There can’t have been too many people who, when Doug Barber set out to build his very own Swiss chalet in South Yorkshire, thought in their heart of hearts that it would turn out so impressive.
“I’d always enjoyed visiting Switzerland and spent time there most summers,” says Doug, a retired commercial surveyor. “I loved the idea of living in a traditional-style Swiss chalet and decided that it would be a dream worth pursuing.”
- Name: Doug Barber
- Build cost: £415,000 (£1,775/m²)
- Build time: 1 year 1 month
- Location: Yorkshire
The front elevation
Some years before, Doug had been looking to buy a new place when he came across a bungalow on a large 0.45-acre hillside site. “I used to cycle past it when I was younger,” recalls Doug, “and always thought what a fabulous place it would be to live in.”
The site is perched some 700ft up and enjoys panoramic views yet, thanks to its suburban, tree-heavy setting, is relatively private
Having spent a few years working out what to do with his view, the Swiss chalet concept came along and a rebuild became the only serious option. Whilst the first architect Doug approached offered little enthusiasm, the second, Roger Grounsell from Design Team Partnership, proved a lot more positive and encouraging, working closely with Doug, who furnished him with books on Swiss architectural design details, to make sure the chalet-style design was fully authentic.
As you might expect, the path through planning was not so much rocky as, well, alpine. “My view was that if the design is what I like, then provided it doesn’t affect anyone one adversely and looks good, I should be allowed to build the chosen design” Doug explains. “Temperatures were raised in the pre-planning committee meetings with the local planning officers, and I made it clear that I was willing to go to appeal if the application failed. I saw it through in the end.”
One battle won, another loomed. The 2008-9 recession meant that Doug felt it prudent to take a step back and reassess his costs. Doug worked closely with main contractors TH Michaels to minimise costs where possible without impacting on the quality of the overall look, and kept a close surveyor’s eye on proceedings to ensure they matched the fine design detail.
Large expanses of glass make the most of the stunning views while
the double-height spaces create an authentic Swiss chalet feel
The result is spectacular, with no less than five balconies meaning the outside really is an integral part of the overall scheme, and the materials selection – a mix of render, timber and stone finishes on the exterior and a pleasingly subtle display of pine cladding inside – creating a truly authentic feel.
Particular highlights include the 26ft-high entrance space, the first floor cosy living room based around a stove, and the huge first floor balcony which Doug admits to spending most of his waking hours on.
The 26ft-high entrance space
It really is a testament to one man’s vision and determination. Done badly it would have been disastrous — but Doug was willing to go the extra mile to make sure this hugely aspirational and, some would say, slightly bonkers project has aimed high and more than exceeded even his own expectations. “On the whole I had a narrow escape,” concludes Doug.
A broken plan layout keeps a sense of flow throughout the home, while still feeling cosy
The internal finishes and decor reflect the Swiss Chalet style Doug was inspired by