Construction & Design / Earn More / Investment

Everything you need to know about renovating your chalet in the Alps

The appeal of a holiday rental property is not just its location at the foot of the slopes or an attractive price. To make your chalet even more attractive to renters, it is important to make it a pleasant, warm and well-maintained place to stay. This might mean renovating your chalet.

Michel Bibollet, the owner of Chalet Goville, embarked on a major transformation of his property some time ago. In this article, he gives his advice on how best to renovate your Alpine chalet.

Do you own a chalet or apartment in the mountains and, like Michel, have decided to start renting it out? Or do you simply want to add a modern touch to your property? Then read on…

1) What is the point of a renovation project? 

There are many advantages to renovating your rental property or turning a property into a holiday rental.

Obviously, one of the main benefits is financial. Michel explains that you have to “make the work profitable” in the first instance. Then you will see the financial return on your investment.

If you already have a rental property, the benefits of a renovation project include being able to attract more guests. You can do this by carrying out a few interior improvements to make the property more comfortable and modern.

Over time, you may be able to attract regular clients who will rent your property again and again. This is the case for Michel’s Chalet Goville, who is delighted to see the same clients year after year: “The clients come back and it’s really nice.”

Renovation work is also an opportunity to bring your property up to standard, should it need it.

For Michael, however, the project was first and foremost to do with the history of the property. Having acquired an old family farm dating from 1870, it was important to him to keep this heritage alive, particularly as, with an area of 450m², this old house had a lot of potential.

He explains: “I had a farm that belonged to my grandmother, where my mother grew up. And it’s a farm that I bought from my aunts about 15 years ago, so initially, my plan was to revive this family history. When my grandmother lived there, all the children from the school next door would come to the chalet to eat their lunch, so I said to myself, now it’s up to me to do something with it.”

2) Take your time over the renovation

Before beginning your renovation, it’s important to think the project through carefully. Put your ideas on paper, make a list of your aims, draw and redraw the plans of your building and think about the style you want to achieve. Take the time to go into your project in detail.

Time was key for Michel’s building project. It allowed him to rethink his scheme several times and gave his plans the chance to evolve: redesigning the interior and changing elements that he no longer wished to include. The four years of construction enabled him to refine and tweak his plans to obtain the perfect result.

Above all, taking his time to plan meant he minimised the risks of discovering problems during the construction phase. The renovation of Chalet Goville took four years – it may seem like a long time, but it meant Michel did not face any major unexpected problems.

He says: “You have to give it time because it gives you the opportunity to look ahead. I didn’t encounter any problems during the renovation. If we’d had to do it all in one or two years, I might have had problems with the deadlines, but we were able to anticipate the orders, so it went well.”

So don’t be afraid to take it slowly. “You have to know how to lose time to gain time,” says Michel. “It’s a great guarantee of success.”

Chalet Goville during renovation
Chalet Goville, in La Giettaz during renovation © Michel Bibollet

3) Renovating your chalet: plan ahead

When you think about starting to renovate or build an Alpine chalet, it’s important to plan ahead.

As you have seen, renovation is not something that can be done in a hurry. If you want to reduce any delays, you’ll need to anticipate any problems.

Start by finding your working partners in advance. As Michel says, local tradespeople often have busy diaries. “You practically have to book them a year in advance. You always have to plan ahead.”

You’ll also have to check the delivery time of the equipment you may need, do your paperwork in advance, draft your plans and draw up your wishlist before the project even starts. It’s not something we always think about, but in the long run, this detailed planning will save you time.

4) Don’t underestimate the extent and the cost of the work

If you want to embark on a project like this, you must be aware of how much work is involved and, above all, of its cost.

The budget for a chalet renovation is very substantial, and will vary according to the size of your chalet, the equipment you install and the service providers you employ. Don’t hesitate to contact experts for an idea of the cost of your project.

You can make some savings by doing some of the work yourself, as Michel found out. However, unless you are an expert in this field, it’s best not to try! It’s better to increase your budget and bring in professionals – this will avoid construction defects and will mean your property is less likely to deteriorate because of DIY work.

So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with experts who will use all their skills and experience to get your project done.

5) Renovating your chalet: surround yourself with experts

Although it’s expensive, we strongly recommend that you bring in qualified professionals to carry out the renovation or construction of your Alpine chalet.

This ensures that all the work is done properly and will stand the test of time.

Michel called upon various craftsmen who were qualified in the areas where he had the least knowledge: plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, and tiling. He also worked closely with an interior designer to manage the layout and the furnishing of the rooms. This allowed him to move the work forward, and he seems very happy with his decision.

He recalls: “After four years, just as work was coming to an end, I called in Caroline Mary, an interior designer who works with OVO Network. Again, it was a good idea to call her in, because when you are involved in the work, thinking about the little things like buying teaspoons, getting curtains made and buying the laundry is tedious. So it really helped me that she took care of everything. And it’s not a waste of money – it’s really useful to work with someone like this. It’s true that I was hesitant at the beginning, because it meant an extra cost, but if I had to do it all again, I would do it the same way.”

He was also accompanied throughout the work by Bruno Donzel, another member of the OVO Network team.

You know what you have to do!

6) Keep on top of maintenance at your property

Just because you have recently renovated your property, it doesn’t mean you can neglect the few annual repairs needed to keep it in the best condition.

Ensure walls, floors, ceilings, doors and windows are in good condition and that lights and electrical components are working and furniture is not broken. These may seem like small details to you, but they will make a difference to your guests.

“There again, you have to plan ahead,” says Michel. “A year ahead, block a week on your availability calendar when you can take care of this work.”

7) Finally, what do you need to remember?

Here are Michel’s top three tips for a successful project:

  • Bring in the professionals: architects, interior designers, tradesmen, etc
  • Don’t underestimate the size and cost of the work
  • Take your time!

You now know everything you need to know about renovating your Alpine chalet. Although it’s a job that requires a big investment, it is a project that, in the long term, should attract more holiday guests and increase your rental income.

Don’t hesitate to contact a member of the OVO Network team to discuss your plans.

Here are some more articles that might interest you. They will give you more ideas to make your rental property even more attractive. 

About Author

Hi, I'm Lindsay, and I work on the editorial side of the OVO Network team. I'm based in Kent, England and love this job as it combines my passions for words and travelling to beautiful places.