Build your own chalet

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This was written in 2014, the numbers are out of date! I have refreshed it in a post late 2019. We frequently get asked how much it will cost to build your own chalet. In general we quote 2500€/m2 as a benchmark. Sometimes we qualify this with “of course it depends on many many, factors”, such as the floor area, quality of materials and fixtures and fittings, easy of building on the site, proximity of services and things like that. But in the end 2500€/m2 is a good place to start. So if you were building a 4 bedroom 140m2 chalet then a starting point would be 350,000 € to build the chalet after you have bought the land.

When I mention these figures to UK-based buyers that know about these things they take a sharp intake of breath. Apparently you can build houses in the UK for much less than that. Closer to 1500€/m2 I’m told and sometimes even less. So why the big difference? Some of my opinions follow:

  1. Everything costs more in the Alps. In particular materials and more importantly labour.
  2. We are not comparing like with like. The “average” chalet in the Alps is higher quality than a cheap house in the UK.
  3. The build methods in the Alps are more expensive. In general the properties have concrete basements and first floors. This makes a very solid property, sometimes due to earthquake and avalanche risks it’s mandatory to build this way. It’s also just “the way it’s done”, much like in the UK houses have traditionally been  built from brick.

There are various things you can do to reduce these costs. Taking each point one by one.

  1. I’m not going to suggest importing your materials from afar or even you labour (though both these things are possible and may save money).
  2. Building a cheap quality chalet is not a good idea, it would be a real shame to waste the worlds resources on building a house that won’t last.
  3. Build methods, there could be money saved here. It may also bring in points one and two. I’m referring to kit chalets.

My neighbour is a carpenter and he has just built a chalet using mostly traditional techniques. The basement is concrete as are some of the first floor walls. The main frame was a kit though, the walls arrived on a lorry and ready built. He’s obviously building on a budget but doesn’t want to live in a cardboard box. His build costs will be well under 2000€/m2.

kit chalet in Samoens

We’ve recently been approached by a ECSUS Design, who have recently completed a chalet in Samoens and are constructing a couple more in Morzine this summer. These guys either design your home or adapt an existing design and fabricate using Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) that are precision engineered and cut to size to ensure an exceptionally quick method of building a highly thermally efficient chalet. The main weather-tight structure can be erected in as little as 3-4 weeks and can be easily finished by an adventurous self builder or they can do the entire job for you. The average costs of the SIPS structure is about 450€/m2 which represents about 30% of the overall costs of a new chalet and means that a fully managed build can come in at under 2000€/m2. Now I can’t act as a reference for these guys but they can offer references if interested. The company is and the SIPs system is They supplied me with the lovely photo of the finished chalet in Samoens. I have used it to illustrate this post.

13 thoughts on “Build your own chalet

  1. Rohan

    Hi Gareth. I am looking at acquiring land in Morzine to build my own Chalet Apartment, and 2 more self contained apartments below as a rental income.

    Not including land purchase, what do you think I should budget for, for around a 250 m square build?

    1. Gareth Jefferies Post author

      Morzine is very location sensitive, your budget would work on the outskirts of town but you might have to double it when in walking distance to skiing or the centre. Properties are now being bought for their land alone and sometimes this figure can be even more.

  2. Laura Cook

    Hi Gareth,
    I am looking at purchasing a plot of land in Samoens, but am not sure what land should cost there so don’t know how to evaluate if it is good value for money or not. Is there a guideline? I know it will vary a lot, based on proximity to town centre, but say around 2k from town.
    Many thanks for any help,

    1. Gareth Jefferies Post author

      it does vary too much for me to put one figure on it. I could say 180 to 250€/m2 when “out of town” and up to 4x that in a top deck position. I’ll ask our agent Lexie to drop you a line so she can offer more “on the spot” feedback.

  3. leon

    hi Gareth, looking to build a huge chalet with my partner, around half a million they said? placed in Girona?

  4. C Graham

    Hi, just wondering your est. €2000/m2, does that include excavation and ground work e.g. concrete base? We have a very small plot of land on a slop in Chamonix and planning has been approved. However not yet found a company to do the build with our small budget and we are looking at all avenues.

    1. Gareth Jefferies Post author

      This post probably needs updating. I recently had a close look at these figures and assuming a “normal” build, and on a piece of land that should not need expensive foundations, I think the figure it more like €3000/m2 HT “key-in-hand”.

  5. Irena

    Thank you for the good read!
    Do you have any experience in re-furbishing cost per m2 or m3? In Swiss alps, German part.


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