Build Your Own Low-Cost Prefabricated A-Frame Home

By Jack Wade
Published on November 1, 1985
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The completed home cost the Wades $12,000 to construct.
The completed home cost the Wades $12,000 to construct.
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Jack and his wife built the A-frame trusses in movable sections.
Jack and his wife built the A-frame trusses in movable sections.
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Erecting the trusses took just two days . . . And the entire shell was closed in two weeks later!
Erecting the trusses took just two days . . . And the entire shell was closed in two weeks later!

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.

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