An A-frame home is built with a triangular and tall roof resembling the capital letter “A”. Typically, an A-frame is either a two-story or three-story home with open living space on the first floor, a smaller second story with bedrooms, and a small top floor that resembles an attic space and is often used for additional sleeping space or storage.
A-frame homes can be found throughout the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, and around the globe. They have an iconic style that is synonymous with leisure and are often used for vacation homes.
Benefits of an A-frame House
A-frames are not only stylish and hip these days, but they also come with a range of benefits that add to their popularity. Read our full list of pros and cons for more information.
- Good for Snowy Climes – Since they feature a heavily sloped roof, snow slides off the side of the house rather than builds up on the roof so you avoid expensive snow removal and roof repairs. That’s one key reason why A-frames are so popular for ski chalets.
- Natural light. The windows do the talking in an A-frame home and are a key feature along with the sloped roof. The windows provide plenty of natural light but you can add even more light with skylights or solar tubes.
- Affordability. With the simple design and the availability of pre-fab kits, an A-frame home can be budget-friendly.
- Energy Efficient – A-frames are generally more energy-efficient due to their design, making them popular in cold weather climates.
- Solid Structure – The A-frame provides a sturdy and solid structure due to the triangle shape creating a durable home.
- Timeless Style – With its sloped walls and open floor plan, it creates a modern style that is iconic and has been in style for decades.
- Affordable Build – You can look at using a pre-fabricated kit for your A-frame or building your own but this simple design generally uses few materials making it a budget-friendly option.
How Much Does It Cost To Build An A-frame Home?
While building costs vary greatly depending on location, budget, materials, and finishes, the A-Frame is a fairly simple design. They can be scaled larger or smaller depending on your family’s needs and budget.
Building costs per square foot generally range from $100-$200 per square foot for labor and materials. Your building costs could, of course, go higher depending on what you are planning and can be upwards of $300 a square foot or higher. You can estimate that on construction costs of a new home, approximately 40% of your total cost goes towards labor alone. So unless you are planning to build it yourself, you can factor that on top of your materials.
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A-Frame Prefab Kits vs Custom Build
There are two great options for building your A-frame cabin. A number of companies produce great designs for A-frames that come in pre-fabricated kits. Check out Backcountry Huts or Den Outdoors for some really cool cabin kits.
These pre-fab kits come in a wide variety of price ranges and styles that can suit any budget making them an affordable option, particularly if you decide to do it yourself. Not for the faint of heart, but if you have a reasonable amount of handy skills and a limited budget, it’s a good option to consider.
Whether you opt for a pre-fabricated kit for your build or do your own custom build, there are a number of costs to include in your budget in addition to your materials and labor.
Additional Costs for Building an A-frame Home
In addition to the material and labor costs of building an A-frame house, you’ll need to factor in the additional costs of a new build. Additional expenses to factor into your budget may include the following :
- Cost of Land
- Land clearing costs
- Building permit costs
- Costs to install a septic tank
- Costs to slope a lawn
- Costs to add insulation
- Contingency costs are always a good idea to include in your budget
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Window Cost for A-frame Homes
A-Frames shouldn’t skimp on quality windows since the windows in the front and back will be a key feature for the house and provide natural light. Window installation for an A-frame home can start at $150 a window and run as high as $800 per window depending on size and quality. You’ll want to ensure you have enough windows to keep the house from appearing dark. Much of the appeal of A-frame construction is the harmony of the outdoors and natural light coming into the home.
Prefab kits will have a range of prices for windows depending on the layout you decided to use. If you want to know more about the window installation of your A-frame building, it is recommended to talk to a general contractor.
In general, to frame a roof costs between $13,500 and $16,000. Most people spend about $15,000 on the framing of the roof on a two-story home. Since the roof is a signature element of your A-frame, you may want to spend more on the roof if budget allows. Metal roofs have grown in popularity in recent years. While they are initially more expensive than single roofs, they also last longer and therefore might be a better investment in the long run.
How Long Does It Take to Build an A-frame Home?
On average, it takes between 4 to 8 months to build a regular, simple A-frame home. If your home is highly custom, or the location is tricky, then the building process may take longer. It will also depend on your labor – whether you are doing it yourself or hiring professionals can impact the amount of time needed to complete the build.
Factors That Influence the Cost of An A-frame House
The overall price of an A-frame house depends on numerous factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- The size of the house. Obviously, the bigger the A-frame house, the more the cost. On the other hand, the bigger the A-frame house, the lower is the price per given area. This is because there are some fixed costs regardless of the size such as a kitchen, stove, or fireplace, ventilation units, and heating systems, bathrooms, and other basic requirements.
- Personalization degree. You can personalize the house or kit with additional items like skylights, decks, windows, and dormers. The structure of an A-frame home is self-supporting so interior partition walls can be removed, moved, or added as desired which will alter the costs of the building.
- The ground conditions. The first work you need to do on-site when building an A-frame home is groundwork. The cost and complexity of groundwork depend on the nature of the land you are building on. It’s best to get a qualified contractor to assess the costs of building on your land as a starting point. The location. Generally, transport costs are in the range of 10-15% of the price of a prefab kit. Some locations are harder to reach than others, which makes transport costs for materials higher.
- Labor. A-frame homes are appealing because they can be built yourself if you have a reasonable set of skills. Many pre-fabricated kits are made to be built yourself which will save a considerable amount of money but may take more time and frustration. If you don’t have building skills, you’ll save yourself hassle and stress by hiring professional builders to assemble. The most expensive option is to hire a general contractor who will charge a mark-up to manage the project but will probably be the least stressful.
- The time of the year. Timing of the build can also affect the cost. Usually, builders are the busiest from Spring to Fall so building in winter may save you some money, although you may have weather delays.
- The finishing works. Both interior and exterior finishes will affect the cost of your build so whether you are choosing more basic finishes vs luxury finishes can greatly affect the overall cost of building your A-frame.
There is much to consider for any building project. Whether you decide to build your own A-frame or choose a pre-fabricated kit, make sure you factor in the additional costs on top of labor and materials. The simple nature of an A-frame structure is appealing to many for their main home or vacation home. The A-frame can be a more affordable option but it will depend on the many choices you make along the way in terms of materials, labor, and finishes. Hopefully, this information is a helpful start to making your A-frame dreams a reality.