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août 14th, 2019

The Cost Of Building A Chalet In The Alps

There are so many things to consider when making the decision to build a chalet in the French Alps. Design, style, views, proximity to ski lifts, and finding the right piece of land are all high on the priority list – but budget is usually right at the top. You can already imagine sitting in front of your log fire looking out on snowy mountains, or taking sunny summer alpine hikes from your doorstep. But to make your dream a reality the numbers have to stack up.

It can be hard to find the perfect property ready-built in the French Alps. Most chalets on the market are dated and suffer from low energy efficiency, making them neither friendly to the environment nor to your wallet when paying household bills throughout freezing winters. Estate agents Alpine Property recently revealed that most properties on their books only received low E ratings for energy efficiency.

In addition, ski resorts in and around the Haute Savoie are some of the most expensive for property, with prices averaging around €3800m2 – going up to €12,000m2 in some areas of Chamonix, €8,545m2 in Les Gets and even over €17,700m2 in Megeve!

If you’re determined to fulfil your dream of owning a chalet in France, building your own is the best way to ensure you get your perfect property for the best value.

So what is the cost of building a chalet?

The answer is it depends on who you contract to build it, and how much time and effort you can put into the project yourself. But there are ways to reduce risk (of delays and extra costs), and save money.

These are the costs involved in building a chalet:

1. Buying land

Obviously in the middle of more expensive resorts it will cost much more, but if you’re willing to build in a smaller nearby villages there are bargains to be had. For example this 612m2 plot in Seytroux just outside Morzine is €100,000 – or €163 per m2. You can also save money down the line here by ensuring the terrain is flat (thereby reducing groundworks costs), and finding a plot with services already connected or nearby. Read our blog with advice on buying land for more tips. If you have some land you’re thinking about, contact us with the details and we’ll be happy to advise you.

2. Architect

Usually their fee is around 3% of the estimated construction cost. They usually estimate around €3,000 to €3,500 per square metre (that’s the local average cost of building, although we build much cheaper!). We recommend choosing a local architect, as they know the local planning quirks and the council officers in charge. We have a list of recommended architects here. If you are competent at design, you can save money here by apply for planning permission yourself – as long as your build is under 150m2. If you have a design we can help you with the planning process.

3. Project Manager

The usual charge is 10% of the total construction cost (for the portion of work we oversee). ECSUS Design would be happy to manage your groundworks, SIP structure install and get your chalet air and water-tight with windows and doors, cladding and roof tiles, handing over to you to fit out. If you’re competent or in the trade, we are happy to oversee the SIP structure only, in consultation with your groundworks and fit-out teams. Or we can oversee the whole project, giving you complete peace of mind, as all our projects come in on time and on budget.

4. Construction

Our recent fully-managed projects (2019) have come in at under €2,500m2 HT (excluding tax) – to luxury finish. That includes full internal fit out and handing over the keys. View our recent projects and their budgets here.

If you’re a self-builder and just want us to install the SIP structure, budget for €550-750 HT/m2 of habitable space. Foundations and slab can cost from €300/m2 into €1000s HT/m2 dependant on the building plot and soil conditions.

As an example, here’s a rough guide to the budget for a chalet of just over 155m2 (plus annex and car port at 25m2), which we completed in 2019 near Morzine:

Land worth: €180,000 HT
Architect: €16,500 HT
Project manager (fully managed): €37,000 HT
Construction: €410,000 HT (not including landscaping, kitchen & furnishings)
TOTAL: €643,500 HT (around €772,200 TTC – including tax)

The owner was able to contribute to the project by completing the terracing, painting & decorating and other finishes himself, saving money. In this case, the finished chalet was valued by estate agents at €865,000 TTC. Chalets in the area are valued at between €4,000 and €5550 per square metre TTC. The total chalet project cost the client €4,290m2, but was valued at €5,540m2. Although what it cost was on the low side of average, what we built was certainly not average! It will have very low running costs, it was designed to the client’s taste and eco-friendly.

If we’ve inspired you to make your dream chalet build a reality, get in touch!

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