Can you hear that? It’s an eco revolution echoing round the Alps. Traditional building methods have resulted in the 1970s ski chalets we’ve all stayed in that haemorrhage heat and waste energy. But now that the government has wised up it’s recently brought in tough laws to make sure all new builds have as little impact on the environment as possible.
These laws have forced developers to look for modern alternatives to the usual high-carbon footprint concrete method of construction – leading to a building revolution across the Alps. They’re turning to state-of-the-art, sustainable timber-frame Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS), which can create homes so energy efficient they hardly need heating – even in the extreme climates of ski resorts! They’re much kinder to the planet in construction too. The lightweight panels are precision cut in factories off-site, minimising waste. Eco ski chalets built with SIPS can be put up within weeks rather than several seasons, cutting down on transport and labour – and lowering costs.
Architect Steven Downs, of ECSUS (Ecological & Sustainable) Design, which specialises in the panels, explains: “For decades everything in the mountains has been built with reinforced concrete – but thanks to the new regulations and programmes like Grand Designs, we’re seeing a surge in ‘green’ methods of construction. People’s perception was that it’s expensive and difficult, but actually it’s more simple to construct and you save in labour, time and waste. The long-term savings on heating bills are huge and you’re also doing your bit for the planet.”
Ski Chalet Wish List
Building your own house, if you can find a plot of land to buy, can in fact save you money over buying an existing property. It’s a win/win – you can get exactly the house you want to your own specifications for the same price or less than an existing ski chalet, and as it will be built to the highest eco standards you’ll save on bills far into the future too.
Even if you’ve had no previous experience of building, this option can be for you. ECSUS Design’s Steven has renovated and built property all over the Alps – from fully managed projects to helping eager self-builders. ECSUS is part of the exclusive French distribution arm of Kingspan TEK – highly energy efficient SIPs (Structurally Insulated Panels).
Building your own home can be incredibly rewarding. Start with your wish list and we can scale it to your budget and level of involvement from there. Making the most of views, location and ease of access should be your initial concerns. Negotiate purchase of the land on the condition that full planning permission is obtained prior to completion.
ECSUS have offices in the Alps, SW France and the UK. They offer a free initial consultation – visit their website www.ecsusdesign.com.
Be smart with your money transfers by using the new rate watch on the Currencies Direct website (www.currenciesdirect.com). It will alert you when the exchange rate falls so you can lock it in with a 10% deposit for up to 12 months, allowing you time to find the perfect property with your budget set.