May 9, 2022


Frame House Cost 101: The Essential Guide

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As you consider building your vacation rental to post on Airbnb, you may be drawn to the unique and charming design of an A-frame house or cabin.

Their popularity has been on the rise in recent years, thanks in part to their stunning visuals when photographed or posted on social media. They also offer a level of sustainability which makes them popular among tiny-home enthusiasts. But what are the costs associated with this type of construction? 

In this article, I explore this question and provide some ballpark estimates for the cost of building an A-frame house. Let's take a closer look at the expense of building an A-frame house, as well as some of the factors that can affect the price.

What Is An A-Frame House?

An A-frame house is a type of building that has a triangular roof. The exterior resembles the letter "A." These buildings are typically one or two stories high, with steep roofs. They usually have large windows on the front and back. On the ground floor, the living room and kitchen area, whereas the top floor will have a sleeping area.

A-frame homes are becoming increasingly popular, especially for vacation rentals. The steep roof and floor-to-ceiling windows offer a unique and cozy design that can be a big draw for guests. And since they are relatively simple to construct, they can be a more affordable option than some more traditional home styles.

History Of A-Frame Homes

Rudolph Schindler designed the first A-frame house in 1934 as a vacation home near Los Angeles, California's Lake Arrowood. After World War II, a growing number of Americans were interested in buying second homes or vacation properties.

They have long been popular worldwide, ranging from farmhouses in Shirakawa-go in Japan to ski chalets in the Alps. The design has a rugged look that complements outdoor landscapes.

Pros And Cons Of These Triangle Shaped Houses

Let’s next look at the pros and cons of these types of houses.

5 Benefits Of An A-Frame Home

The beauty of an A-frame house is that it offers you the chance to get away from the hectic pace of city life. These homes are designed to get you closer to nature and outdoor enthusiasts often admire A-frame vacation cabin rentals.

They come in a variety of aesthetically pleasing add ons such as decks, skylights, lofts, and balconies.

Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Unique Design: An A-frame house offers a unique and eye-catching design that is sure to stand out from the crowd. This can be a significant selling point for vacation rental properties.
  • Easy to construct: A-frame homes are straightforward to plan, engineer, and construct.
  • More outside light: The majority of A-frame residences feature large windows on the front and back walls. Adding skylights to your A-frame is another option for more natural light. Skylights may make the interior of the house seem larger. 
  • Sloping sides repel the snow: An A-frame's steep roof prevents snow from piling up and causing damage. Many ski chalets in snowy areas are A-frame log cabins. 
  • Good insulation: This type of construction also offers good insulation in hot or cold climates and strong structures with fewer materials needed. Eco-friendly choices include sustainable timber and prefabricated homes.

Imagine waking up every morning to stunning views of nature right outside your window. With an A-frame home, this dream can become a reality. You'll fall in love with the natural beauty that surrounds you and never wants to leave your home again.

The Drawbacks Of An A-Frame House

A-frame houses have a limited amount of living space. Because of the way the roof is designed, there is only so much space that can be utilized inside, and it can be pretty challenging to add more space in the future. This can make them quite cramped and uncomfortable for larger families.

In the winter, it's difficult to keep warm. Heat rises, and it congregates in the loft area near the top of the building. In the summer, this may be a little suffocating. Still, more importantly, it makes keeping the ground level (the main floor) warm in the winter difficult.

Sure, you can make some interior changes, but the A-frame's traditional design is inflexible. If you want to do something major, such as adding a second story or increasing the size of the house significantly, you're out of luck.

How Much Does An A-Frame House Cost?

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $250 per square foot. You can even find over-the-top luxury cabins built at $500 per square foot. The cost of building a single-family home (SFR) on the other hand, is about $100 to $200 per square foot. Knowing the various costs of building a house can help you understand if you have the required budget.

You can pick up a basic wooden 196ft. A-Frame Bunk Cabin from Denoutdoor’s website. They estimate it will cost upwards of $47,922 to build.

For example:

  • 1,500-square-foot A-frame house would cost between $75,000 and $375,000 to build.
  • a 2,000-square-foot home would cost between $100,000 and $500,000.

The cost of building can vary depending on these factors:

  • The total amount of square footage.
  • A connection to public utilities.
  • The construction process, build it on-site vs. prefabricated.
  • Materials used in the exterior and interior of the structure.
  • Interior finishes including lofts, kitchen counters, cabinets, appliances, windows, and doors.
  • Exterior Add-ons such as decks, balconies, and porches.

Are A-Frame House Kits Worth It?

Building an A-frame house from scratch can be a daunting task, but with the help of an A-frame house kit, it's definitely within reach. Avrame offers A-frame kits that provide all of the materials you need to build. Their smallest kit at 141 sq. ft. (which includes structure, interior, and exterior) will set you back about $40,000.

This can be a major advantage. It ensures that all materials are compatible and that the construction process goes smoothly. Furthermore, because the framing is already done, it's less likely to have any problems with the roof or the walls.

A-frame kit prices start at around $10,000 and go up to $100,000 or more, depending on the size of the house. If you're handy with a hammer and want to take on the challenge of building your own home, an A-frame kit is a great way to go.

Factors To Consider Before You Build An A-frame House

Building permits and other fees can quickly add up when building an A-frame house. Make sure you factor these in when estimating the cost of building an A-frame house.

Geographical location does play a significant role as well. The cost of building an A-frame house in New York City will be much higher than the cost of building one in rural Montana.

Suppose you're building in a remote location. In that case, the cost of materials, transporting them, and labor will be higher than if you were to build in a more developed area. If you're building on a slope, you'll need to factor in the cost of excavating and leveling the land. You may have to pay for access to the water, sewer, and power lines.

Hiring an architect or designer to help you plan the build is always a good idea. They will be able to help you maximize the space in your A-frame while keeping the costs down.

DIY vs. Hiring A Professional

When most people think of the process of building a house, they picture hiring a contractor to manage the construction. If you plan to build an A-frame house it's important to be realistic about your ability to take on such a project. If you choose to build one yourself with the aid of a kit, make sure to factor in the cost of obtaining all of the necessary tools and equipment.

Although building a prefabricated kit may appear more economical, they are manufactured off-site and need to be assembled on-site. Find out the cost of transporting the prefab kit to your build location. This will help you determine if hiring a professional to build a custom A-frame with locally sourced lumbar is a better option.

Hiring a contractor will add to the cost, whether a prefab kit or a custom build. But it could save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Remember to select from the best custom builders in the area and compare their rates.

A Frame House Cost 101: FAQ

See the most asked questions

Are A-Frame Houses Energy-Efficient?

Because of their architectural design, heating, and cooling, A-Frames are naturally energy-efficient - as long as there are no significant energy leaks and the building is sealed correctly.

Are A-Frames Structurally Sound?

A-Frames are some of the most structurally sound homes available. With proper construction, an A-Frame can last for centuries. The triangular shape distributes weight evenly. Also, since there are no interior load-bearing walls, the entire structure is very stable.

Is an A-frame Home Eco-Friendly?

They are more efficient to build because they require less material, especially if you elect a prefabricated kit. They are often made of sustainable timber, which comes from continually replanted forests. With an A-frame, you can have all the benefits of eco-friendly construction without sacrificing style or comfort.

How Long Does It Take To Build An A Frame?

The construction period usually ranges from a week to a few months. The time it takes to construct an A-frame house is primarily determined by the structure's size and degree of complexity. If you're using a prefabricated kit, construction will go more quickly than if you were constructing from the ground up.

Bottom Line: No One-Cost-Fits-All

The cost of achieving the A-frame look can vary drastically. You can go from an ultra-basic prefabricated cabin with no utilities for under $10,000 or get the top of the line for hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Building an A-frame can be a fun and rewarding experience with the right team in place. Remember, the cost of building an A-frame house varies depending on your location and the builder you choose, so make sure you get all the information you need before making a final decision. 

If you're considering building an A-frame house, be sure to do your research and get estimates from a few different builders. These homes are becoming increasingly popular, so there is a good chance that you can find the right expert to build one for you.

Keep reading on Thinking about building your own property? Here's another article on the cost of building a barndominium for your consideration.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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