Building with Quality
Alfred Müller AG maintains a tradition of high quality and high training standards. An interview with CEO David Hossli, who explains how important this tradition is for the company.
Mr Hossli, how do you ensure quality in construction?
A good price-performance ratio is essential for us. The perception on whether a standard of design is a good one can be quite personal. That’s why we place great value on choosing materials that are timeless and functional products that hold up to daily use. Our specialists know the market and have the experience to discern which products meet our high standards. We also ensure high quality by keeping our experienced site managers up-to-date with targeted further training. Our site managers don’t have to worry about flat-rate fees – they can use their time to manage and oversee construction.
What distinguishes a high-quality flat or commercial space?
For me, a good layout is absolutely essential. With both residential and commercial space, there’s a lot that one can get wrong here – or right. You can sense when you enter a flat with a well-designed layout. Much can be made of a compact flat with a clever floor plan, if it’s combined with a skilfully executed interior design. A well thought out, multifunctional layout is also very important for commercial buildings. Tenants can quickly sense whether the floor plan fosters cooperation and if the interior design supports the corporate culture.
Have the demands of tenants and owners changed in the last decade?
Definitely. The wishes and requirements that people have for the space around them undergo constant change; societal and technological developments accelerate this change. Real estate, however, is durable. Most buildings exist for a period of about 100 years. So you have to develop a sense of which societal developments have the potential to influence architecture.
What extra costs are owners prepared to accept when designing a freehold flat for their individual preferences? What do they spend the most on?
It’s quite individual, and can be anywhere between nothing and several thousand francs. When people have the money to do so, they like to invest in floors, kitchens and bathrooms. It’s our challenge to ensure that the design standard we offer in our sales literature can be adopted without the buyer needing to spend anything extra in changes.
“You can sense when you enter a flat with a well-designed layout.”
Which quality defects would give you sleepless nights?
Fortunately, I sleep very well. There’s a solution to almost everything. The question is always how costly will remedying the defect be. Leaks and damp problems are challenging because it’s often not easy to find the cause. A difficult and tiresome situation for those affected, so open communication is crucial to maintain trust.
Do you build differently in different regions of the country?
Yes, there are pronounced differences. I can’t build exactly the same way in Zug, Burgdorf, Neuchâtel and Lugano. Customer preferences differ. In Ticino, for example, balconies are more important than they are here, due to the climate, whereas in Zug, people are probably more willing to pay for a flat if the kitchen has a built-in wine cooler. In other regions, an affordable price is more important than interior design features.
Where do you personally place the most value on quality?
I believe that materials are important. They should look and feel good quality, and be durable and easy to care for. I also look for solid craftsmanship. A well-made cut with a trowel as a separating line in the plaster where different surfaces meet or in corners gives me pleasure.
Where do you live?
I have the privilege of owning a lovely home with a small garden in a residential estate. It was important to us to have, instead of an extravagant design, a timeless, understated configuration which will allow us to sell the property later.