A-Frame Tiny Houses

What is a tiny house a-frameWhat is a Tiny House A-Frame

A-frame tiny house designFRAMES have always fascinated me as a bit of nostalgic architecture, but also as an interesting snapshot of American optimism. They rose to popularity in a time when many were entering into the middle class and cars became common place.

The idea of the weekend getaway became a thing for the first time and people look to rural parts of the country to build a cabin in the woods. Enter a simple but practical design called the A-frame.

Today’s modern A-frame tiny houses are designed and built with full-time living in mind. Although many people still adore this architectural style as a cabin or vacation home, the shape has really taken off in the tiny house movement.

Now, not all A-frames are considered tiny houses. In fact, there are small A-frame houses and even quite large options. A-frame tiny houses usually fall between 100-400 sq. ft. Small tiny A-frame houses are typically between 400-1000 sq. ft. Both styles are popular for those who want to build their own dwelling and take on tiny house living.

tiny house a-frame sections

pros and cons of a-frame tiny housesPros and Cons of Tiny House A-Frames

Like any architectural style, A-frame tiny houses come with a list of pros and cons. The biggest advantage of the style is that it is relatively easy to construct, which appeals to many who want to build their tiny A-frame on a small plot of land.

The simple design means you do away with side walls entirely, opting for a larger roof plane instead. What normally would be a wall system made up of studs, top/bottom plates, sills, and a complex roof truss structure becomes a single piece of lumber you only have to make two cuts on.

This monolithic roof isn’t without its downsides, though. The sloped roof creates less usable internal space because you can only stand up straight so close to the wall.

A-frame tiny houses tend to skew a bit bigger than most because you need a wider and taller house to have enough livable space within the sloped roofs. If an A-frame style is appealing to you, don’t get too caught up in thinking a tiny house “should” be so many square feet, build a house that works for you!

  • Simple to construct
  • Low cost
  • Strong shape
  • Low maintenance
  • Durable under weather conditions
  • Retro style
  • Simple and minimalist design
  • Less usable space because of slope
  • More exterior area means less efficiency
  • Temperature control can be a challenge
  • The Loft can be uncomfortable
  • Steep roofs are hard to service
  • Some folks feels the style is dated
  • Limited natural light

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Free A-Frame Tiny House Plans

If you’re considering building your own A-frame tiny house or small A-frame cabin, good plans can be hard to come by. Studying a set of plans can help you determine a design that works for you, estimate how much a tiny house A-frame costs, what materials you’ll need, and more.

Viewing the floor plan will help you get a feel for layouts in an A-frame tiny house. You can start to envision the possibilities for your own tiny house A-frame and how it might work with your lifestyle.

I’ve put together these plans that you can get for free. They include a 14’x14’ tiny house A-frame and another layout for a 16’x16’ design. Included in the PDF is a full materials list, sample cost breakdown, tool list, and more!

free a-frame tiny house plans

Ray Grayford

Design Tip:

Find a good set of plans that allow you to envision how space will be used and how furniture will fit (especially consider low overhead areas). You may want to consider using a 3-d program such as Sketch-up, or even building a simple wood/cardboard model to scale.

– Ray Grayford – Website

a-frame plans for sale signA-Frame Tiny House Plans For Sale

Once you’ve taken a look at the A-frame floor plans above, you should have a good handle on what you like and don’t like about the A-frame layout. Maybe you’re starting to generate ideas on how an A-frame tiny house could work for you.

If you’re seriously considering building an A-frame tiny house and you’d like additional floor plan options, I suggest exploring some of these A-frame plans for sale below. These tiny house floor plan sellers are experienced and familiar with the requirements of building a tiny house. Investing in a good set of floor plans will ensure first time builders don’t miss important details.

relaxshacks a-frame kits

These little Relaxshacks are a glamorous step up from camping. With a spot for one or two beds, a mini kitchenette, and space for relaxation, these are cute vacation options. This design doesn’t feature a bathroom, but all other features are there, making it an excellent camping choice.

