In addition to
being well-insulated every chalet should have a good fireplace. The cost may be
anywhere from $500 for a concrete block job in New England to $3,500 for a
handsome stone fireplace in Sun Valley. Still, there is nothing like lounging
about a real fireplace with a drink or two, a girl, etc. after a long day's
skiing. And the fireplace will save on the heating bill.
expenses the basic heating system (which should be either forced warm air or
electric, neither of which will freeze up) will range from $250 to $1,000. The
interior plumbing system will be about $800. Once these costs have been met,
there will not be too much money left for the construction of the house itself,
and anyone with a limited budget will have to economize somewhere. A good place
to do this is in the sleeping areas. Skiers don't seem to mind sleeping on
double- or triple-decker bunks, cots, benches or floors. One of the assets of
the A frame is its sleeping balcony rising above one end of the living room.
The balcony may be quite narrow, but as extra sleeping quarters to complement
the main bunk rooms inside the square, concrete base of the chalet, it can be a
lifesaver on crowded weekends.
chalet designers feel that the best way to economize is in the over-all shape
of the chalet. Dan Kiley, an architect who lives in Charlotte, Vermont, and
skis almost as well as do his wife and children, is convinced, despite the
popularity of the A frame, that the way to build a good ski chalet is to make
it about square in plan. This keeps the hard-to-heat exterior wall area to a
minimum and allows the hot air inside the house to travel upward through every
room, rather than collecting in the narrow, unusable space just under the apex
of a peaked roof. The Swiss and the Austrians, who have been living with snow
and ice for some considerable time, feel the same way about the design of a
cold-weather house; so did the builders of our own early Cape Cod houses. So,
for that matter, do I. If I were building a chalet of my own, I would make it
square, with the interior layout as shown on the preceding pages.
There are only two
further points to consider in building a chalet: maintenance and rentability.
If the chalet is going to be occupied all winter, there should be little
trouble with maintenance. Pipes are not likely to freeze so long as the heating
system does not go on the blink. But if the chalet is to be used primarily on
weekends, as most of them are, it is a good idea to find some reliable local
person to act as caretaker, or else take all kinds of elaborate and expensive
precautions—like installing a stand-by generator and wrapping water pipes in
Best of all, any
absentee owner should keep his place occupied by tenants. Depending upon how
many skiers a chalet will sleep, it may bring from $750 and up per season, $200
and up per month, or upwards of $60 per weekend. Few new owners will be as
lucky in their rental rates as those in Squaw Valley, some of whom got back as
much as 40% of their building costs by renting during the 1960 Winter Games.
The rental boom is still on in Squaw, where the principal realtor, Wayne
Poulsen, says he has had to turn down 80% of all requests for home rentals this
season and adds that he could have found tenants for every single house in the
valley if the owners had decided to sit this one out in the city.
Even without a
windfall like the Olympics, by giving up a month here and there, by renting
over the big weekends when the lifts are too crowded for decent skiing anyway
and perhaps by skipping one full season, the chalet owner can easily meet his
tax and maintenance costs. He may also be able to take a big bite out of his
mortgage, especially if he has been wise enough to build in an area which
doubles as a summer resort.
With these added
income possibilities, of course, many new owners will discover that they have
put up a house that is too profitable to live in themselves. They may then
carry the second-house syndrome one step further and decide to build two
chalets rather than one: the first to rent out, the other to live in.