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Below you will find a selection of the most recent entries from bloggers in the Your Home section.

To view the entries from individual bloggers, click on the links below:

Anna Lascols, Organizing Geneva
Her mission as a professional organizer is to improve people’s lives by coaching them how to set up and maintain efficient systems to keep their time and space in order. Anna helps her clients to visualize their ideal lifestyle and works side-by-side with tem to reach their goals. These can range from redesigning their closet à la Marie Kondo to getting their paperwork under control, improving their time management skills or preparing for the arrival of a baby. Anna is a KonMari Consultant and a member of the Swiss Association of Professional Organizers (Swiss-APO). She works in and around Geneva and provides her services is English, French, German and Spanish. She offers personal organizing sessions, virtual coaching and organizes workshops on various organizing and zero waste topics.

Liz Forest - EMF Management
Liz Forest is the founder and owner of EMF Management, a Swiss-registered renovation project management company servicing the international community in the greater Lake Geneva / Vaud region. EMF handles the heavy lifting so clients do not have to learn a new trade, take time off work, or sacrifice family holidays or their sanity just to make their house a home.

Gareth Jefferies - Alpine Property
Gareth Jefferies left the West Yorkshire Police in 1999 to make a new life for himself and his wife in the mountains.  Responsible for marketing and technology at Alpine Properties, a French-registered estate agency with bilingual agents located all over the French Alps, Gareth is usually the first contact you will have the company. He is always happy to discuss your project with you, usually by email, suggesting various properties and making appointments.

Virginie Dor - Space of Mine
As founder of Space of Mine, a professional business specializing in residential organizing, Virginie Dor is committed to helping individuals and families better their lives, take control of their surroundings and time by creating organizing solutions that are individually tailored to each client. As a proud member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), she is an expert in clutter control, work flow, space planning and time management.

Tara Lissner - Swiss Gardening School
An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans. In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.

Aislinn Delmotte - Settling Here
Aislinn Delmotte runs Settling Here, a company which aims to provide practical help and advice to individuals, couples and families relocating to the Pays de Gex, a region where some of the customs are similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland, but where many aspects of living are entirely different.

Sophia Kelly - Sophia Kelly Home Design
Responding to the growing demand for home design services in the international community, Sophia Kelly provides a range of tailor-made services, which are perfect for clients who have just moved into a new home or who simply need help reorganizing one that they have lived in for many years!

 

 

liz soldhouse

By Liz Forest, www.emf-management.com

It has been ages since I put pen to paper and for good reason; in short, we have spent half the year in the throes of selling our home.

Well actually—the house was signed away in an instant but the months leading up to actual signature were chock-a-bloc full of list-writing and countless trips to the déchetterie, box packing and multiple celebrations in the name of the 13 glorious years we spent as owners of a truly lovely home.

Anyway, in the aftermath of the pack out and settling in, I thought useful to share three of the lessons we learned in the process.

What You Will Owe to the Tax People
As the saying goes, the only certainties in life are death and taxes. In Switzerland, you have 30 short days from the moment you sign away your home to report your sale and capital gain, if any, to the tax authorities. Capital gain is calculated as the difference between your sales price and your original purchase price, adjusted for certain expenses and any value-added transformations you made to the property while you owned it.

There is good reason to take this 30-day deadline seriously. The notary, during the final sales signature meeting, will hold back 5% of the sale price as a guarantee to the tax office of your eventual tax obligation. For the average seller, this amount can greatly exceed any capital gain liability. By making the deadline, you get your place in the queue for processing, which in Nyon District currently amounts to about 4-5 months, and you thus have the opportunity to claim back any/all of the hold back.

In the Canton of Vaud for example, the capital gain tax rate varies between 7% and 30% depending upon the length of time you have owned and lived in the property. Years in which you are resident count as double, meaning that 12 years of owner-occupied housing allow you to reach the lowest marginal tax rate of 7%. On the other hand, if you were to buy and sell in the first year of ownership, you could owe a whopping 30% on any capital gain realised. The Swiss authorities use this sharply digressive scale to discourage anyone from considering short-term house flipping (or more complex real estate speculation).

