If you’re looking for a creative and unique way to build your next home, then you may want to consider an A-Frame house. An A-Frame house is a type of structure that has triangular walls and a pitched roof, which gives it a very distinct appearance. While they may look different than your traditional home, an A-Frame house can be just as comfortable and functional. In fact, many people believe that they are actually easier to build than a traditional home. If you’re interested in learning how to build an A-Frame cabin, then read on for some tips.
One of the great things about A-Frame cabins is that they are extremely versatile. You can use them as a primary residence, vacation home, or even a rental property. And, because of their unique house design, they can be built in a variety of different climates and locations. Whether you live in the mountains or by the beach, an A-Frame house can be a great option for you.
Another advantage of a tiny A-frame is that they are relatively easy to construct. If you have some basic carpentry skills, then you should be able to build one on your own. However, if you’re not sure about your abilities, then it’s always a good idea to hire a professional contractor to help you out. Either way, building an tiny house is a fun and rewarding project that anyone can enjoy.
Are A-Frame Houses Cheaper to Build?
A-Frame houses are quite inexpensive to construct if you use simple materials and construction methods. The main cost associated with building an A-Frame house is the cost of the land. If you have a large piece of land that you can build on, then the overall cost of the project will be lower. Additionally, if you live in an area with a moderate climate, then the costs of heating and cooling an A-Frame house will be lower than a traditional home.
Because of A-Frame houses’ triangular shape, they use less lumber overall. These houses can be built using prefabricated lumber, which is cheaper than traditional lumber. The construction of an A-frame house is relatively simple and does not require as much skilled labor as a traditional house. Finally, these houses generally have a small footprint, which means they require less land to build on. All of these factors combined make A-frame houses an excellent choice for those looking to build a new home on a budget.
What is an A-Frame House?
An A-frame house is a type of house that has a triangular shape. The name comes from the fact that the roof looks like the letter A. These houses are usually made out of wood and often have large windows to let in natural light. A-frame houses can be found in many different parts of the world, but they are especially popular in mountain regions.
The main advantages of owning a tiny house are that they are very sturdy and can withstand strong winds, they are also very easy to build, and are relatively inexpensive. Another advantage is that they are very energy efficient due to their triangular shape, which allows them to hold in heat during the winter and stay cool during the summer. Lastly, A-frame houses have a very unique and stylish look which can make them stand out from other types of homes.
What are the requirements to build an A-Frame house?
There are a few key requirements that must be met before construction on an A-Frame house can begin. First, the property must have enough space to accommodate the size of the house. The property also needs to have appropriate zoning for this type of construction. Finally, the owner must obtain the necessary building permits from their local government. Without these key items in place, it would be impossible to start building an A-Frame house.
When designing the house, see the International Residential Code for wood floor framing that shows the joist and beam spacing requirement. This chart shows the maximum floor joist spans allowed for different lumber sizes and types of wood.
You also might be interested in DIY 10×12 Barn Style Shed with a Loft.
Time to Complete
Download Printable Plans in PDF
Tools for this project
- Tape Measure
- Miter Saw
- Table Saw
- Nail Gun
- Skill Saw
- Is available with the purchase of the plans
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Level the Ground and Mark the Pier Locations
First, clear out the area of bushes and any vegetation. Then level the ground to eliminate any low or high spots.
Using provided dimensions in the picture, roughly mark the centers of piers locations. Choose one corner as the home base and then pull all dimensions from that one location. Otherwise, your measurement will contain errors.
Next, build the batter boards for the string lines to establish a more accurate foundation layout. Then pull and adjust the strings to the exact dimensions following the cabin plans.
Using the string lines, you will be able to set a perfect outline of the foundation. String lines will ensure the foundation is squared and leveled. For more information about how to use string lines correctly, you can find it here.
Step 2 – Dig Holes for the Piers
Now dig out 14″ round and 24″ deep holes for the piers (assuming your ground is flat and leveled). Then take 12″ round concrete form tubes and cut 12 pieces to 24″ in length. If your ground is sloped, you might need to dig deeper holes, and some concrete tubes might be taller than others. As long as the top of the forms have the same elevation.
Next, fill the bottom 6″ of the holes with small rocks (rock size 1″-2″). Then place the concrete form tube into the hole. The top of the tube should be about 6″ above aground. It’s important to have a wood foundation at least 6″ above ground for ventilation to prevent wood rot.
