Author Topic: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?  (Read 5352 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Guest
victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« on: August 14, 2006, 05:44:02 PM »
Hi all,

I'm kind of being thrown into all of this rather fast. We have been fixing up our rental cabin (Gatlinburg, Tn) that we have lived in for the last 5 years. It has been a great place and a good example of a fixer upper. Well the last project that we proposed to our landlords (rebuilding the foundation on the back half of the house because of water and termite damage) got them thinking and they are now selling the whole mountain that we live on. It is going on the market in about 2 weeks. It is right off of 321 the 2nd largest highway in Gatlinburg needless to say it is WAY out of our budget.
We now have our eye on 1.53 acres that a friend is carving off of their 40 acres further out.

So on with the questions . . . . . I am completely stuck between 2 house plans. The victoria's cottage or a small 535 sq. ft.  A-frame.

We need about 600 sq ft. of space with a walk-out basement. (the lot is north facing mountain ridge with a gentle slope) The A-frame is going to need slight modification for a basement and I think extending from 22x24 to 22x28 but other than that it is perfect. I do worry about needing/wanting extra room in a few years but I figure that I can move our work shop from the basement to another structure on the property later.  Outside of the expense of redesigning the plans (average of $1200- $2200, ouch!)  I'm pretty confident that I can build with in our budget. Having never lived in an A-frame myself I'm hesitant to build one. This particular floor plan has the lowest walls at 6ft. So at least that is not a problem as with other a-frame plans. Also the property is road side and the a-frame will not have alot of windows facing the road (big plus)

[highlight]Does anyone has good or bad things to say about A-frame? I hear that they can be economical to build and effecient on heat and air if done properly?[/highlight]

Now I equally like the Victoria's cottage. I do not worry at all about growing out of it in a few years. In fact I'm a very worried about not being able to afford to build it. I understand all of the dollar averages to build but taking into consideration the loft space and almost finished basement  . . . . . . .[highlight]I feel like I'm fudging the numbers in [/highlight][highlight]my favor to say that it is 698 heated space with loft and basement. How much sq ft should I really plan for with this plan?[/highlight] (The other cabin/cottage plans are definitly too small for our traffic patterns) I'm having to take out a construction loan for it and I'm not sure what my bank with think about it either. I've read alot of stories on here about building over time but I don't have that as an option right now the quicker the better!  [highlight]Has anyone had any problems getting constuction loans? (or better yet a success story!) [/highlight]

[highlight]Has anyone had someone create a basement from the crawlspace plans for them?[/highlight] I plan on doing some of the work with family and friends but so far I haven't come across someone that I know and trust and we have no building codes/ permits where we will be building. So with out actual plans i'm nervous about handing that job over to someone that I don't know because there is no one to check their work and they know it. (should I be nervous?)

A great big thanks to anyone who has made it this far  ;D
I only found this site a few weeks ago but it has definitly jumped me ahead on the learning curve, however I still have a ways to go in a very short time!!!!
Thanks again,


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2006, 05:54:14 PM »
In general I think we agreed that the "A" frame wasn't real practical in our last discussion of it.

Here's what I could find on it.

and... Welcome to the forum. :)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2006, 05:54:32 PM by glenn-k »


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2006, 07:17:26 PM »
Daylighting is good.  With a longish a-frame design you might not get much.

But there are plenty of people who loved them.

I've never liked that A-frame-like plan very much, it's been the token "little house" in half the house plan periodicals for 20 years now.  But then I'm not much on stairs that you have to use.

As far as I can tell, you can do most anything you want to under the ground floor of your building--although I've no idea what you've got in the way of rock under your land (blasting might be fun, but it would be expensive).  It's like lengthening a building, relatively easy, at least as far as the main part of the structure goes.

Y'all might be perfect candidates for shipping container houses.  Two or three containers set in a row with roughly the same spaces between them for use as porches or work areas.  Roof over all, maybe porch at the front and/or back.  Not sure how easy containers are to buy in the interior of the country.  Some places they are incredibly inexpensive, probably some more simply unavailable.

My house in Nashville was built from a couple of box cars, probably surplus from WW1, added on to over the years.  Metal clad wood walls.

The Pattern Language process is pretty useful.  You could end up thinking that Victoria's Cottage--or that funky A-frame would be perfect for you.  It can be used for buildings other than small house for one person.   Remember to give each person space for themselves.


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2006, 08:59:43 AM »
Thanks for the links.

I had originally done the exercise to the pattern language and that is how I can up with the layout of the living space with a loft bedroom and our workshop down stairs. I did question the stairs a bit myself  but, it might help keep us in shape for walking our mountain side.

As far as the shipping container idea, I did look at it. However I doubt that even if I could get my bank interested that I could get my husband. See he is feeling that the cottage is too 'boxy' for him. We originally had our sights set on a 'dome home' so to me an A-frame is a step to the more conventional use of space (and mortages) than what we started out wanting.  We are sculptors by trade and if we could swing a strawbale/cob we might but, due to the time constraints, banks and the ever popular nightly rentals in this area that something a tad more traditonal would better serve us.

I guess the major negative to the A-frame for me is growing out of it or not being able to put our parents anywhere but on the couch :-/. We plan on central heating and air so I'm not too worried about the tall ceilings and with a wood stove in the walk-out basement in theory it would keep the main floor pretty warm. And we intend to reverse the house because of the north mountain so all of the glass will actually line up perfectly on the side that actually gets light. The side with the roof and bathroom skylight will be facing the mountain side.

I on the flip side worry about being able to afford the victoria's cottage with the side bedroom and the basement. It's about 3x's the house that we currently live in (with basement and loft space) and seems like we might cruise right past our budget.  when figuring the cost of the victoria's cottage should I include the loft (268sq ft. and the basement 448 sqft.(under main part not bedroom) into the cost figuring? Or because you already have to finish the ceilings and the walls is the loft really only a partial cost to add like a basement? I know that the average here in the south is around 57-85 per sq. ft. depending on which site you go to and what is included and that you add $3-$8. I'm shooting high for the bank and trying to come in as cheap as possible still retaining quality. For instance quoting tile for the bath and kitchen that I actually own. That way I can get a bit of a cushion for those oops's.  

Did she (victoria) really finish all of that house for around 100,000? Has anyone else built just the main house and not the builders cottage attachment? Do you mind sharing your per sq ft. budget?

Thanks, talking to folks who have actually done this is nice.


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2006, 03:59:11 PM »
When I was in my 20's and 30's, A-frame houses appealed to me too. They were unconventional.......and we all know those who grew up in the 60's and 70's are a bit unconventional.........oh, I take that back, things have changed now! :) Most of the boomers are conservative.

When I hit 40, I would have still loved it but deciding where to put four boys and all their sports equipment would have been a challenge. As it was, every nook and cranny of our three bedroom abode had baseballs, mits, cleats, footballs, hockey equipment. You get the picture. I should have rented storage for my stuff!

Not to worry - I"ll get to the point!

Is this going to be your homestead or a cabin? How long are you planning on living in your new house?

Johns plans are adaptable. I've read many of the stories and I'm sure some have built it for less than 100K.

The lumber for the roof alone on the A-frame I think would be an expense and not much living space out of it if you're looking for practicality.

Another point - as a mother-in-law myself, sleeping on the couch may not be the best scenario. Think of it - she's there at night when you go to bed and then again in the morning to greet the sun with you! I loved my mother-in-law dearly but I'm not sure if I could have had as much fun on her visits if I didn't have my space and she, hers.

On the flip side, I wouldn't mind renting a cabin in the woods that was an A-frame!

Good luck with your venture and keep us posted!


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2006, 08:39:40 PM »
Well Miedrn,

After taking a week off from thinking about it. (my brain hit overload) We visited 3 other A-frames today and a modified one.  (I really hadn't paid much attention to how many of our friends had built them) It really helped me. I got a chance to see which one felt roomy and which ones felt small and at 535 sq ft. with a full basement ours is going to be the largest by far. (I guess you caught that we decided, huh.)

Although I do love the victoria's cottage I think that it maybe a little large for us right now. Our bottom line mortage payment is a huge factor. We are going to modify the bedroom loft area to extend out 4 feet further. This will give us both walk-in closets and we will build a loft above the closets (above the bedroom door to the deck) which will give us an entire room for sitting/ office space of our own.

As far as the parents or friends are concerned the reality is that we have had very few overnight guest for the last 6 years and possibly less when we move further out.  we currently live studio style with our bed in our living room(along with part of our art/work spaces). Our married parents prefer hotel rooms rather than two 8 foot couches 3 feet from our bed. Friends will sleep anywhere if they really want to stay. My mom has really taken to camping since she turned 50 having never camped prior to age 48 (go mom!)We will have plently of yard for her now.   As I would like to have room for all of my friends and family at least for now that is a want and not exactly a need.

Ultimately I think that we have found the right floor space for us for a while with many, many pluses that we don't have now. (Like a whole basement work space for our business  and a seperate bedroom for us) and when we are ready or need more room we will finish off the basement into a bath, bedroom, den area and build a work shop else where on property. We have an acre and a half to expand out on. The total completed area will be roughly 1100 sqft. when /if fully finished.

While I have no intentions on leaving I think that it will also be a good resale factor here in the mountains. (We have chalet rentals all over these parts) Also big plus here for local financing.  

Thanks for the help. It was nice to weigh what others had to say. While positive comments are always nice to hear the negative are the ones that helped the most. It made me think of the problems and see if they applied to us and then come up with solutions.

I'm sure that you'll be hearing from me again. Building is a pretty overwhelming task and a village sure helps!

Take care,

Offline Chateau Prideaux

  • Junior Member
  • **
  • Posts: 59
  • Texas Hill Country
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2006, 08:58:46 PM »
I'm interested in hearing how it goes. My brother in law really wanted to build an a-frame, thinking that it's a pretty inexpensive solution. Then he spoke with some contractor friends who were building their place a little down the road. They said that it really doesn't save all the much for the useable space you're getting.

I think I'd have issues living in a place with sloped walls. Unless I had big windows to look out, I imagine it would feel a little claustrophobic.

Then again, when I started thinking about building my own place (5+ years ago, geez) I was thinking of building an earthship. I since found that I'm a little more conservative and my wife laid down the law, which cemented it, nothing funky. At least I got a concession, whatever we build with be beige free. Think starter-home-conservative-gotta-preserve-resale-off-white-painted-walls, I'm sooo tired of living in a milk carton.  :P
Quidquius Operat

Offline Miedrn

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 195
  • CountryPlans member
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2006, 10:24:56 PM »
3rdigrl, congratulations on making your decision. Sounds like you have it all worked out. If I were younger, I would go for the A-frame myself! who could resist one in the mountains?

You gave me a suggestion - maybe the next time I visit the families, I'll take my tent with me!  ;D

Offline Jimmy C.

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 615
  • Big Sandy, Texas
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2006, 02:34:37 AM »
My Father-in-law built an A-frame house several years ago.  A few months after it was finished they had a fire of unknown origin that started on the outside of the structure. It burned so fast they only had time to get the keys to their cars and move them  further away from the house. HE thinks it burned so fast because of the shape (like a bonfire).  :'(

« Last Edit: August 24, 2006, 09:41:34 AM by Jimmy_Cason »
The hardest part is getting past the mental blocks about what you are capable of doing.
Cason 2-Story Project MY PROGRESS PHOTOS


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2006, 04:56:34 AM »
Oh Jimmy:
That bonfire pic brings back fond memories.  I built four of them, just like that one.  


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2006, 07:47:06 AM »
Fight'n Texas Aggies! Whoooop!


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2006, 08:04:21 AM »
That must have been pretty devastating!  :( The cabin was really cute...

(you can really see the way the male mind thinks by their responses...  ;)  :-/ )


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 06:55:29 AM »
Actually Sassy that was a concern of mine off the bat. I brought up to my husband that we should check into a sprinkler system for the house since we have no public hydrant and only a volunteer fire department. (we are also the property line between the two counties which means that we are as far as you can get from either one!) He originally thought that I was silly for suggesting it but now he thinks that it might be a good idea to check into the cost of one.

Thanks guys!!!


  • Guest
Re: victoria's cottage vs A-frame?
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2006, 07:02:02 AM »
If you don't want to go to an expensive - maybe best sprinkler system, you can just get the heads and make your own system taking all the precautions you can to be sure that in case of fire the heads will have water.  Uponor Aquapex has a system you may want to look at -- it ties into the house water if I recall correctly.


Templates: 5: index (default), Ads (default), Portal (default), Display (default), GenericControls (default).
Sub templates: 12: init, html_above, adsheaders_above, body_above, adsindex_above, portal_above, main, portal_below, adsindex_below, body_below, adsheaders_below, html_below.
Language files: 3: SPortal.english (default), index+Modifications.english (default), Ads.english (default).
Style sheets: 1: portal (default).
Files included: 37 - 1124KB. (show)
Cache hits: 14: 0.00328s for 40,682 bytes (show)
Queries used: 28.

[Show Queries]