The A-frame cabin offers an escape from metropolitan living. The triangle-shaped homes were popular starting in the 50s and through the 70s. You may recall visiting your grandparent’s A-frame cabin when you were a child.
Today, A-frames are making a comeback and it seems this time they’re here to stay.
While some live in one full-time, many A-frames are built or remodeled for vacationing. What sounds better than spending a vacation in an A-frame cabin in the woods?
The modern design requires creativity for living both indoors and outdoors but with a little elbow grease. You can achieve a vacation getaway paradise without having to travel too far from where you live.
After WWII and during the 1950s, demand for A-Frame cabins skyrocketed. After American architect, John Campbell updated the design, dubbed the Leisure House, national interest spread.
A-Fame home is a place to retire, gather, and escape. The homes feature a triangular, custom fabricated truss system, a dormer window, and second-level living.
Parts Of An A-Frame House
- Foundation Footing
- Foundation Stem Wall
- Sill Plate
- Rim Board
- Stem Wall
- Floor Joist
- Girter Truss
- Lower Wall Brackets
- Attic Joist Bracket
- Peak Bracket
- Gable Wall
- Collar Tie
A-Frame House Kits
A-Frame house kits include architectural details like floor plans, elevation views, windows. and structural engineering regulations for your state.
The main feature of the kits is how they eliminate the need to hire an outside engineer or architect. And although assembly guides show order of operations and best practices, they are not a how-to manuals on building techniques.
Structural truss components are included. Each truss has three to nine parts based on the model and location of the floor plan’s truss. The members are cut to size on the correct angle and have predrilled holes.
Custom hardware is fabricated for each truss joint aligning with their holes. Bolts and washers are also included.
A-Frame House Plans
Frame house plans are simple and functional. Thanks to their self-supporting structure, A-frames are ideal for those who enjoy open space floor plans. The exteriors of an A-shaped frame are load-bearing. The house does not need an interior load-bearing wall.
Details not included in A-frame house plans:
- Plan sets DO NOT include plumbing details, insulation, res-check or energy, calculations, and site plans.
- Interior elevations like cabinet details and bathroom elevations are not included in basic plan sets.
A-frame House Interior
With A-frame interiors, they can be minimalist retro, modern farmhouse style, or rustic chic. Like everything else, the choice is yours.
What Is An A-frame Cabin?
As the name suggests, an A-frame cabin is a home that has steeply angled sides that begin at the foundation and are connected at the top, forming the letter “A.”
A-Frame Cabin Construction Cost Breakdown
The cost per foot of constructing an A-Frame cabin is around 20 to 30 percent higher than a typical eight or nine-foot ceiling with the roof falling on the top plate. There are other variables that affect pricing, but this ratio has proven to be accurate.
The costs depend location. Building permits, electricity, water, and sewage disposal remain the same regardless of the type of house. Even if you choose to live off-grid living, you will need a well and septic system.
Another factor is labor. You can devote yourself to the job and your abilities. If you have basic carpentry skills it would reduce expenses. Doors, windows and appliances can be bought second-hand. And materials that are no longer needed can be repurposed.
Clearance sales are a good supply source if you’re not worried about the aesthetics of tile and flooring. There are many ways to save money if you know how find the best offers. It will also help if you have a place where you can keep your belongings.
You can construct a cozy A-frame home, say 800 square feet including a loft, for about $60,000, excluding utilities, fees, and permits. The expenses vary according to location, making it impossible to calculate an overall average.
Are A-Frame Cabins Cheaper to Build?
Scalability is a feature of A-frame homes. Country Living Magazine featured a couple who designed a stunning 80-square-foot guest home for less than $700.
A-Frames have many levels, open floor plans, and cathedral-style windows. It’s simple to add a window wall to an A-Frame cabin. When angled to take advantage of the sun’s course, it can provide a bright, open place.
It’s also easy to get designs or a prefab kit, whether a tiny house or large, for a roomy vacation retreat.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a 1,000 Square Foot A-Frame Cabin?
The average cost of a new home in the US in 2021 was $287,466. The US Census Bureau estimates that the average price of a new home will be $390,500, whereas the National Association of Home Builders estimates that the average price of a new home would be $485,128. On average, 1,000-square-foot home will cost $187,000 to build.
A-Frame Cabin Insulation Ideas
One of the questions you need to ask yourself before building an A-frame cabin is how you’re going to insulate it. In regards to that, we have ideas that might help you out.
