How to Build an A-Frame | Bedford NY Realtor

How to Build an A-Frame

The iconic rural getaway digs, an A-frame home is a low-cost, simple and sturdy structure that sports elegant soaring ceilings and can include a cozy loft.

From Fox Chapel Publishing
November 25, 2011

Cabins And Cottages
Whether you want to build a sophisticated chalet, a low-key rustic retreat or the off-the-grid home you’ve long dreamt about, “Cabins & Cottages” has the know-how you need to get started confidently and finish beautifully. This detailed, color-illustrated guide pilots you through all of the pre-building considerations, such as assessing and preparing your site, and then lays out step-by-step instructions for fashioning four structures: a classic log cabin, an A-frame cabin, a cottage of prefab panels, and a house suspended on poles. You’ll also learn how to equip your new lodging with heat, running water and all of the other comforts of home.

The following is an excerpt from Cabins & Cottages (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2011). Ready to make the leap from sheds and chicken coops to larger-scale DIY projects? Or just looking to expand your carpentry skills and repertoire of building experience? Meet Cabins & Cottages, your comprehensive resource for creating simple, affordable, permanent living spaces. From the woodworking and crafting pros at Fox Chapel Publishing, Cabins & Cottages leaves no know-how stone unturned, and it also details how to design a home to withstand some of the worst Mother Nature can dish out (heavy snow, flooding, high winds), making it a valuable resource for any builder. This excerpt is from Chapter 3, “Four Simple Structures.” 


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One of the sturdiest of all structures is the A-frame, whose skeleton consists simply of a row of triangles. The bases of the triangles are the joists that support the floor, and the sides are the rafters that hold the combined walls and roof. The simplicity of construction and comparatively low cost make it a popular choice for vacation cabins. Any style of foundation can serve as its base.

Planning Your A-Frame Structure

As you read this article, you’ll likely find it helpful to reference this labeled illustration of the completed A-frame. — MOTHER 

The most common shape is equilateral — joists and rafters are equal in length and set at angles of 60 degrees to each other. You can use different angles to modify the shape, however (see “Common Floor-to-Rafter Angles,” below). An A-frame can be built to almost any size simply by varying the number of triangles and their dimensions, but a cabin with a sleeping loft must have rafters at least 20 feet long to allow adequate headroom on both floors. For a small structure like the one described here, three people can lift the assembled triangles into place without the assistance of special equipment. A structure with rafters greater than 24 feet may prove too unwieldy for a crew of amateurs. Frame doors and windows in the end walls. For a large A-frame, plan a lot of windows to keep the interior from being too dark.

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