Author Topic: 20x20 A-Frame?  (Read 253 times)

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Offline CabinBuild1

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20x20 A-Frame?
« on: January 14, 2020, 03:48:39 AM »
I want to build a small cabin as my vacation home and possibly airbnb it as well. I am thinking about building a 20'x20' a-frame cabin with a loft. I've been watching Youtube videos, reading forum posts, and doing my research.

Does anyone have advice on how much they'd estimate it would cost? Build advice?

I'm leaning toward a sonotube pier and beam foundation and hoping to keep the cost under $30k. Is that reasonable?

Offline Don_P

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2020, 04:40:43 PM »
I'd say make some sketches. I just did a little bit. Using 16' 2x12's for the rafters... to avoid getting into special lengths and allow adequate insulation. I came up with about a 15/12 pitch, about 11' inside peak height and around 8' of interior width above 6' of headroom, there is no room for a loft in that space. For that 400 sf footprint there is 160-200 sf of useful space.

I think that the same floor with 2x6 walls and a truss roof would cost no more and yield more like 360sf of useable interior space, and there would be light from all sides.

Offline CabinBuild1

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2020, 09:35:56 AM »
I was thinking to use 20' 2x12 rafters which would give me a 17 ft peak height while still keeping costs reasonable. Using those I think a loft space would be possible.

Offline Don_P

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2020, 12:44:45 PM »
Barely a loft  :-\
Ever thought of doing a cross gable on it?
Just a quick doodle;

Offline CabinBuild1

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2020, 01:24:30 PM »
I'm not as much into the cross gable look. I considered adding a horizontal, boxy section on one side of the a-frame, but I think that would also put me over budget. Also should have specified that the loft will be a half loft - just a sleeping area while leaving half of the lower, main room open.

What design program is that? Looks neat.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2020, 02:47:15 PM »
Don_P uses Sketchup.

I'm not a fan of A-frames; they look like tunnels to me with the only practical place for windows in the ends and they make it hard to hang things on walls and placing a wood stove can be an issue if one is wanted.  Not a fan of lofts either as they tend to be warmer (hot) than the main floor in any season and I want colder for sleeping.  I just mention this as I used to like the overall idea of an A-frame until I spent some time walking around inside a couple of them.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline greg49

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2020, 09:45:14 AM »
I'm only a newbie here; this is my first post. And I've never built anything larger than a shed, but I did once stay in an A-frame for a few weeks. It was very picturesque, handsplit shakes on a framework of cedar saplings, illegally built about 50 feet from the edge of a cliff overlooking the beach on an isolated stretch of British Columbia coastline. The cabin was actually 2 A-frames placed together in a t-shape. It had 2 wood stoves and stained glass windows.

The first little while was great, but after the dazzle began to wear off, I began to notice things. Like the definite thermal layer that meant that whenever the stoves were going it was too cold on the lower level without a jacket on and too hot to sleep on the upper level. And I began to get tired of constantly banging my head. I'm very tall and there was no shortage of places to bump into.

Plus, at times, there was a fair bit of wood smoke puffing from one or the other of the stoves whenever the wind was blowing in a certain direction. I think that tendency is probably relatively common with A-frames built in windy spots. Of course, the wind blew very frequently in this spot. It almost never stopped. The only way to improve the smoke puffing I think would be to build a very tall chimney that reaches several feet above the peak of the roof, and supporting such a chimney would not be easy in a very windy spot.

So I have given it some thought at various times over the years, and I would never build an A-frame. They can be quite picturesque, more so in particular settings, but for long-term residence I just don't see myself being completely comfortable in an A-frame.

And I don't think A-frames are an efficient use of material, unless one happens to have access to a patch of Western Red Cedar saplings that could stand some thinning.

Offline NathanS

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2020, 07:37:12 AM »
Welcome to the forum Cabinbuild1. Also welcome to greg49, I think those are good insights.

Maybe it is worthwhile to find and stay in an A-frame cabin for a week to see how you like it.

Don P's cross gable is cool, but that would be a pain in the butt to build.

I would also just add that a basic A-frame is going to be harder to frame up than your typical stick framed wall and roof structure. Doubly so if you're building alone.

Offline akwoodchuck

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2020, 10:28:48 AM »
Personally I would file A-frames, along with geodesic domes, under "H"......for "hokey".... 8)
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."

Offline Don_P

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2020, 05:10:56 PM »
Somebody borrowed my geodesic dome book and failed to return it. I never asked for it back  ;D.
I think I worked out the cross gable in my head, but you're right Nathan.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2020, 06:21:33 PM »
Somebody borrowed my geodesic dome book and failed to return it. I never asked for it back  ;D.


 rofl
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline CabinBuild1

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Re: 20x20 A-Frame?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2020, 03:12:46 AM »
My thought with the a-frame is simplicity of build and less costs due to decreased interior area to cover with paneling and decreased exterior area to cover with siding. Would also mean less insulation costs due to 2 fewer walls. I really want to have 2 stories, or at least a lofted area.

 

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