pin-up houses a-frame kits

Pin-up Houses offer a wide range of A-frame tiny houses, A-frame small houses, and cabins. The Alexis is a small-but-roomy 306-sq.-ft. tiny house option with a kitchenette, porch, bathroom, and small loft. There’s a 134-sq.-ft. living room that is nicely sized. The plans include material recommendations.

pin-up houses a-frame tiny house kits

If you’re looking for a simple shelter for camping and weekend relaxation, the Lily is a small but adequate A-frame tiny house design. Lily features storage space and enough room to sleep two people comfortably. There’s no plumbing, but it would make a fun A-frame vacation shelter.

pin-up houses tiny house a-frame kits

The Rebecca from Pin-up Houses is an A-frame small house with two stories, plumbing, and three potential bedrooms. This design shows a great range of A-Frame tiny house possibilities. It would be great for a couple or a small family, with room to grow.

If you’re a first-time tiny house builder, an A-frame tiny house is a relatively simple design that’s easy to build. That said, there are several good reasons to build from an A-frame tiny house kit rather than making your first tiny house from scratch.

Priit Kallejärv

Design Tip:

A-frame houses have a special design and don’t fit to every environment. The steep roof pitch is likely going to be problematic in urban areas. In the countryside, however, there are often less code restrictions to follow, making it more likely to get a green light from the local authorities to proceed with the project.

– Priit Kallejärv – Website

a-frame tiny house kits
With an A-frame tiny house kit, you’ll get precisely the right materials and pieces you’ll need. You won’t have to worry about the planning and troubleshooting, which can lead to expensive mistakes. Even expert tiny house builders make mistakes that can add up, so if it’s your first time, weigh out the cost of your time, planning, and an allotment for any mistakes before deciding that a kit is a more expensive route. In the end, you may save money by opting for one of these great A-frame tiny house kits.

Avrame A-frame tiny houses

Avrame

I really like the look and modular nature of the Avrame A-frame tiny houses. The SOLO series ranges from 141-247 sq. ft. Avrame is based in Estonia, but they offer many resources on A-frame tiny house kits.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses
Back Country Huts a-frame kits

Back Country Huts

Back Country Huts kits are based in Canada, but they also ship to the United States. These modern styled A-frame tiny house kits are designed for self-assembly with a clear step-by-step guide.

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Den A-frame kits

Den

Den A-frame kits are priced out with exactly how much it costs to build an A-frame tiny house from their kits. The spacious design features 14-foot ceilings and a wall of glass to let in light.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses
M.A.DI. modular A-frame unit kits

Madi

M.A.DI. modular A-frame unit kits are available only in Europe. Still, the designs are beautiful, and the website is worth checking out for inspiration and ideas (even if you are in the United States).

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses
Nolla A-frame cabin

Nolla

The Helsinki designer Robin Falck created the beautiful Nolla A-frame cabin, with a minimalist and energy-efficient design. Again, this A-frame is an excellent design to check out for inspiration as you plan.

Gary Boatwright a-frame house

Design Tip:

Before you start building an A-frame house be sure to research city and county codes and make sure your room sizes will fit with at least 5 feet hight at outside wall or more for appraisal, if need.

– Gary Boatwright – Website

A-Frame on a Foundation VS an A-Frame on a Trailer

So should you build your A-frame tiny house on a foundation or on a trailer? Well, it depends on your needs. The main reason to build any tiny house on a trailer is usually to get around building codes. The other advantage of a trailer is that you gain mobility. Should you decide to move someday, you can take your house with you.

If the building codes aren’t a concern for your area (and be sure to check out the codes thoroughly before you build), then you can certainly build an A-frame tiny house on a slab foundation. A benefit to building on a foundation is that you can make it wider,creating more floor space.

Since trailers have a maximum width allowed by the DOT, you’ll only be able to have an A-frame tiny house 8.5 feet wide, which doesn’t leave a lot of room inside with the steel sloping roof.

a-frame on a foundation

A-FRAME ON A FOUNDATION

Building an A-frame on a slab foundation allows you to size the A-frame cabin or tiny house to your preference. You can create it as wide as you like, which enables you to lower the roof’s angle. If you build on a foundation, take the time to research the different foundation options (pier, slab, crawlspace, or basement). A slab foundation is generally less expensive than building on a trailer, so that’s something you should also consider.