Eco-friendly might not be suited here.
There a those who have adopted an eco-friendly lifestyle and thus choose to utilize natural insulating materials (ranging from cellulose to animal wool).
Keep in mind that insulating properties are typically far lower than those of normal glass wool or rock wool. Additionally, their price is greater. Thus, you would spend more money to obtain less energy efficiency, but you would win in terms of eco-friendliness.
Heat Loss Is Your Main Target.
Whichever insulating solution you choose, it must prevent heat loss. Polyurethane is a more effective insulation. Polyurethane outperforms the best performing construction wools by roughly 30 percent. Other choices include EPS, rock wools, glass wools, and eco-friendly materials.
DIYers, Ease Of Installation Is Important.
This is one point that nearly everyone misses. This, of course, leads to people making certain mistakes. For instance, while EPS is the least expensive option, installing it requires spray foam, and a lot of it. Thus, employing EPS is not as inexpensive as it appears.
Eco-friendly wood-based products are harder to cut. It can result in massive installation costs in addition to the material’s already high price.
40 Tips For The Perfect A-Frame cabin That You’ll Want To Live In
A-Frame Cabin Exterior
When you have an existing A-Frame cabin to update, it can be hard to envision how it could look. If you stick with elements from the cabin’s surroundings, like wood, stone, greens and browns, you’ll have it spruced up in no time.
When you have a vacation home, there are things that you need to splurge on to be sure your place will last and even when you aren’t there. A tin roof, for example, would help it withstand the harsh weather elements. It would also save you money on roofing in the long run.
Do you need to construct a base for your brand new a-frame cabin? Don’t knock the idea of a wood support. If you’re a big do-it-yourself person, this option would be a simple and easy DIY project.
When you think cabin, you envision a building made of horizontal logs. When you’re going with an a-frame, you might as well think all the way outside the box and cover your cabin’s walls in wood slices instead of logs or slabs. Everyone will want a picture with your wood wall.
With all that wood on your cabin, you need some color to brighten things up. Consider painting your a-frame’s trim something that’s eye catching. Green is classic but you can choose anything.
Maybe you’re looking to create a modern retreat that fits your minimal lifestyle. In that case, just paint everything smokey black. It doesn’t get more modern than that and you’ll have an a-frame that will never go out of style.
Many A-frame houses have two straight walls with windows. Being one of the main ways to let the light in, why not install more windows to make a wall of glass? They can be frosted or beveled if you need the privacy.
If you spent your childhood summers in a cabin, the sound of a slamming screen door is nostalgic. Install a screen door so your kids can have the same loving family moments that you had when you were their age.
Personal touches can make your place feel more like home. Add some sweet cottage bits to the exterior to make your cabin feel like it’s out of a storybook.
Larger A-frames might give you the room for a real covered porch. While you might have to work with the ends to fit against the roof’s slant, you’ll enjoy the normal country looking front porch.
Is your cabin a large A-frame? Think about installing a second story balcony. It would make a nice sheltered spot to watch wildlife in the morning or listen to the rain while you read.
When you have entertaining space outside your cabin, you’ll want to make the lines between indoors and outdoors seem temporary. Install great big doors that you can open wide onto your patio or deck for the ultimate party space.
Maybe you’ve got the funds to cover a giant deck for all your outdoor entertaining needs. In that case, go for it and paint it the same color as your A-frame’s siding to help it blend into the lovely nature setting.
Lots of cabins are blessed with a stove or a fireplace but there is at least a fire pit for cozy nights. Use some porch space to store all the wood you need to make all those marshmallow toasting nights a possibility.
When your a-frame cabin is in a prime location, you have to think about how best to meld it into its surroundings. A lakeside cabin would benefit from a dock for fishing, boating and swimming.
No one can say no to an ocean front cabin. Install a boardwalk to the beach to make the ocean easily accessible for all family and friends. It’s helpful when you’re carrying all those beach amenities back after a long day on the sand.
As we mentioned above, really good cozy cabins supply a way to have a fire indoors so you can roast marshmallows any time of the day or night. Make sure you dedicate a corner of your a-frame to your stove or fireplace.
You may think that two straight walls provide the an opportunity for natural light. However, living in an A-Frame is the best time to use skylights. You won’t regret installing one or two for a little more sunshine.
Many people might think that getting rid of the wood paneling in an A-Frame is the best thing. While you consider it though, also think about how lovely an updated wood paneling would be for a warm and rustic living space.
So brown wood paneling isn’t for you and that’s okay. You can still whitewash all your walls and get that sweet country cabin look that’s a lot brighter. Perfect if you’re looking for a quick fix way to bring more light into your A-Frame.
Speaking of more light, don’t be afraid to have your A-Frame’s windows replaced with the biggest windows you can find. Those big glass panes will welcome more light into your home than you could ever do with white paint.
Do you want to know what one of the biggest types of windows are? Doors. Add some big glass doors to your living space to bring in more light and make entertaining easy.
When you’re remodeling your A-Frame cabin, you’ll want to put some thought into an open layout. With a smaller space to start with, everyone will benefit from the ability to hang out in one large space together.
Are you lucky enough to have an amazing view from your a-frame windows? Be sure you make your living room layout facing this view so all your relaxing can be done while you watch sunrises, sunsets, storms and any other weather.
If your A-Frame is on the smaller side, don’t be afraid to slim down on the interior. Make good choices with your furniture and opt for minimal decorating to make a small space seem bigger. You’ll want to be outside most of the time anyway.
Most A-Frames have a second story but how do you accommodate stairs? Spiral staircases are fun and definitely a good choice when you’re looking at a lack of floor space.
Does your two story A-Frame have a regular staircase? Use the space by installing shelving underneath. You’ll use up so much of your available area that you won’t mind the stairs being smack in the middle of your cabin.
Steps don’t have to be only for walking. Design yours in a way that creates a step and a shelf so you combine two purposes for one piece. Your A-Frame walking area will thank you.
You can imagine that the tippy top of an A-Frame doesn’t provide much space. The least you can do is paint it white so sleeping up there won’t feel quite so much like sleeping in a dingy attic.
Are there beams in your a-frame bedroom? Paint them black to make your space feel more modern. You probably already have all the rustic decor to keep the cabin feel so it could use a touch up.
When your A-Frame cabin is built on some property and you have the privacy of trees, you can think outside the box when it comes to the bathroom. Install your bathtub in front of a large window for maximum relaxation.
There is always that corner in an a-frame where the roof meets the floor. Instead of giving it up for wasted space, build yourself little cubbies so you can utilize every square inch in your cabin.
A serious A-Frame cabin goes into the tiny house category. If you A-Frame could practically roll on wheels, take an afternoon to see where screws and nails could help provide you with much needed storage.
The best way to visualize a design and to understand how some of the ideas mentioned above actually work is to put them into context. We can do that by looking at a few examples of A-frame cabins. This one was designed by studio everywhere. It’s called AYFRAYM and it’s a modern version of a classic A-Frame cabin, with a clean and simple design.
The design features an open social area on the ground floor and a loft area for the private spaces. There’s a big glazed facade and long windows along the slated roof which bring light into all the different sections.
Here’s a whole collection of A-Frame cabins in Huzhou, China. It’s a place where a group of families gathered and built matching houses, creating a lovely community around them. They’re small with big triangular roofs that point towards the center, with glazed facades on the other two sides. They’re also elevated which allows them to have minimal impact on the landscape. This was a project by architecture and design studio Wiki Tech.
This lovely little A-Frame cabin has a very welcoming interior. Although on the outside it’s dark and designed to blend in with the landscape, the interior is bright and airy.
There’s a nice gathering area with a living, dining and kitchen combined and two bedrooms and two bathrooms above that. The furniture and the decorations create a very cozy and inviting feel, especially the little fireplace in the corner of the living room and the chandelier hanging above the dining table.
Black seems to be a popular color for the exterior of A-frame cabins. It makes sense for a cabin surrounded by a forest because the dark exterior allows it to better blend in and to disappear into the surroundings. This one compensated for that on the inside with a color palette that includes light neutrals like white but also plenty of wood which creates a warm and inviting ambiance.
We love the dark contrast created by the white surfaces together with the dark-stained wood and the black accents.
This cabin in the woods of the Rocky Mountains introduces a rather exotic color into its design. The exterior is defined by a big A-frame roof which goes all the way to the ground and a facade that’s turquoise with white accents around the windows and doors.
This gives it a retro vibe but also suggests a vibrant design approach. The interior on the other hand is more toned down and white together with other soft neutrals help to make the small areas seem bigger and brighter.
