Build Your Own Low-Cost Prefabricated A-Frame Home

If you itch to own a place in the country or a vacation cabin but can't afford to buy one ready-made, you can build your own low-cost prefabricated A-frame home in sections to be assembled on site.

| November/December 1985

  • 096-124-01a
    The completed home cost the Wades $12,000 to construct.
    PHOTO: JACK WADE
  • 096-124-01b
    Jack and his wife built the A-frame trusses in movable sections.
    JACK WADE
  • 096-124-01
    Erecting the trusses took just two days . . . And the entire shell was closed in two weeks later!
    JACK WADE

  • 096-124-01a
  • 096-124-01b
  • 096-124-01

Learn how to build your own low-cost prefabricated A-frame home from the ground up. (See the A-frame photos in the image gallery.)

For the past few years, I've been involved with an exciting concept in low-cost housing: I prefabricate modified A-frame homes in my spare time, right in my own backyard, then transport the presawn parts to rural lots where, with help from the purchasers and their friends, I can have a new dwelling up and weathertight in only two weeks.

It all started some time ago, when my wife and I decided to move to a more rural setting. But—as is the case with a great many people—our relocation plans were stymied by the prohibitive cost of purchasing a ready-made house; it seemed that the only way we'd be able to afford a country roof over our heads would be to put it there ourselves and build a low-cost prefabricated A-frame home. But given the time limitations of my annual two-week vacation, building from scratch didn't seem like a viable alternative, either.

For a while, we toyed with the idea of purchasing a factory-prefabricated log cabin and erecting it ourselves—but when we looked into kit homes, we found their cost to be a bit high for our budget. However, the idea of prefabrication had taken a firm hold on my imagination, and, being an engineer by trade, I decided to try designing a structure with component parts that my wife and I could prefabricate ourselves—at home, during our evenings and weekends—then transport to a rural building site for rapid assembly.



This approach, I reasoned, would allow us to make optimum use of our spare time and, once the assembly was begun, to quickly get the structure weathertight. So I chained myself to my drawing board until I came up with a design that would meet uniform building code requirements, maximize living space, and minimize both material costs and construction complexity . . . a two-story, modified A-frame dwelling.

My calculations indicated that a 20 foot width would be perfect for the ground floor, while a length of 24 feet would provide adequate floor space for personal needs (it would have been easy to make the house longer simply by adding on additional A-frame trusses). Further, as I went about refining the overall design, I discovered that I could include two redwood-decked, cantilevered balconies without significantly increasing material costs or making construction much more difficult.

waaer
12/1/2014 8:39:29 PM

Still trying to purchase Jack Wade's THE PREFABRICATED OWNER BUILT MODIFIED A-FRAME. No longer available at Amazon. Willing to purchase a copy of a copy if need be. Any help would be appreciated.


geneski
11/21/2014 11:24:07 AM

Theres a wonderful step-by-step article on A Frames in Cabins by David and Jeanie Stiles. I picked up the book at Barnes and Noble but Im sure Amazon has it. For prefabs, I found a book published in 1942 called House Construction Details by Nelson L Burbank. Both are quite informative and useful. Since I want to build a cabin in Alaska I can bypass the normal more rigorous approval departments!


Tate
12/19/2013 9:50:42 AM

Amazon has the book. http://www.amazon.com/The-Prefabricated-Owner-Built-Modified-A-Frame/dp/B00D0AJUF8







Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters