A Guide to Building a Ski-In Home
Are you an avid skier, who wants to live in a house where you can simply step out your front door (or more likely, your luxury garage or custom mud-room), and hit the slopes? Do you want to custom-design and build your own winter wonderland haven, so that everything about it perfectly suits your family’s needs?
First off, you need a lot.
True ski-in/ski-out homes are usually located halfway up a mountain or at the base of a mountain, in a ski village. But you may also end up with a ski-in home—a spot that’s a short walk from a chairlift to the slopes. Then, from the top of the mountain, there are ski trails that essentially land you right at your doorstep.
These ski-in lots are amazing—and sometimes, hard to find. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect landing spot for your dream home, maybe broaden your search? The next best thing to a ski-in lot is a lot located on or very near the local resorts’ shuttle lines. Either way, we work with the best real estate agents in Park City, having a builder in your process even from lot selection gives you insight into things you may not have thought about like, snow removal, snow storage or grading on steep slopes.
If your home is easily accessible to the slopes—just a quick glide, walk, or free shuttle away—you’ll have a real estate goldmine. If you’re only planning to live there part time, and you want rent it the rest of the time, you’ll have no problem keeping it occupied. You can charge more than a home that requires a vehicle to transport you to hill.
A home on the slopes is highly desirable in the real estate market, which means your home should hold or increase in value.
During the design phase of your ski home, what should you consider?
First off, you’ll want to think about house placement. Learn about your property. Where do major snow-melt puddles collect in the spring? Where does the lot get the best light, and when? You’ll want to build someplace bright and dry, with the most inspiring view your lot offers.
You’re drawn to the area for the skiing, yes, but also, for the beautiful landscape. When designing your new home, your architect will maximize the gorgeous views—both with windows, decks, and other indoor-outdoor living spaces. Good design complements the landscape—works with the slope or nestles into the valley. You want the design to follow the natural lines of the landscape, rather than imposing on the land.
Be cognizant of building too close to the property line. This way, even if your neighbors built a new guest cottage or a detached garage in the future, your home won’t feel claustrophobic.
When planning the driveway, your designers will keep in mind the tremendous snow load you’ll see each winter, and design in a way that makes getting in and out of your drive as safe and easy as possible. You will want enough empty space along the sides of the driveway for the banks that will pile up as your driveway is repeatedly plowed.
Think about what kind of architecture you love and what might work for your space. Do you love mid-century A-frames or European chalets? Are you into rustic stone and log cabins? Do the clean lines of a contemporary mountain home make you smile? We work with the best architects in Park City and can introduce you to the designers who best suit your personal style.
Your roof will have to bear heavy snow. If you choose something deeply sloped, the snow will slide off more easily, and you’ll have to shovel (or hire someone to shovel) the roof less. A sloped steel roof is probably the most efficient, when it comes to self-shedding snow loads. This might be a particular consideration if you’re not going to be at the house all the time, since keeping up with the weather and managing maintenance from afar may be more difficult. (Steel roofs are also durable. They’ll likely last the life of the house.)
It’s better to build high on the foundation, to keep the snow off of wood siding. Anything that’s wooden and constantly exposed to piled snow will age and show damage more quickly.
Heating a big house can get expensive, so you’ll need to think about the most efficient options. Seek expert advice and be realistic about your lifestyle. Radiant heat checks all of the right boxes, but if you don’t want the hassle of dealing with a propane tank, it may not be the way to go.
What are some features you’ll probably want in your ski-in mountain home?
A large mud-room or customized garage is a must. Your mudroom should have cabinets and other built-ins to store skis, poles, and boots. It should also be big enough for several people to gear up in, simultaneously.
If you have a lot of gear and equipment, such as snowmobiles, bikes, boats, etc., you’ll probably want a customized garage. This way you can store all of your gear in a safe, temperature-controlled easily-accessible environment.
You’ll also want a fireplace—or maybe, several fireplaces. The “great room” is a signature of the updated chalet. This is a room with a high ceiling and, as a centerpiece, a huge fireplace—preferably with a large hearth for extra-toasty seating. This is where you’ll sip hot chocolate and chat with friends after a long day on the slopes. Often, it’s the most lively room of the home.
You may also want to consider a few smaller fireplaces in the TV room or the bedrooms, to amp up the hygge factor (a Danish word defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being). An outdoor fireplace (in an outdoor living room setting) is perfect for cool spring and summer nights.
You’ll definitely want a hot tub and a sauna to soak your muscles after a full day on the slopes. You will want the hot tub close enough to the house that you only have to take a few steps to reach it in a bathing suit and slippers. The sauna (we recommend cedar!) can be indoors or outdoors. Some people prefer a sauna that’s set a short walk from the main house, in order to have the contrast of hot and cold, on the way to and from.
Everyone will want to come visit your comfy, lovely ski home, so guest sleeping quarters are likely on the list. You can go traditional, with a few traditional guest rooms and private baths, or you can opt for something more communal, such as a room with multiple beds (or bunks for the kiddos). Or mix it up—go for a combination of traditional and communal guest spaces.
If you’re skiing daily, you’re going to have lots of laundry. You’ll probably want an extra large laundry room, perhaps even with double-loading appliances.
Have more questions? Talk to us.
At Ledyard, we know ski homes, and we know what materials hold up on the Utah slopes. We’ve built multiple ski-in/ski-out homes for highly satisfied clients, and we’d love to answer any questions you might have or even help you find the perfect architect. Just get in touch and let us know how we can help you.