Make sure that all concrete tubes are leveled. Also, the top of all concrete tubes should have the same top elevation.
Step 3 – Pour Concrete Into the Form Tubes
When working with concrete, you have a limited amount of time before it becomes hard. After concrete becomes harder, it’s very difficult to adjust or change its shape. So you will need to have your materials ready before mixing the concrete.
For this step, you will need 12 Simpson Strong-Ties (PB ZMAX post base for 4×4 nominal lumber) that will need to be inserted into the concrete. You will also need three 4×6 boards that are 16 feet in length.
Unless you have a big crew to mix and pour the concrete, the best way to ensure everything will be straight and level is to do concrete pouring in two rounds. In your first round, fill the concrete tubes halfway. At the same time, check to make sure the tubes are at the same elevation as the rest of the tubes. Before the concrete cures, you could easily adjust the tubes from side to side or up and down.
Once the concrete cures, you don’t have to worry about adjusting the tubes on your second round since they will be firm. Now fill the tubes all the way to the top with concrete. Then insert the metal post base in the center into the piers while the concrete is still wet. Before the concrete hardens, place the 4×6 beam into the metal post base spanning the piers. This will allow you to make any final adjustments to the metal base to line up with the 4×6 beam.
Repeat the process to finish pouring concrete for the rest of the piers.
Once the concrete completely cures, use wood screws with washers to secure the metal post base to the 4×6 beams. Then fill the gaps around the piers with dirt.
Step 4 – Build the Frame for the Cabin
Since this A-frame house looks like a triangle, you just need to build a bunch of large triangles that are connected together. The bottom of the triangle is the floor, and the other two sides are the roof. The total square footage of this house (including the loft) is about 250 square feet.
Start with building the first triangle. Take one 16 feet long 2×6 board and cut a 60-degree miter cut on both ends of the board. This board will be used for the floor joist. Now for the roof boards, take another two 16 feet long 2×6 boards. Make a 60-degree miter cut on one end and a 30-degree miter cut on the other end. The 60-degree miter cuts will be connected to the floor joist, and the 30-degree will be joined at the roof ridge.
To connect the 30-degree roof ridge, use a 4×8 pronged truss plate on both sides of the boards. Then place the floor joist over the roof boards and attach it with 2 1/2 wood screws or nails. See the picture in the A-frame house plans.
Repeat the process to build a total of 8 identical triangular trusses.
Step 5 – Build a Truss for the Dormer Windows
This A-frame house plan has two dormer windows on both sides of the loft. So to build a loft with dormers, you need to make one of the trusses a trapezoid shape instead of triangular. If you choose not to build the dormers, then instead of a trapezoid shape truss, you’ll just need to build a regular triangular-shaped truss.
If you’re building the dormers, than take 2×6 lumber and cut two roof boards to 112 7/8″ with 60-degree miter cuts on both ends. See picture.
Then take 2×6 lumber and cut two loft boards to 88 5/8″ in length. And finally, cut one floor board, similar to step 4, that is 16 feet long with a 60-degree miter on both ends.
Now connect these boards together as shown in the picture.
Step 6 – Erect the Framing for the A-Frame House
Now that you have the cabin framing made, it’s time to raise up the trusses and install them on the foundation. But before raising the trusses, you’ll need to add bridging blocks that connect the trusses to each other. You could potentially add these blocks later when you raise the trusses, but I think it’s easier to do that before.
Take 2×4 lumber and cut three pieces to 22 1/2″ in length. Then attach one board to the top ridge of the roof truss. And the other two blocks in the middle of the roof truss (that’s 96″ from the bottom of the roof). These middle bridging blocks will be used for plywood attachment and to prevent the plywood from sagging.
Now raise the first truss and attach it to floor beams at the very front of the foundation. Make sure the truss is flush with the front of the 4×6 beams. You will need to attach diagonal boards temporarily to hold the truss in place.
Next, take 2×6 lumber and cut one piece 179 1/4″ with a 60-degree miter cut on both ends (just like the other floor joist but shorter). Then slide this board in between the roof boards to have a double floor joist, and attach it with nails or screws. See picture. The first and the last truss will have a double floor joist.
Step 7 – Attach Remaining Trusses to the Foundation
Continue installing the remaining triangular trusses, 24″ on center, in a similar way as the first truss until you get to truss six. Since the sixth and seventh trusses do not connect at the ridge, skip the roof bridging block for now. It will be installed later. But do install the middle plywood bridging blocks.
