An emotional building project

The whole Helbling family worked together to realise their dream of an apartment building. Bank CIC laid the financial foundation – after opening its St. Gallen branch just in time.

The eye sweeps over fields and forests from the Obersee to the peak of the Etzel: the view from the top floor of the new apartment building in Wagen, near Rapperswil-Jona, is breathtaking. The tenants already started queuing without any need for advertising even before the two apartments and the commercial premises on the ground floor were ready for occupation.


They must have noticed that this building bears witness to deep emotion, a love of detail and some family history. The building owners, Thomas and Claudia Helbling, have strong roots in this picturesque region. Thomas Helbling grew up on the farm across the road from the new building. Planning to erect an apartment building, the couple bought the land more than eight years ago. They soon found an architect and a financing solution – but then everything changed.

I wanted to build my dream house myself. The only choice I had was to train further as a construction manager.

Put on ice

"I first had problems with prolapsed discs, followed by the wasting of a thigh muscle. A nerve had stopped working", says Thomas Helbling. "This put an abrupt stop to the project and also affected my career." At that time, Thomas Helbling worked as a site foreman and wanted to build his "dream house" himself. "But the only choice I had was to train further as a construction manager," says Helbling.


In the meantime, Tim, one of this three sons, also started working in the construction industry as an apprentice bricklayer. This gave Helbling Senior the opportunity to make Helbling Junior a tempting offer: "I promised him that he could be site foreman for our building as soon as he passed his final apprenticeship exam."


Thomas and Claudia Helbling

The building owners, Thomas and Claudia Helbling, in front of their elegant apartment building in Wagen, Rapperswil-Jona.

First clients in St. Gallen

The Helblings were finally able to start their building project in September 2017, at the same time that Bank CIC opened its ninth branch in St. Gallen. The head of the branch was an experienced banker who the Helbling family knew well: Franz Osterwalder.


They first met far away from Wagen in 1991, on a boat in the turquoise sea off the coast of Malaysia. Together, the backpackers visited idyllic places on their way to Malacca.  "We were two young and adventurous couples and got along very well from the outset", says Franz Osterwalder.


Their friendship and confidence in one another remained and together they completed the building project with a construction loan. The Helblings were the first clients of Bank CIC in St. Gallen.

Investment properties need flexibility

"The financing parameters are different for investment properties than for owner-occupied residential property", explains Osterwalder. As a rule, the lending value is calculated using the gross rental method. This is done by dividing the rental income by the capitalisation rate. "Usually more own capital is needed to finance such projects", says Osterwalder.


This meant that Bank CIC had to be flexible. This was made possible, among other things, by the fact that the Helbling family did a lot of the work themselves. Claudia Helbling was in charge of finances and interior fittings, while father and son focused on the construction work. They were joined over weekends by sons Yannick, professional footballer with FC Schaffhausen, and Noé, the youngest in the family. "The Helblings are very well acquainted with the market for building materials. This had a positive effect on the prices and quality", says Osterwalder.

Support in all phases of life

Just like Bank CIC has become established in St. Gallen, it has become hard to imagine Wagen without the elegant apartment building. The end of the project does not mean the end of the partnership with Bank CIC, however. The construction loan has been replaced by a mortgage. And every new phase of life brings new challenges. "We want to continue planning our finances with Franz Osterwalder", confirm the Helblings. A good thing that this can be done without detouring via South East Asia.


Franz Osterwalder, Head of Branch St. Gallen

The financing parameters are different for investment properties than for owner-occupied residential property. Franz Osterwalder, Head of Branch St. Gallen, in consultation with the Helblings.