Speaking of bold color choices, check out this cool A-frame cabin and its red facade. The roof is black which frames the red quite nicely and the frames around the windows are white for a clean and elegant twist.
The big wooden front door is off-center and welcomes the guests into a super cozy setting with all the walls and ceiling covered in wood.
A proximity to the ocean means a wonderful which needs to be emphasized and in the case of this mid-century A-frame cabin that was done by opening up the facade and a big glazed surface that one side and large windows on the other.
The combination of gray and light blue for the exterior of the cabin is in tone with the beautiful scenery and allows the structure to blend in and to look at home on this beautiful oceanside plot. The interior has a nice retro vibe to it, emphasized by the use of colors such as light green and turquoise as well as by an abundance of natural wood.
Where Can You Build An A-Frame House?
Municipalities will authorize the construction of a structure (small cabin, shed, porch, or gazebo) up to a specific size without demanding a building permit. On average, the maximum size is 100 square feet.
If your A-frame cabin is under 100 square feet, you don’t need a building permit.
Communities have laws governing construction built close to the water on waterfront properties. The laws will cover necessary minimum distance between your cabin and a “high water mark.” Other restrictions may apply if your location is environmentally sensitive.
Before building an A-frame house, you have to check with your local authorities to determine if a permit is needed. You’ll also want to learn about the paperwork your project requires.
Making a down payment on land is good financial sense. Within a few years, your investment may appreciate in a hot market as you enjoy the view based on your cabin’s location.
As the value of your land increases, new opportunities arise. Land value increases with time. Thus, as you pursue your desire to be with nature, you can position yourself to earn money. It’s a win-win situation.
A common question when buying land is if you’re certain you want to buy or rent it. When you rent property, you often do not have rights to construct on or convert it for long-term use.
Even if the person who rents the land to you appears to be receptive to this scenario, they may ask you to vacate after your renting term expires.
You don’t want to go through the construction process and then later have to vacate your home which would be a waste time and money.
Zoning and Deeds
Whether it’s legal for you to build an A-Frame cabin on your land is determined by local zoning laws. When building your house, connect it to a designated land parcel.
Deeds might your property. For instance, what if you wish to cluster cottages or other tiny houses around a larger house? You’ll need to determine the number of construction projects or principal residences allowed on your property.
Zoning rules regulate a variety of factors, including the number of animals that may be kept on the site, structures allowed to be constructed, farming requirements, and historical preservation.
Make sure you are aware of the restrictions imposed on your property to avoid surprises on your intended use of the land.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Can I Have Exposed Beams?
Yes, you can. With A-frame houses you will have a required top collar necessary for structure. When working with LVL material instead of construction lumber, the beam is wrapped in your chosen finish material. The roof side beams can also be finished and exposed, but isn’t recommended.
Is Strip-Footing Foundation A Good Idea For A-Frame Homes?
Strip-footing foundations are not a good idea. To begin with, most building departments to not allow open foundations. Also, have freeze and plumbing issues are more cost effective with a crawlspace. Vermin-related issues are eliminated with a crawl space, which also mitigates insulation requirements.
How Does The Permitting Process Work?
When planning your A-Frame, learn about local limitations for building shape, and permitting requirements. Most building departments have a checklist. After you start the drawing phase, you can apply for permitting.
What Are Some Common Concerns People Have With A-Frame Houses?
There are a few concerns with A-Frame houses. During the summers, the homes can get hot depending on the direction of the windows. Due to their shape, there isn’t much space for you to hang things. Also, their large windows make it easy for energy to escape the home.
What Is The Best Insulation For An A-Frame House?
One of the best things you can add to an A-Frame house is a cooling tower. When you combine dormers with a cooling tower, you can expel stack effect heat that builds up around ceiling. Also, remote controlled seasonal cooling towers with r-values are available.
What HVAC System Is Good For A-frame Homes?
One of the best HVAC systems you can get for an A-frame is a mini-split wall mounted system.
Perfect A-Frame Cabin Conclusion
The latest trend among homeowners is rural living, and A-frame cabins and homes make it possible. The homes are affordable and easy to build. If you like living a peaceful existence and away from the hustle and bustle of big city life, then an A-frame cabin might be the best investment you’ll ever make.
A-frames can adapt to any conditions. They allow their inhabitants to get closer to nature. As a home style, they’re easy and simple, unlike traditional homes.