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A-FRAME ON A TRAILER

If you choose to build your A-frame on a trailer, you’ll be beholden to the size of the trailer (8.5 ft. wide). That said, there are some significant advantages to building any tiny house on a trailer (which is why I built my own tiny home on a trailer). When you build on a trailer, you’ll build from the bottom up — sizing the flooring and the base first. This video walks through an A-frame tiny house build on a trailer.

a-frame on a trailer

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photos of a-frame housesPhotos of A-Frame Houses

This blue A-frame tiny house with an orange porch and patio for dining looks perfectly appropriate in the forest setting
From the inside, the A-frame tiny house has a spacious kitchen with plenty of room for a full-size fridge.
The loft of this A-frame tiny house features plenty of room for a standard double bed and nightstand.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

This wooden A-frame tiny house with a dining porch is a basic design but offers ample room.
 This A-frame tiny house's interior shows some nice living touches like a small table and a kitchenette with a shelf near the window.
An interior shot of this A-frame shows retro-flare with a woodburning stove and a mid-century styled sitting space.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

A solar-friendly roof allows lots of light into this A-frame tiny house, making the space efficient and bright.
The windowed sides on this A-frame tiny house lift to allow fresh air and create more space.
The interior of this A-frame tiny cabin is perfect for camping with a small kitchenette and two sleeping areas.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

This A-frame tiny house features a dormer to create more loft space in the second story.
An interior shot of this A-frame tiny house shows a roomy dormered bedroom decorated in white.
This A-frame small house kitchen is enormous, thanks to a layout that runs along with one of the walls.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

An interior of a small A-frame cabin shows how roomy the living room can feel with elevated ceilings and a woodburning stove.
 A loft space in this A-frame features plenty of room for several beds.
This small A-frame house has a spacious bathroom with plenty of white to keep the room airy and open.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

This architecturally beautiful A-frame house has a glass front and an alternative shape, making it a unique choice.
The interior of this alternative A-frame tiny house shows an area for sleeping, a wood stove, and a dining table.
The kitchenette in this A-frame tiny house is small but adequate, with a cupboard, stovetop, and tiny sink.

tiny house a-frame sections

pictures of a-frame house exteriorsPhotos of A-Frame Exteriors

This A-frame tiny house has a bright green door and horizontal wooden siding for rustic appeal.
A blue A-frame tiny house looks fantastic with a geometric wooden pattern on the front door.
The windowed peak of this A-frame tiny house shows a beautiful high ceiling with plenty of light from the hanging fixture.

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This small wooden A-frame cabin has room for sleeping and a small porch
A black A-frame tiny cottage makes a perfect reading nook, outdoor guestroom, or small bedroom.
A wooden A-frame tiny house is a nice camping spot on the beach with a porch and windowed front.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

A simple sided A-frame tiny house in tan and brown makes a great starter home for tiny house newbies.
This A-frame time house nestled in the woods has a large deck for gathering and entertaining.
A highly-pitched roof on this A-frame tiny house adds to the space while covering the porch.

tiny house a-frame sections

pictures of a-frame house loftsPhotos of A-Frame Lofts

This A-frame loft has room for two people to sleep quite comfortably in twin beds with a nightstand in between.
This A-frame tiny house loft has a spacious bedroom with a double bed and two small foot tables.
The sleeping loft of this A-frame tiny house overlooks the mountains with a large window.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

A tray table makes an A-frame loft a perfect place to enjoy breakfast in bed.
This A-frame loft has enough room for a substantial king-sized bed — the perfect spot for reading a book.
Dark walls look stunning with the sky windows in this A-frame loft bedroom with a large king-sized bed.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

Shelving above the sleeping space is a great way to add storage space to an A-frame loft.
A-frame loft bedrooms can be maximized with shelving, plants, and décor to make the most of the small space.
High wooden ceilings make this A-frame loft bedroom an excellent spot for sleeping. Blue and yellow pillows and a nightstand complete the look.

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

Another shot of this A-frame loft that sleeps a family of four or five comfortably.
A hammock in your whitewashed A-frame loft provides a different place to sleep, especially if you use the space as an office.
This A-frame loft has plenty of windows to look out on the snowy landscape below.

A-Frame Experts

A-FRAME EXPERT CONSTRUCTION TIPS

Jake Davis-Hansson

Because A-frames don’t use conventional framing, there is a lot less information about structural things like spans, member sizes, fasteners and so on. Make sure all parts of your design have been looked over by a structural engineer.

– Jake Davis-Hansson – Website

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

Priit Kallejärv

It is always smart to have 1 person in your team with a construction background to eliminate possible mistakes. Obviously all the special parts (plumbing, electrical system, HVAC etc.) should be done by a specialist.

– Priit Kallejärv – Website

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Deek Diedricksen

Take your time and enlist help when it comes to raising the A’s and in the sheathing and roofing phases (for larger a-frames), you’re dealing with an extremely steep roof pitch with most of these and lugging and affixing huge plywood sheets from a ladder can get tiring, not to mention dangerous, in a hurry. Consider some good scaffolding, too.

– Deek Diedricksen – Website

the tiny life a-frame tiny houses

Ray Grayford

Consider using a metal roof as it is fast, efficient, and lower maintenance than other choices. Also, if the A-frame will have electrical power, use mini-split heating/cooling units to save on space that would be required for duct-work.

– Ray Grayford – Website

a-frame step by step guide

Ready to build an A-frame tiny house? I’ve broken down the tools and guidelines here to help you plan your big build. An A-frame small house, cabin, or tiny home is a good way for first-time builders to learn as they go. The A-frame shape is a simple design, and if you opt to build from a kit, the process can be even easier.

Of course, there are plenty of pre-built options out there as well, but if you’re hoping to save money and DIY, this is a great option. A-frames also make nice vacation homes, satellite offices, studios, or guest rooms. Watch this video for more details on what it takes to build an A-frame tiny house.

How long does it take to build an A-frame? How much will your A-frame cost? It all depends on the simplicity of the design, your experience, and materials. A simple A-frame shed or camping space may take only a day or two and cost less than $5000. A more robust design could take weeks or months and cost thousands more.

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Common Tools For Building An A-Frame

You can build an A-frame tiny home with a pretty basic set of tools, but you might want to invest in a few labor-saving ones. If you’re starting from scratch, plan on spending about $1,500 dollars for everything you’ll need.

While you can go middle of the road or buy some used tools for many of these, there are a few tools I’d buy brand new and consider paying a little extra for higher-end versions. The first one is an impact driver and drill set with four batteries — this is going to be a tool you use a ton and for this I’d budget between $300 to $400. You don’t want to cheap out or buy used, particularly when it comes to batteries.

I’d also splurge a little and purchase a basic 6-gallon compressor, with a brad nailer, a finish nailer and a framing nailer. While you can certainly use a hammer for this, you’ll move a lot faster and save a lot of energy if you have an air powered set of tools. You usually can get a compressor with a hose and 2 smaller nail guns for around $350 and a framing nailer (I’d consider used for this) for $100-$250.

The final thing I’d splurge on is a good level and maybe a laser level, too. Cheaping out on these things will only hurt you later, as making sure things are level and plumb is critical.

Common Tools for Building an A-frame

Estimated Usable Floor Space in an A-frame

How much space will you have in your A-frame tiny house? It’s always best to calculate the space you’ll need before you start to build. It’s also essential that you know the building codes in your area so you can get the proper permits and be sure the dimensions are up to code. With an A-frame, the useable floor space is the biggest question. Use the grid below to help you measure and plan.

Size Foot Print Usable Sq/Ft
8′ x 8′ 64 sq/ft 10 sq/ft
10′ x 10′ 100 sq/ft 40 sq/ft
12′ x 12′ 144 sq/ft 60 sq/ft
14′ x 14′ 256 sq/ft 144 sq/ft
16′ x 16′ 324 sq/ft 198 sq/ft
18′ x 18′ 400 sq/ft 260 sq/ft
20′ x 20′ 400 sq/ft 260 sq/ft
22′ x 22′ 484 sq/ft 330 sq/ft
24′ x 24′ 576 sq/ft 408 sq/ft
Size Foot Print Usable Sq/Ft
26′ x 26′ 676 sq/ft 494 sq/ft
28′ x 28′ 784 sq/ft 588 sq/ft
30′ x 30′ 900 sq/ft 690 sq/ft
32′ x 32′ 1,024 sq/ft 800 sq/ft
34′ x 34′ 1,156 sq/ft 918 sq/ft
36′ x 36′ 1,296 sq/ft 1,044 sq/ft
38′ x 38′ 1,444 sq/ft 1,178 sq/ft
40′ x 40′ 1,600 sq/ft 1,320 sq/ft
42′ x 42′ 1,764 sq/ft 1,470 sq/ft

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A-Frame Interior Height Chart

How tall will your A-frame be? The size of the flooring dictates the pitch of the roof (determining your interior height). Use the chart below to help you calculate your ceiling height. Remember, if you want to include a loft, you’ll want a steeper pitch (or a bigger floorplan).

A-Frame Interior Height Chart

tiny house a-frame sections

Materials For Building A Tiny House A-frame

What materials will you need to build an A-frame tiny house? Of course, many of the materials are dependent on the design specifications, size of your tiny house, and plans. But for the most part you’ll use the same ones, just in varying quantities based off the scale of your build.

There are some instances where choosing a lower cost item is a great place to save some money, while skimping on others is foolhardy. The two areas I suggest not skimping is your roofing material and insulation.

Your roof is the thing that protects everything else from water damage, so here I’d spend time and money to make sure it’s done right. I’d start with a good roof decking of plywood instead of OSB, and on top of that I’d opt for Ice and Water Shield instead of standard tar paper. Finally, if you can afford it, a standing seam metal roof with hidden fasteners is expensive, but it will last 50+ years and have no spaces water can leak in from.

Your insulation is another place that you should not try to penny pinch on. Because so much of your A-frame tiny home is roof, you want to keep the heat in. To do this, I’d make sure you frame with larger timbers to give yourself more room to insulate, shooting for an R 30-40 insulation.

Cement Footers for an a-frame

Cement Footers

Cement footers keep your tiny house from seeping moisture and cold temperatures. These footers form the cornerstones of your home.

Plywood Sheets for building tiny houses

Plywood Sheets

Plywood sheets will help you form the walls of your A-frame tiny house. You’ll need to check your design so that you purchase enough to fit the exact dimensions.

door for a-frame tiny house

Doors

Depending on your A-frame tiny house’s size and layout, you will need a front door and potentially a back door and interior door for the bathroom.

windows for a-frame tiny houses

Windows

One of the drawbacks of the A-frame is that the interiors can get quite dark. Plenty of windows will help you let in light.


2x4 boards for construction

2x4x8′

When you frame your A-frame tiny house, you’ll need plenty of 2 x 4’ boards. These will be used to form the “frame” of your roof, walls, and flooring.

2x10 boards for building

2x10x12′

Wider 2x10x12’ boards are often needed for an A-frame tiny house build as well. Again, check your design specifications to ensure you purchase the right number of boards for framing.

2x12 lumber

2x12x16′

To reach the height of a highly pitched ceiling, you may require longer boards for framing your A-frame tiny house. Again, your design and tiny house plans should guide you.

skylight for tiny house a-frame

Skylight

Many A-frame owners love a skylight. These can be installed right in the roof to let in more light on the sides of your A-frame tiny house.


best insulation for a-frame

Insulation

Unless you’re building a very small camping shed or A-frame garden studio, insulation will be necessary for your build.

fasteners for construction

Fasteners

High-quality fasteners will help hold the boards in place and keep your A-frame strong and secure.

