like: what is this component (it was a code from the manufacture of the frame), total costs etc, and also asking for a picture of how the result will be like: this is another key aspect.

He replied to the points, and informed that definite offer would be sent soon, including photos.
After a couple of days, he sent us the offer: Im anhang die definite offerte der 5 innenturen mit quetschyargen und verdeckten bander. Ebenfalls fotos and und ein detailplan dazu. Attached, the offer from the manufacturer, and other very technical details. Plus also a reference picture of the doors. In the offer, 450 CHF /door: please note this particular.

The picture of the doors, was the only thing we could really understand, as all other were details of components etc.

We saw the pictures, which were matching with what we wanted, so for us was OK.

We replied to the email (not yet signing the offer), confirming we want to proceed with the flush doors and asking further question about how the finishing of the door will look like, as for us key aspect is to have a very close finishing compared to the wall, as these doors are in the living room.

He replies VielenDank für die Rückbestätigung der Quetschzargen mit verdeckten Bändern. Die Türoberflächen können wir zu späterem Zeitpunkt mit den Wandoberflächen besprechen. And at the same time, he was pressing to get the signature as the order was required to be issued immediately.

We didn’t ask why the cost were lower than he reported into the oral offer (1000 CHF vs 450 CHF), assuming the difference was about the finishing of the door, which was expected to be discussed in a later stage.
Not being experts on this field, we trusted he understood our expectation, then we signed the offer.

So the topic was silent till when, recently, when we visited the apartment to check something, we realized that the final result of the doors was not what we wanted: basically, the effect of wall flush into the wall, was not on the side of the living room, but on the side of the bedroom. We were speechless: even a 10 years kid would understand that the flush doors were expected to be visible in the living room (does it make sense to have it in the room? Wasn’t enough clear in the 3D render the picture which shows the doors from the living room view?).

Immediately we call the Architect and he tried to push back saying that this was done base on our order and what we signed.

We asked for a meeting, to discuss urgently the topic and find a solution.

I sent contextually an email, reporting our complain, attaching the email where we mentioned several times the flush doors and the 3D render, which for us made the request very clear. He maintained his position, that we signed that specific order and this is what was implemented.

When we met a couple of days later the Architect, we explained once again everything. His position was always the same: we signed the order which contains the description of this frame and this is what we got.

Basically, we signed the offer containing a special frame. This frame allows the flush door but only to one direction (meaning, pulling the door). He shown us that we signed the adjustment of the foor plan too, as the width of the wall was required to be 4 cm larger to host the frame. And, based on his explanation and given the floor plan shows the opening of the doors is in the direction of the beedroom (99% of internal doors open like that, nothing special), it was - for him - cristal clear that was the only way to mount that. When we highlighted the fact in the offer he sent us the picture of the doors to be like, he replied that this was the view from the “inside the bedroom” (this was very, very annoing - I must say I had to put a lot of self-control), but in the email he didn’t mention the direction, so we interpreted as the view from the living room (as we never changed our mind about that, and the pictures we sent, including the render, shows clearly that).

This is quite unrationale, and sorry to say, bullshit. If would have had informed us about that, of course we would stop the request asking to correct it. And at this point, we think there was a clear intention - maybe - to cover himself, once he realized that he likely did something wrong.

Long-story-short: since we signed the offer with this frame, plus also signing the floor plan where the doors are opening in the direction of the bedrooms, his job was done correctly. Plus, with bit of arrogance (this is my perception), he said that if we want to have the doors like we want (and this was really annoying, as this was our initial and only request in that regard), we have 2 options:

  1. Unistall the old frames and install the frames in the opposite way, meaning, we would have the flush door into the wall, visible from the living room, but the opening of the door would be with pulling, which is quite unconvenient. Cost for redo the work, circa 1K CHF /door (mostly is the new frame to order and the work in the wall).
  2. Order new type of frame (and maybe also new kind of doors), to have the door flush into the wall and the opening with pushing. Indicative cost, 5K CHF /door

I didn’t want to stress the situation furthermore, as I understood he was not willing to reconsider his position: since we had to keep the situation still manegable (apartment is not yet completed, plus other requests we need to present) and to avoid not fruitful escalation, we asked for an offer for both options and follow-up. I also wonder why, he suddendly understood what we want and propose how to implement that. Wasn’t that clear since the beginning?

This is the situation, as we speak. I am prepared to read many comments like (why you didn’t ask before, why you didn’t check properly everything…etc.): you are right. And that’s something makes myself miserable, as I do that in the majority of situations.

But in this case, by clearly mentioning the i) flush door into the wall, ii) sending pictures and evenmore iii) the render of the living room and how we would have expected to be, for me the requirement was clear.

I tend to believe the true is in the middle: we should have checked more carefully what we were signing. The architect should have been more clear, reaching out to us if something was not clear, and be transparent with the expected outcome. But again, having the signature, the situation legally is mainly on his favour.

But I do believe there is a inherint vice: if we asked expressively something (and the email can document that), and the architect didn’t understand and sent us an offer which was not 1:1 with our order, I guess that the signature we made could be contestable, for legal purpose, if we can explain the complete narrative and demonstrate that the story lines shows unclarity from his side about the effective outcome.

While waiting for the new offer, this is what I think to prepare:

  • Involve a Surveyor/Architect to consult if based on the email, the conduct of the Architect was clear or not. In case he/she will confirm our assumption then:
  • Involve a Lawyer to consult if there are the legal pre-requisite to call an instance against the Architect, to avoid the payment of the re-work but only the effective work and materials, like ordered from scratch.

Indeed, we want to pay fairly: if a new frame and new doors are required, and there is a difference in respect to the original/default ones, we defintely want to pay. We do not want to pay for the frames ordered which do not fit with our purpose, and not pay for the additional work required to dismantel the frame, redo portion of the wall etc.etc.)

My gut feeling are telling me that:

If we do not involve anyone, it’s our word against the Achitect’s one. We have no chance to get the things fixed differently (than accept paying and stop).

I wanted to get the offer to have a something binding for them. In case I involve a lawyer and there is likelihood to demonstraint an error from the Architect, I was thinking if he could decide (based on whatever excuse) to do not implement the request, out of spite. In this case, that would be a boomerang for us, as our intention is to get our request implemented, but with a cooperation (in terms of cost) from the Architect, as the lost in translation, cannot be only on our side.

As said, thanks for your patience to arrive till the end.

Any advice, suggestion, remarks, are very well welcome.



1 Like

Hi Cappucino,

Construction projects tend to have high importance for the buyers and can have a noticeable impact on peace of mind. So are legal procedures, which can last for years, cost an arm and not yield the expected results.

I would, as you seem to be planning to do, consult with a lawyer specialized in construction. If they say pursuing legal ventures is not worth the cost (monetary and in lost peace of mind), I would trust them and not push further in that direction. If they say it is worth pursuing, I would take upon myself to continually assess whether the intended result is indeed worth the costs (the lawyer gets paid by the hour, their interests are not inherently aligned with yours and only you can assess the true cost of the drain on your finances and peace of mind).

There are two aspects I would want to assess in this situation:

  1. Can you enjoy living in your appartment in its current setup? If not, the doors need to be changed to something you’ll enjoy, whether at your costs or those of the architect.

  2. Is the point above, that is whether you want to seek legal remedy or not. Once again, I find important to outline the costs of such procedures, which tend to extend in time.

One unrelated thing I would want to make sure of is that I will enjoy living with my future neighbors: if things need to be sorted out in the PPE agreement, this is perhaps the last time it can be done without too much trouble. It becomes more complicated once the developer leaves the scene and everybody is left to their own devices.


Hi @Cappuccino
I’m very sorry to read what happened. As you describe, these situations can get really blurry. Like @Wolverine mentioned: legal procedures can become heavy to manage and what you want is to solve a door issue. The best would be to find a common agreement between you and your architect.

By curiosity, can you send me a small image the executed door detail and the plan by DM?
To have a correct image of the situation and to see if a <5k alternative detail is possible.

By the way, since you mention that you’ll have other requests or decisions to make, ask for a face-to-face meetings and, if possible, always ask for material and colour samples to get a visual idea of the options proposed. These two small details are very important to reduce the likelihood of unexpected results. In addition, ask for minutes of the meetings to ensure a smooth follow-up, decision planning and overall construction process. I’m well aware of all the deadlines involved in construction phases, but I’m also aware of the time future owners need to make a house their home.


Hi @Wolverine,

Many thanks for your inputs and suggestions: at the end, what is done is done, and I slept over it two nights till now. The more I see it progressing, the more I do see that I should focus on finding a solution than trying to fight against the windmill, like Don Quixote.

I do have as part of my insurance plan, also a legal protection. I will check (hopefully for free) with such service how this is seen from a legal prospective. Even if I won’t apply for that, at least - and this is just to make myself less miserable in this whole story - I would accept the situation in a different way.

I do also agree with your point about the neighbors: we may do the extra-mile now, considering all these details, and who knows if in the future we realize that family living next to us is too noisy or whatever… I know people who decided to sell and purchase another apartment because the clashing with other owners.

Thanks a lot,

1 Like

Hi @Architect ,

Thanks for your feedback and your kind offer.

The doors are not yet installed (and execution order not yet sent by the supplier, at this that was the good part: we asked him to pause the order), only the frames. With the plan itself, there is no way to understand if these doors were supposed to be “normal” or flushed into the wall. I’ll give you bit more details over DM, and thanks in advance for your time to check that.

The other requests we need (apart from the doors), is about technical documents of the building, required to obtain an energy certificate: nothing about the apartment itself.

About the common agreement with the Architect, I’m afraid there are no room for negotiation. His PoV, the work was done based on what was ordered, so he sees that as “change request”. I politely ask him to consider that there was a clear misunderstanding between both parties and to quote the new order thinking about that, and where possible, calculate the cost accordingly, trying to make up an offer which is not too aggressive.
He said OK, but of course this means everything and nothing: we have to wait for the offers and see the final figures.

Thanks a lot

Activating your legal insurance is probably worth it. If this situation falls under the things they cover, they’ll try to minimize your costs rather than having you win in courts. The likely outcome, in my opinion, would be the architect taking part (or all) of the bill (they do have liability insurance too, afterall) and you paying your deductible.

I’ve used such policy once against a former landlord, opening the case is somewhat stressful (transmitting everything so they have what they need to work with) but they handle things and request your input for important decisions afterwise, so not so much stress outside of the question of the outcome. They may want to tackle part of the procedure with their own lawyers/jurists so I would call them first before tacking any other legal action.

Good luck and take care.

Hey, I think you are right about the story, but for sure you got too emotional about this issue.
Emotions do not let us see the bigger picture, and blocks our thinking.
To consider a law suit for this story, when you also have still ongoing tasks with this architect, is not too rational in my opinion.

You need to defend your part, make the architect understand you’re mostly right, and compensate with him on future points you might have as new requirements, where he could help you.

Building a house needs entrepreneurship. If you own a business, you consider that you can win or lose short term, but you focus on the longer term. Otherwise you lose on the longer term. There are up and downs and you don’t panic, you don’t get angry. You want to win on the long run=enjoy your house and feeling good in it.