Next, install the seventh trapezoid truss that you’ve built in step 5 for the loft/dormer window, then install the 8th truss. The last truss will need to be rotated and installed facing the front. Also, the distance between the last two trusses will be shorter, so the bridging blocks will be shorter. Then cut and install the double floor joist just like the first truss.
Step 8 – Install Rigid Foam Insulation Between the Floor Joists
If you’re planning to heat or cool the interior of the house, then installing floor and roof insulation is a must. But depending on the weather conditions where you’re building this house, you may or may not install the floor insulation.
Before inserting the insulation, cut and install the bridging blocks between the floor joists. Bridging blocks in the floor are used to prevent floor joists from swaying and are used for attaching the plywood. The edges of the plywood on the floor need to end up either on the floor joist or the bridging blocks.
To install the bridging blocks, you will need to measure and mark where the plywood ends. You could also install additional bridging blocks throughout the floor to prevent plywood sagging.
Then take rigid foam insulation boards and cut them to 22 1/2″ in width. Then install the insulation between the floor joist and the bridging blocks.
Step 9 – Attach Floor Plywood to the Floor Joist
Take a full sheet of 3/4″ plywood and place it over the floor joist. Align it so the edge of the plywood spans from the middle of one floor joist to the middle of the other floor joist. This will allow you to nail the plywood to the joist.
Also, ensure the plywood lands in the middle of the bridging blocks. The plywood edges must land on the floor joist or the bridging. Otherwise, the plywood would sag.
Step 10 – Build the Sleeping Loft
Now that the floor is built, you could put a ladder to reach the loft and the rest of the framing.
Take 2×6 lumber and cut two loft bed boards to 88 5/8″ in length. Then cut two more pieces to the same length, with a 60-degree miter cut on both ends.
Install the two loft bed boards with a 60-degree miter on truss five and truss 9. Make sure these boards are installed at the same elevation as the top of the trapezoid truss.
Now take the other boards with a 90-degree miter cut and install them on trusses 6 and 8. Again make sure they are at the same elevation.
Step 11 – Finish Installing Plywood on the Loft
Using the same method as you installed the plywood on the floor, first install the bridging blocks, and then install the plywood. See the picture for loft plywood dimensions. Again make sure that the edges of plywood land on either the trusses or the bridging blocks.
Step 12 – Install Ridge Boards for the Dormers
Take 2×10 lumber and cut three bridging blocks to 46 1/2″ in length for the dormers. Then attach one of the bridging blocks at the top of the roof ridge between trusses 6 and 8.
Next, measure 12″ from the top of the roof. Then install the 2×10 bridging block between trusses 6 and 8, following the same angle as the truss. And finally, install the third board on the opposite side of the roof.
Step 13 – Build the Dormer Walls
Moving on to building the dormers. The dormer consists of three walls and a roof. First, start by building the front wall.
Using 2×4 lumber, make a 44″ high by 53 1/2″ wide front wall. See the picture for the framing configuration.
If you have a different window size for a dormer, you will need to add additional framing to frame around the window.
Next, build the two side walls. Again, see the picture for dimensions and angles. You will need to build two identical side walls for each dormer.
Now, install the front wall on the 2×6 loft joist boards and then the two side walls. The side walls should be flush with the inside roof trusses.
Repeat the process to build the second dormer on the opposite side of the roof.
Step 14 – Install the Dormer Roof
To build the roof, take 2×4 lumber and cut seven roof boards to 44 3/8″ in length. Have one end of each roof board cut to a 45-degree miter cut.
Then, five roof boards will need a notch for the front wall top track. See picture for dimensions. The other two roof boards on the sides will not have a notch.
Next, take a 2×6 lumber and cut one piece to 56 1/2″ in length. Then, using a table saw, rip one edge of the board to 45 degrees so that the total width of the board is 5″.
Now take the 56 1/2″ board and attach it to the roof trusses above the side walls of the dormer. Make sure the board is centered between the trusses.
Then take the dormer roof boards and install them spanning from the front wall to the back 56 1/2″ board. The two outer roof boards will not have a notch.
Repeat the process to build the roof for the second dormer.
Step 15 – Build the Back Wall of the A-Frame House
Using 2×4 lumber, build a back wall following the dimensions provided in the picture. If you’re working with specific window size, you might need to add additional framing for that window. Make sure the back of the wall is flush with the back of the A-frame house.