However, one very important caveat. You are allowed to “adjust” the net gain by certain eligible expenses (e.g., realtor and notary fees) including if you have made and can prove value-added investments over the course of ownership. Think adding on a garage or a winter garden. Generally these qualified expenses are not related to maintenance or renovation (like retiling your master bath), which you would have already deducted on your annual income tax return. In fact, no previously-reported deductions are allowed to be reported to offset the capital gain.

leaves

By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

November brings damp and short days with still lots to do in the garden.

So many colours underfoot while out walking in the woods, a tapestry of tree life, wet and soggy from the downpours and the air fragrant with the scent of damp and decaying leaves - autumn has truly arrived.
My garden is so wet that I'm discouraged from doing too much at the moment, the fact that there has been so much rain does not encourage me and when the dog goes to the door, has a little sniff and turns back into the house I know its not good. But as my list of jobs is increasing by the day, out I go! Read more from the blog here

What's on
This is the season of Sunday openings and special events along with pretty seasonal markets, here are some you may find interesting.

Vernissage de l'Avent, Rémy Jaggi, route de Grens 1, Trélex, Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 November, 16:00-21:00
One of the most beautiful holiday displays will take place this weekend at this innovative florist and nursery in Trélex.
Rémy Jaggi

Château des Bois, Marché de Noël, Chemin de la Combe d'Onex 10, Satigny, Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 November
A magical market filled with seasonal joy.
Château des Bois

Green Christmas Eco Marché, Centre sportif de Founex, route de la Chataigneraie, Thursday 21 & Friday 22 November, 10:00-19:00
The fourth edition of this green market brings together a group of small entrepreneurs with their eye on sustainability. My swiss garden will be present with winter containers filled with seasonal plants and spring bulbs.

apples

by Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

Welcome back to the garden. The long hot summer is coming gently to a close and we are all getting ready for the next season. The gardening blog has been updated and you can read more from it via this link my swiss garden blog.

What's on

Green Harvest Autumn Market, Founex Tennis Club, 26-28 September

Thursday 26 15:00-21:00, Friday 27 09:00-17:00, Saturday 28 09:00-12:00
This is the third green market founded by local resident Sophie Bayliss who brings together small companies trying to find sustainable alternatives in our everyday lives. My swiss garden will be there with recycled pots and containers filled with herbs and bulbs for the autumn, as well as beautiful seeds from Grace Alexander Flowers, drop by to say hello!
Green Harvest Autumn Market

Marché aux plantes, Arboretum, Sunday 29 September, 10:00-17:30
If you haven't already visited this is the perfect opportunity to spend some time at the beautiful Arboretum above Allaman. This small plant fair is in its fourth year and attracts a number of well-known local growers, this is the perfect time to be thinking about adding perennials, shrubs and roses to the garden. Activities for kids are organized, yummy snacks. lunch and drinks are available for purchase.
Arboretum

forsythia

By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

From raging snow storms to sunny afternoons in short sleeves the month of March never ceases to surprise. We feel we are just coming out of the cold of winter with length in the day and sunshine on our faces only to be hit with high winds, cold temperatures and snow. At least we know that the garden is prepared and ready for these crazy meteorological outbursts, even the seemingly delicate spring bulbs manage to withstand the wild weather.

For me March signifies the turning point, the new start, the wake up call. The sun is higher in the sky giving my neglected beds the warmth and light they need to come back to life. This of course is also a wake up call for me to get moving. Now is the time to clear these damp and cold beds of the debris from last year, all the frost kissed seed heads that looked so lovely a few months ago are now a soggy mess impeding the progress of my narcissus. I have a busy few weeks ahead of me. I’d just like the snow to stop and for the rain to only fall during the darkest hours of the day.

The vibrance of yellow always takes my breath away in March. The delicate shades of the first primula followed by the pretty narcissus and the billowing branches of the forsythia heralding the end of winter – such joy.

© credit to EMF in-house photographer Gabrielle Ward

© credit to EMF in-house photographer Gabrielle Ward

The Challenge

How to prioritize your limited renovation budget when you are the new owner of a quaint three-story 120m2 village house that is located on a tiny lane with no land outside of the building’s four walls, three of which are contiguous with other homes?

Said home is situated in the old town of Collex-Bossy, and although the 1800s-era building itself is not classified, it sits in a Zone 4B heritage-protected neighbourhood. This means that relatively stringent cantonal regulations dictate every minute detail of the type of transformation and the choice of materials allowed when converting this space into a cosy family home.

The structure is currently uninhabitable thanks to the discovery of undersized structural beams, rampant wood worm, asbestos and lead. Although the electric radiators and hot water heater still function, current rules insist that the old electric-based heating system has to go.

Finding Solutions

One of the first and most pressing questions among many we tackled to date was how to replace the no-longer-authorised and energy-consuming electric heating system given the lack of a cellar or sufficient technical space for a larger furnace and boiler installation. We looked at the possibility of a heat pump installation hung externally from the second floor but the close proximity of the neighbours’ roofs and windows meant we would be unlikely to meet either physical distance or passive noise rules.

What is more, modern energy regulations in Geneva require that once a roof is reconstructed (remember, we will replace the timber roof truss and insulate the structure to 21st century standards), it must be fitted out with solar panelling and related equipment for heating water—another internal space zapper.

Luckily, after a full though technically-challenging energy audit, we have decided to go forward with a wood pellet heating system with underfloor distribution on the upper floors and radiator units under the ground floor windows. The latter was a compromise as we do not have the ceiling height necessary on the entry level for in-ground insulation plus an underfloor installation. Digging too far down into the stone and earth traditional foundation was also deemed too risky for the solidity of the building.

We found a compact modulable pellet store that will be installed in the very back of the ground-floor technical room that is large enough to minimise the number of deliveries needed throughout the year, thereby reducing recharge fees. Although the vehicles that supply pellets are too large to manoeuvre in the tiny lane, their long-tubed delivery system (similar to that used for oil) will just reach the small discreet recharge panel that will be integrated into the façade of the building.

A Pleasant Surprise

At the outset and during a few rather stressful moments in the planning process, this renovation project seemed to be full of nothing but constraints. However, we have had at least one rather pleasant surprise!

Because the home will be heated with wood pellets, a renewable energy source produced from wood waste, the owner will be eligible for an exemption on the solar-heated water installation and still qualify for generous subsidies. Why, you ask, would anyone in this day and age who is remotely environmentally conscious not want to voluntarily harness the sun’s free energy?

Well other than the obvious reason of budget savings (in the region of Fr. 15,000 for equipment and installation), this home does not have sufficient internal space for the double boiler and converter necessary to receive energy from the thermal roof panels. If it had been imposed on the project by building regulations, it is likely that we would have lost the ground floor guest bath and a portion of the vital technical room.

Instead, we are not only saving part of the project budget which will be dedicated to triple glazing on the new windows, an energy plus, but also we will be economising on technical space leaving more room for living space. A big win for this client.

If you would like to check back on this project’s progress, we will be posting photos and milestones, that is once the cantonal authorities grant the construction permit, so don't hesitate to look in on our website or join up to the EMF mailing list for regular updates.

Author's bio

Liz Forest 200

Liz Forest is the founder and owner of EMF Management, a Swiss-registered renovation project management company servicing the international community in the greater Lake Geneva / Vaud region.

Liz spent the first ten years of her professional career as a free-market micro-economist and project manager. A move to Geneva in 1997 with her young family inspired a change from the corporate world ... and a home purchase over a decade ago taught Liz exactly what property ownership and renovating in Switzerland entails.

In 2013, Liz founded EMF to provide renovation project management services to busy expat homeowners who want to transform their space without the overwhelm. EMF handles the heavy lifting so clients do not have to learn a new trade, take time off work, or sacrifice family holidays or their sanity just to make their house a home.

www.emf-management.com