Renovating Chalet Chez Teddy - an introduction
When we first arrived at Chalet Chez Teddy, it was with the intention of staying only for a few months and maybe doing a little maintenance while we were here. The owner, who was living and working abroad, kindly flew in to Zurich to meet us, show us the chalet and stay for the first few days. He explained that the chalet was a treasured and precious holiday home for him and his children but that it was not often used. He had ideas about trying to rent out the downstairs apartment to a couple who would live here all the time and do turnovers of the upstairs, which he wanted to put on Airbnb. On the second day of being here, we suggested that we could be his downstairs people but that we would run the upstairs as a catered chalet. Over the next few months we agreed the structure of the business and pricing, applied for our residency and started thinking about what work needed to be done to make it suitable. To help with this, we invited friends and family to visit, so they could stay in the upstairs apartment and we could understand what worked well and what needed to be changed.
The Chalet was built in 1967, with two apartments, both separately accessed from outside. Upstairs was a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Originally, it had the front door at the back of the chalet, with a small entrance hall but the owner had moved the door slightly and removed the entrance hall to make a larger kitchen. The hot water, sink, oven and hob unit was still original though, being in a single unit. Other than that, not much had been changed. The bathroom was original and had the washing machine in it. The two smaller bedrooms were 'children's bedrooms' and therefore were very small. Originally they had had bunkbeds but the lower one had been removed and replaced with a double bed. This was slightly short, as the rooms were not big enough for a normal length bed and could only be accessed from one side, meaning that one person would have to climb over the other to get into bed.
After staying for a season, writing options and discussing with the owner, we agreed a plan. The first priority was safety and so Amanda, who was a qualified and registered electrician in the UK, upgraded the electrics, with help, guidance and oversight from ElectroSchneider, the town's family-run electrical company. We also asked a local company to replace part of the balcony, where the timbers had rotted and move the front door from its position at the back of the chalet (where access was difficult) to the front, into the smallest bedroom.
Inside this room, Richard built a separating wall to create an entrance hall and a second bathroom. Changing the sofa to a sofa bed meant that we could still accommodate six people and have a sofa that could seat more. The original bathroom was replaced and the washing machine moved to a laundry shed which Richard built at the back of the chalet. The other structural change we made was to move the wall between the other children's bedroom and the kitchen. With the front door gone, the kitchen was much bigger anyway and a shift of just 30 cm meant that we were able to fit a full size double bed with access from both one side and the end.
Amanda upgraded the electrics, adding lights, sockets and everything required for the new kitchen and hot water. She also installed extractor fans and heated towel rails in both the bathrooms. Richard plumbed in and fitted the new kitchen and the two
bathrooms. We were able to re-use the timber from the old wall between the bedroom and the kitchen to make a new balustrade at the front of the chalet, and we replaced and added to the balcony floor timbers and front. Richard also built fitted furniture for the small bedroom, the entrance hall and the living room. Finally, we replaced the flooring throughout and repainted the one painted wall.
We installed the electrical consumer unit and also did some work to the downstairs apartment in early summer before taking the opportunity of the eased coronavirus restrictions to return to the UK and see friends and family. While we were away, the front door was moved and the balcony structural timbers replaced. Then we did the rest of the work when we got back in September. Whilst some delays with deliveries pushed our timeline, we were completed by Christmas and ready for our first LiveLife Chalet guests in January.