asphalt roofing shingles

Roof Shingles

When you calculate your shingle requirements, you’ll need to plan on the A-frame’s unique shape and roof size.

weather shield paper

Weather Shield

An A-frame is mostly roof, so it’s essential to take all the necessary steps to build out the roof, including using the proper weather shield to keep moisture, snow, and ice out of your building.


cedar shingles

Cedar Shingles

For an A-frame tiny house, cedar shingles are an excellent, high-quality option that can last for years with the right staining and treatment.

stain for exterior wood products

Stain

Any wooden tiny house will require plenty of high-quality stain to ensure the wood stays waterproof and protected from weather and time.

toungue and groove interior siding

T&G Interior Siding

To finish the interior walls of your A-frame, I suggest tongue and groove siding. This wooden siding is easily painted any color (or stained) and looks great, eliminating the need for drywall.

flooring for a tiny house

Flooring

Select sturdy, high-quality solid wood flooring for your A-frame tiny house. You can stain the flooring or tile on top once you’ve created the basic structure.

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step by step guide to build an a-frame tiny house

Basic Steps to Build an A-Frame Tiny House

Set cement footers for an a-frame foundation

Set cement footers for foundation

tiny house a-frame sections

Install posts and level off to same height

Install posts and level off to same height

tiny house a-frame sections

Set floor joists for tiny house

Set floor joists

tiny house a-frame sections

Fill in floor framing

Fill in floor framing

tiny house a-frame sections

Install insulation in between floor joists

Install insulation in between floor joists

tiny house a-frame sections

Install plywood over floor joists

Install plywood over floor joists

tiny house a-frame sections

Build main roof and walls of a-frame

Build main roof/walls

tiny house a-frame sections

Install plywood on a-frame roof

Install plywood on roof

tiny house a-frame sections

Install weather shield or felt paper

Install weather shield or felt paper

tiny house a-frame sections

Install metal or shingle roof

Install metal or shingle roof

tiny house a-frame sections

Install wall insulation on interior walls

Install wall insulation

tiny house a-frame sections

Install finished flooring

Install flooring

tiny house a-frame sections

Construct front and rear wall framing

Construct front and rear wall framing

tiny house a-frame sections

Finish front and rear walls and add doors and windows

Finish front and rear walls and add doors and windows

tiny house a-frame sections

free a-frame tiny house plans

Ray Grayford

Budgeting Tip:

Try to keep dimensions in 2′ increments, so plywood and other lumber is incorporated easily and with little waste. Use standard insulated window sizes where possible, as custom glass shapes are more expensive.

– Ray Grayford – Website

A-Frame Tiny House Costs

As I’ve mentioned above, determining the big question, “How much is an A-frame tiny house?” isn’t so simple. You’ll need to consider the size, the materials, the layout, and all your needs. Still, I certainly know it’s easier to plan when you have a ballpark figure to work with.

Using the A-frame building plan above, I’ve calculated the materials estimate for a 16’x20’ A-frame tiny house. Again, this doesn’t necessarily factor in any of the interior extras — this is simply the shell for an A-frame.

Materials Estimate for a 16′ x 20′ A-Frame Tiny House

Item Quantity Cost Subtotal
Cement Footers 16 $45.00 $720.00
Plywood 34 $47.32 $1,608.88
2x12x16 34 $29.48 $1,002.32
2x10x12 12 $24.64 $295.68
2x4x8 40 $5.96 $238.40
Door 2 $800.00 $1,600.00
Windows 7 $350.00 $2,450.00
Skylights 2 $450.00 $900.00
Insulation 34 $21.98 $747.32
Fasteners 1 $800.00 $800.00
Shingles 18 $29.79 $536.22
Ice and Water Shield 6 $79.89 $479.34
Cedar Shingle Pack 15 $35.98 $539.70
Stain 3 $19.48 $58.44
T & G Int Siding 480 $5.38 $2,582.40
Flooring 460 $4.00 $1,840.00
$16,398.70

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Your Turn!

  • Have you considering building an A-frame tiny house?
  • What size are you thinking of building your A-frame?

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