Building ski chalets in the Alps is often considered challenging, time-consuming and expensive due to the short construction window outside winter, difficult access and terrain. So when ECSUS Design’s team installed an alpine property in just 5 days it grabbed attention and made the news in both France and England.
The record-breaking build, at 1000m altitude across the Alps in Saint Jean de Sixt in June, was completed using new Structurally Insulated Panel (SIP) technology. This building method has been described as a “revolution for building in the mountains” as it’s much more eco-friendly than traditional techniques, quicker and can even work out cheaper.
SIPS panels are light-weight, high-tech, structural panels that are precision cut off-site and arrive ready to slot into place. That means on-site waste and labour costs are reduced to a minimum.
The panels are so well insulated and efficient that their chalets easily meet the new French RT2012 regulations, which require new builds to be 3 times as energy efficient as previously. Traditional builders have found it difficult to meet this standard within the constraints of building in the mountains, and it had been expected to increase costs by up to 20%.
But Steve Downs, ECSUS Design founder and keen skier, explains: “Due to the speed of construction, less waste, and the easily-maneuverable panels, building with SIPS can actually be cheaper than using traditional alpine methods. It’s also a much more eco-friendly option for construction – and the in-built insulation can allow you to cut your heating bills to almost zero even in the extreme conditions of the Alps far into the future.”
ECSUS teamed up with French construction company CLIX CS to offer chalet builds in Kingspan TEK. The 5-day build – a 2-storey 120sqm property – was followed by construction of a 260sqm luxury 5-bedroom chalet in Morzine in just 2 weeks, and others dotted around the Alps.
The Kingspan part of the build in St Jean de Sixt cost around €90,000, which is added to the cost of buying the land, groundworks and finishings. Once the airtight shell is up, it’s easy for follow-on trades to finish the internal fixtures and outer cladding. Happy homeowner Michael Winterton now has his dream mountain home this winter. He says: “We’d like to thank ECSUS and the team for the support and enthusiasm for helping us getting started on our dream. The system was quick and simple and we’re so excited to spend our first winter here.”
You can see the speed of construction for yourself on the ECSUS Design Youtube channel www.youtube.com/c/ecsusdesignltd with time-lapse footage and video diaries.