The A-Frame ends the search for a getaway cabin that perfectly suits a design-minded outdoor lifestyle. Iconic, functional, and incredibly versatile, there are so many ways to make this triangular-shaped structure your own.
So, when you actually want to make it yours, investing in A-Frame house plans is the perfect way to gain building experience without starting from scratch, but still offers more customization than a prefab A-Frame house kit. To help you get started, here’s a crash course on A-Frame house plans, how to choose, why to buy, and the most important things you need to know to score the A-Frame cabin of your dreams.
(Of course, you could always just rent an A-Frame for the weekend, too.)
What is an A-Frame House?
The A-Frame is an enduring piece of architecture that is characterized by its triangular shape and famously functional design. It’s built out of a series of rafters and roof trusses that join at the peak to form a gable roof and descend outward to the ground with no other intervening vertical walls. It’s features include a steep roof pitch, large windows, vaulted ceiling, an open concept floor plan on the main level, and a second floor loft space that is most commonly used as a sleeping loft or storage space.
Great for vacation homes or full time dwellings, the architectural style of an A-Frame house makes it as versatile and timeless as a rustic timber frame or classic log cabin, but thanks to its design, it creates a secure structure with the least amount of materials. This makes it a more affordable home with a design that is universally appealing (and has been for years) and is at home in remote or rugged environments.
Here are key features and benefits of an A-Frame home at a glance:
- Timeless architectural style
- Simple, minimalist design
- Secure and strong structure
- Requires fewer materials
- Adaptable and versatile
- Good insulation
- Works well in cold and warm climates
- Scalable build
- More affordable than a classic four wall home
One challenge with the A-Frame is that the modest floor plan often results in limited living area, as well as interior wall and storage space. There isn’t much flexibility when it comes to window placement (ends are best), but their large windows allow plenty of natural light to flood in through the front and floor to a ceiling glass wall can make the indoors feel less claustrophobic and make the outdoors feel like an extension of the living space. Despite these spacial pitfalls, an A-Frame home inspires many creative solutions (i.e. dormers, lofts, etc) so any homeowner can create a home design that suits them best.
How to Build an A-Frame House
Once you’ve decided to own your dream A-Frame cabin, there are two ways to go about building it: build it from the ground up or buy your own A-Frame house plans. Both options have pros and cons that mainly depend on your time, budget, and skillset. While some might value customization and aspire to become an A-Frame DIY builder extraordinaire, others will appreciate the clear directions and meticulously designed A-Frame house plans that can be purchased from a number of qualified companies.
Are A-Frames Easy to Build?
While the triangular structure is easier to build than most traditional cottage, cabin, and house designs, it's not by much. Going the route of buying house plans may eliminate the need for significant building experience or hiring an architect, be warned that this does not mean there won’t be a lot of physical work, heavy lifting, and machinery involved. You’ll also still need to hire builders, spend time reviewing the plans, and making sure everything is in compliance with local codes. What you do get are ready-made building plans and assembly instructions from professionals, which really doesn’t sound too bad now does it?
How to Decide What A-Frame is Right for You
DEN is a New York-based design studio that offers affordable modern A-Frame house plans for purchase (and micro cabin kits that ship flat-packed) to starry-eyed homeowners. As experts on the topic, they recommend asking yourself these questions to help you decide what kind of A-Frame home is the best fit.
- How do you plan to use the space? Is it a smaller vacation home?
- How many rooms do you need and what are their uses? Do you want more than one bedroom and bathroom? Do you prefer a great room or will a smaller living area suffice?
- What is your budget and how much square footage can you afford?
- Does this size accommodate any future plans you have for the space? Is a family home plan important? Are you adding on?
- Am I being as respectful as possible to the land on which I plan to build?
- Does this size conform to what's permitted to be built in accordance with local zoning requirements?
- Does the neighborhood, property and additional costs like well, septic, and driveway support the size house you're choosing, from an investment perspective?
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, keep in mind that these house plans may streamline the building process, but there’s a lot that goes into building. To start, you’ll need to level the ground and pour a concrete foundation for the house—or use ground screws, pylons, or another similar type of substructure. Make sure you obtain required permits from your local govenrment, which will depend on the size, location, codes and regulations of each jurisdiction. Hire a local builder or contractor and talk with the manufacturer well ahead of time to get a clear idea of what you need for delivery day, including forklifts, heavy machinery, building tools, and more. Remember, buying plans is a far cry from buying a full-on prefab.
The Different Types of A-Frame House Plans
Good A-Frame house plans should have a thoroughly detailed design so you don’t have to imagine what it would look like or stare at pictures on a screen to understand what you’re about to buy. Though the triangle structure may feel limiting, dozens (if not more) plans exist from different companies, offering many designs from 10' x 10' micro A-Frames on up to 3-bedroom houses.
Ayfraym offers a handful of designs available for purchase as plans for under $7,000, or as established kits ready for building around $179,000.
At DEN, buyers have similar freedom to choose from an super basic ‘starter package’ or opt for a more in-depth A-Frame that comes with all the materials, plus, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. These comprehensive plans should have every detail down to the square foot for what you need to feel ready, excited, and prepared to get started.
Avrame is another popular kit manufactuerer, that may sell plans too—it's always worth reaching out and asking if interested.
When it comes to decide, it helps to know what types of A-Frame home plans are out there, and a little soul searching won’t hurt either. Here are some of the most popular types of A-Frame homes on the market today.
A-Frame House With a Loft
Many, if not most, A-Frames have room for a loft space due to their shape and construction. Luckily, if it’s tall enough for a loft area, it will also have a spacious great room on the main floor, which makes it perfect for a larger number of guests or family home plans. Check out DEN’s A-Frame Bunk Plus cabin plans for inspiration.
A-Frame With a Wraparound Deck
The quintessential A-Frame has a large wraparound deck or sprawling porch that’s perfect for outdoor gatherings and soaking up your natural surroundings. If the plans don’t include a deck, it’s easy enough to add-on, or you can always book a few nights at one you’ve been eyeing up on AirBnB first.
Tiny Home A-Frame Plans
If you’re keen on downsizing, go tiny and get your hands dirty building a tiny A-Frame home with plans like our favorite by Deek’s Relax Shack very own tiny house. Simple, straightforward, and perfect for beginners who don’t want a lot of square footage. You've likely seen this one on your Instagram Explore Page.
A-Frame With a Walkout Garage
Get a classic A-Frame design with a built-in garage for the ultimate in function and livability. Adding a walkout garage provides a bigger living area and more interior space. Scope out Ayfraym’s Plus Plans for an idea of what this could look like.
Looking for more A-Frame, prefab cabin kits, and cabin content to inspire your next escapist day dream? Check out this definitive guide that covers everything you need to know about buying a Prefab A-Frame House Kit. Or take a deep dive into the Field Mag cabin archives: