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Old 18.05.2015, 09:06
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Chalet advice!

Hi,
We recently bought a wooden chalet (Berner Oberland style) from 1928. Its in relatively good state, but we'd love to speak to someone who's had experience with renovating this kind of property, in particular in terms of caring for the wood. Also, any recommendations to handymen would be much appreciated (in particular if they are not too far from Zürich / Männedorf!).
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Old 18.05.2015, 09:34
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Re: Chalet advice!



Some thing like this? They are like the Forth Bridge, you start painting at one end and by the time you are finished at the other end, you can start again.
The main thing is that the roof is solid, if not you will have a lot of problems.
Living in a chalet is special, you have totaly different sounds in the building. The creeking of the wood when it warmes up or cools down, is a little frightning at first. You must remember the wood is always on the move.
Best of luck with your new home.
Salut Zämma
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Old 18.05.2015, 09:39
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Re: Chalet advice!

Does it not depend on the wood used? If pine, then yes, maintenance is a constant issue. But are châlets made out of larch (love that word, always reminds me on Monthy Python ) - practically not maintenance free and rot proof almost forever- as in Val d'Hérens, etc.

So you first need to ascertain which wood your châlet is made off.
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Old 18.05.2015, 09:43
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Re: Chalet advice!

Larch wood accumulates assets. Aesthetics, durability but also famous for being the more static wood in Europe (highly resistant), it naturally repels insects (no needs for chemical products) and is rot-proof.
Larch wood is the most durable wood in Europe if not constantly in contact with humidity (floor) and even in contact with bad weather. The higher the altitude the longer larch buildings live. Larch wood is perfect for framework, horizontal or vertical cladding.


Pine (spruce, etc) on the other hand ...
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Old 18.05.2015, 09:52
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Re: Chalet advice!

Yes - it looks a bit like that!
The roof is solid, its been insulated on the bottom and on the attic floor, but not on the sides. We're wondering if this is needed.
The sides of the house are about 13 cm of wood, then a layer of paper (from 1928!!) and then wood panelling. We're wondering if its worth taking off the wood panelling and putting in more modern insulation material. Though we've heard paper is OK and the gas bills don't seem that high.
I think the kinds of craftsperson we need is a "Zimmerman" but I don't know where we can find someone good who is able to communicate in basic english. Very wary of messing with the wood but it does look a bit dehydrated (compared to neighbours chalets which where built around the same time).
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Old 18.05.2015, 13:19
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Re: Chalet advice!

Salut Odile. Our chalet is built with Larch wood.
Larch is a great wood for building, it is strong, weather proof to a degree and absorbes very little moisture.
On the outside walls of buildings, it very quickly becomes grey and black if not treated. I find that in villages like in the Val d'Hérens, where all of the houses are left natural, very nice. But I find a single chalet, standing in the green of the nature, looks much warmer in red-brown than in grey-black.
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Old 18.05.2015, 13:23
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Re: Chalet advice!

I'm not sure what type of wood ours is built with.
The outside has quite a dark brown / greyish tone.
Where did you get advice about wood treatment from?
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Old 18.05.2015, 13:33
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Re: Chalet advice!

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Yes - it looks a bit like that!
The roof is solid, its been insulated on the bottom and on the attic floor, but not on the sides. We're wondering if this is needed.
The sides of the house are about 13 cm of wood, then a layer of paper (from 1928!!) and then wood panelling. We're wondering if its worth taking off the wood panelling and putting in more modern insulation material. Though we've heard paper is OK and the gas bills don't seem that high.
I think the kinds of craftsperson we need is a "Zimmerman" but I don't know where we can find someone good who is able to communicate in basic english. Very wary of messing with the wood but it does look a bit dehydrated (compared to neighbours chalets which where built around the same time).
How about showing some photos of your chalet? It would be much more simple if we had something to look at.
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Old 18.05.2015, 13:45
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Re: Chalet advice!

here is a photo of the house!
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Old 18.05.2015, 14:16
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Re: Chalet advice!

Thanks for the photo. I would check with the old owners of the chalet, who was the painter that painted the outside. You must find out what the painter used, Oil, Immpregnation or a type of Varnish? This is not a naturel wood finish.
Are the Chalet walls out of 14cm wood or are they 20mm planks on a wooden frame? (do'nt be fooled by the endwood at the corner of the house)
Do you have any detailed photos?
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Old 18.05.2015, 14:19
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Re: Chalet advice!

Hi
Can you believe it - I don't think they ever treated the wood. I asked if we needed to oil / treat it and they said "we don't know" - I think they just painted the white bits (or maybe not). This is after living there for 26 years...
Good point about finding out the structure - we asked and all we were told was that it was 13 cm thick wood and then this paper insulation and then panels. Apparently they spend about CHF 200 per month on gas which I guess is not too bad.
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Old 18.05.2015, 14:23
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Re: Chalet advice!

I'm attaching two more photos just to give you an idea of the state of the wood from the outside and the inside panelling.
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chalet-advice-screen-shot-2015-05-18-14.21.39.jpg   chalet-advice-screen-shot-2015-05-18-14.20.44.jpg  
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Old 18.05.2015, 19:55
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Re: Chalet advice!

Take a look behind the shutters, there you should find the original wood treatment. The shutters are normally open the whole day, so the wood behind them never has contact with sun and rain. I think the wood is impregniert with a Tar like treatment, this would explain the length of time since the last treatment and also the good surface coloring.

On a chalet of this type you should take a good look at the floor and beams of the 2 balconys (in the internet I found a pic from the south side) If they have not been replaced in the last 85 years, it could be time?
From your photos the chalet seems to be in a very good condition inside and outside.
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