Step 16 – Install the Front Wall of the Cabin
The front wall is also built using 2×4 lumber. First, build a triangle frame that will slide in between the roof trusses. Then you need to decide on the door size. You could install a single door or a door with side window panels. For this house, we’re using a door with side panels. The door should come with installations instruction and provide you with a framing opening. Once you frame around the door and the triangle window, then fill in the rest of the wall with studs.
The front wall could be either installed flush with the front of the house or moved back further inside (at the second truss). There are pros and cons to each situation. If you have the wall installed at the front of the house, you’ll have more room inside the house. But if you install the wall further inside, you’ll have a roof covering in front of the house to protect it from rain or snow.
For this tutorial, the wall is placed 24″ back from the front of the house.
Step 17 – Cover Roof with Plywood
Before you start covering the roof with plywood, check to see if you need any additional backing or bridging blocks to hold the plywood. You don’t want any plywood sections to be loose or not secured to the frame. Just like the plywood on the floor, all plywood edges should land on the boards.
After you’ve added the blocking, take 3/4″ plywood and attach it to the roof trusses starting from the bottom of the roof. The plywood would need to overlap the roof truss 3/4 of an inch. So the front bottom plywood sheet would be shifted back 3/4″ from the front of the house. Then the rest of the plywood pieces would follow the same pattern.
Step 18 – Install the Front Door and Windows
Now install the front door. For this tutorial, the door frame is 64″ wide for a single door with side window panels. As mentioned before, you could change this to be just a single door without the panels.
Next, install the front and back windows, as well as the dormer windows. Follow the window installation instruction to prevent any water leaks.
Step 19 – Cover the Roof with Paper and Install Metal Flashing
For this step, cover the roof with roofing paper. Make sure to start installing the paper from the bottom, working your way up the roof. The roofing paper needs to overlap for the water to drain down and not get inside the house.
Once the roof paper is installed, take sheet metal flashing and install it around the dormers. The metal will protect the corners from water leakage. The flashing also should be installed from the bottom, working your way up.
Step 20 – Install the Exterior Siding and Trim
If you’re building this house in harsh cold weather conditions, you might need to install plywood on the walls before installing siding. If the weather is not too cold, you could just attach the paper to the exterior of the walls and then install the siding over it.
Before attaching siding, ensure all the z-metal flashings are installed above the door and windows. Also, install metal flashing at the bottom of the siding so that water does not get inside the house. Once the house is wrapped with paper and metal is installed, then install the siding on the front and back of the house. Also, install siding around the dormers.
Next, install the trim boards under the roof covering in front of the house. Then install the fascia boards in the front and back. And any other trim around the house, such as trim at corners of dormers and lower trim to cover the floor beams and joists.
Step 21 – Install the Roof Shingles
Once all the trim is installed, it’s time to cover the roof with shingles. If you have any roof penetrations, such as fireplace pipe, that would be the time to cut those out. Once you cut the roof penetrations and install the metal roof caps, then cover up the roof with shingles.
Shingles are not the only option for the roof. You could instead install a sheet metal roof or other roof types that are available out there.
Step 22 – Finish Installing Interior Insulation and Drywall
Before installing insulation and drywall, think about the interior living space and how it would look. If you plan to install cabinets on the wall, you will need to add additional backing blocks or frames to support them. Or, if you want to hang a large TV or any other heavy object, you will need framing supports.
Also, think about electricity. You might need to run some wires and electrical plugs and switches. Finalize your interior design and furniture layout before installing drywall to prevent cutting out drywall.
Once the electrical and backing are installed, fill in the roof trusses with the insulation, including the walls of the dormers. Then install drywall on the walls.
Finally, finish installing hardwood flooring, baseboards, a ladder to the loft, light switches, and any other fixtures and trim.
You are done with a DIY A-frame house.
5 thoughts on “How to Build an A-Frame House (Tiny House, Cabin)”
I wish so many other diy instructors could write such simple, yet thorough, instructions. I am a big “Why” person so I love your explanations and illustrations. And I will subscribe to you.
Thank you so much!
Ms. Terry Brandenburg
Thank you Terry!!
Thanks so much Viktor for such a simplified work. It is very helpful.
Thank you so much
Kolbe M. Bare
Great job made simple. Thanks a million